Colin Morgan (‘Merlin’) interview

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With a fourth series coming up later this year and a new attraction opening at Warwick Castle next month, 2011 looks set to be a great year for fans of BBC One’s Merlin.

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CultBox caught up with actor Colin Morgan, who plays the fantasy drama’s titular hero, to find out more…

Can you tell us a bit about the Merlin: The Dragon Tower attraction at Warwick Castle?

“I’ve been at Warwick Castle for the first time this morning actually, I’m absolutely blown away by the place. It’s just got so much going on there. I was there to get a waxwork figure of myself made in character as Merlin, which is going to be living up at the castle. It’s being made by the team from Madame Tussauds, so I had several hours of doing that this morning.

“Then I got the chance to hold some birds of prey and a giant eagle. It just feels like the right place for the UK’s first ever Merlin attraction, it makes sense to have it as the home of the great dragon.

“Visitors are going to get the chance to interact with the sets from Merlin, they’re recreating Gaius’s chamber and you cast spells in there, then you actually can come face to face with the great dragon himself. It’s hugely exciting for myself to be working on the show for so long and now visitors will get a chance to experience it all for themselves. It opens on April 16th.”

Have you begun filming the new series yet?

“Yes, we’ve just started last week on the fourth series. It feels like, coming into the fourth series, the show’s really taken its place in people’s hearts.”

Since you finished filming Series 3, what did you miss most and what did you miss least about filming the show?

“I did a play at the Royal Court Theatre in-between, so that was a great chance to do something completely different. I think one of the key things in any profession is to keep doing new things. So yeah, exercising that muscle was brilliant, but I did miss working on the show.

“We’ve got some fantastic storylines coming up on the fourth series; we’ve just got scripts for the first three episodes through and it’s hugely exciting.

“I guess one of the things I haven’t missed is the wet Welsh weather! We’ve been lucky so far, but once we start going out on location and do some night shoots, I’m hoping we don’t get the usual torrential rain like we did last year!”

Merlin‘s executive producer Johnny Capps has stated that the Knights of the Round Table will feature heavily in Series 4, are you excited about these storylines?

“Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. The basis of the story that we’re working on is so strongly established in legend, so it’s great to see these icons coming through. The show has always been about taking the legends and showing them in a different and unexpected way.

“But there are elemental icons in the Arthurian legend and when those images are created on screen, like we saw at the end of the third series with the round table and the knights and Excalibur and the lady of the lake… These are things that have worked for centuries, so the fact that those elements are very much part of the series is exciting.”

Can you give us any hints about what’s coming up for Merlin?

“There’s huge changes for Merlin in Series 4. I’m not sure how much I can say as we’ve literally only just got the scripts! But I think it’s clear that Camelot is heading in a new direction and the characters’ arcs are starting to take their place.”

Would you like to see Arthur finding out about Merlin’s magic?

“It’d be a huge thing. It wouldn’t just be Arthur finding out about it; it’d be Merlin’s whole world collapsing. I think Arthur’s general attitude to Merlin wouldn’t change too much, but we’ve been working on the story for so long, so I think the storyline would be taken from a political point of view. I don’t think it’ll happen quickly and it won’t be resolved quickly. It’ll be a really interesting avenue to explore.”

Would you like to see more of Merlin’s family in the show?

“I think a big part of what works about Merlin is that his past is quite ambiguous and he doesn’t know very much about it himself. But it’d be great if there were some mysteries to uncover there.”

With a full 13 episodes for Series 4 (following initial talks of just 10 episodes) and the Warwick Castle attraction opening soon, it looks like the BBC are really committed to the show. How long can you imagine it continuing for and how long would you like to stay involved for?

“I think for as long as it works and people are still exciting about it. I’m genuinely intrigued by where these characters are going, where I can take it as an actor and where the writers can develop. It’s so exciting what’s been created for the fourth series so far and the massive steps that are being taken in terms of the storylines.

“Whenever I meet fans of the show, they’re never just a casual fan, they always really, really like Merlin. I think the show is entertaining people in a lot of ways, in different countries and in different languages. I think that’s a fantastic thing to be involved with.”

Series 4 will include the show’s 50th episode. Are there any special plans for this episode?

“I don’t know actually! We get the scripts about three at a time, often not very long before we film them, so I only know what happens in 1, 2 and 3 at the moment.”

Would you like to do a Christmas special?

“Yeah, I’d like to see Camelot covered in snow, that’d be great! If there’s the opportunity for that, I think it’d be fantastic.”

With the second half of Doctor Who’s sixth series being shown on Saturday evenings in September and October, do you know when Series 4 of Merlin is going to air?

“It’ll still be this Autumn, either in September or October this year.”

Tickets for the Merlin: The Dragon Tower attraction are available now from warwick-castle.com.

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