A little bit of magic

Throughout my childhood, I was an avid believer in all things magical. I spent all my free time visiting castles with my grandparents and learning about all kinds of history, including some myths like dragons. SPOILER ALERT: I LOVE DRAGONS. Growing up, I'd come face to face with many myths and stories. I loved them all. When I wasn't exploring these magical places, I was placing make believe games with my twin sister about all different kinds of creatures and magic.

So, nine years (and a couple of days) ago, when Merlin first aired on our TV screens, I was more than excited to see this myth come to life. I'd heard of the myth, of course, and enjoyed it as a child, so I knew, this show would be for me. I honestly, can't remember my reaction. I was only thirteen at the time. Yes, you heard that correctly, I was thirteen. I know that I watched every single episode every Saturday for the next five years, so it's safe to say, I enjoyed it. But do you know what's magical? It's one of those shows that my entire family watched. I watched it every Saturday night with my twin and my mum. My Nan and Grandad watched it, my cousin watched it. It was just one of those family shows and well, I didn't have any friends that had even heard of it (how can you not have heard of it, it was a prime time BBC show?). Except one friend, my friend Sam, who I found out liked the show as much as I did a few years later. I totally had a Merlin poster shortly after the fourth season, it was amazing. I loved it so much! (I've just spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for the one picture I had of it but alas, I cannot find it anywhere, so just imagine the awesomeness.)

First of all I'd like to take the time to point out how amazing the cast are. They're so likable and the chemistry between them all is what makes the show so watchable. It's like you're watching old friends, you actually care about them and their progression through the series. They're honestly so kind and lovely. If you haven't already, you should watch the casts video diaries from the first series which follows them on their journey to and through France as they film. With footage of Bradley James in the supermarket with some of the other cast and a theme park. You are able to witness the friendships being formed and the bonding between them that helps to make their performances so incredible. 

Imagine thinking that I don't love this cast. Just look at them, they're beautiful. Also, they film in chateau de Pierrefonds in Pierrefonds. It's a beautiful area in France with a stunning castle which in transformed into the magical Camelot in the show. 

While on holiday with my grandparents and twin sister in the summer of 2015, we were lucky enough to stop for a night at the beautiful Pierrefonds on our way home from Germany and Italy. Honestly, just driving past this castle was enough to give me the chills. It's so beautiful, standing above the town on a hill (which is kinda steep to walk up). We walked up into town and the castle and it was like stepping into the medieval Camelot. It's a truly magical experience. You can see why they used this location, it's absolutely stunning. The shapes in the architecture and position of the chateaux are just absolute perfection. 

We arrived just before opening time and were able to walk around with a couple of other people. I was able to fangirl to my hearts content and take lots of beautiful pictures. I was able to walk where the cast walked and picture parts of the show. If you ever have the chance, please do visit this chateaux, you will not regret it, I promise you. 

Considering that the Arthurian legend is a tragic tale, the show has an overwhelming sense of optimism that pervades throughout each episode with its rather predictable nature. Yes, I said predictable, but hear me out. The repetitive nature of the show is, there's danger threatening Arthur, Merlin saves the day, yay. It's predictable, sorry but it is. That doesn't mean that it's not one of the most addictive shows I've ever watched. It's so watchable despite knowing, when the episode starts, that the ending will be a happy one. Is this a bad thing? No, because the writers still made every single episode interesting to watch and the humour is something that still makes me laugh nine years later. 

 All watchers will know something about the Arthurian legend. It's safe to say that the watcher is aware that Morgana and Mordred are evil and that they will bring about the destruction of Arthur but the show puts you at the very beginning, before the legend starts. A prequel, if you must. You get to see the progression of the characters into the legend through the development of the characters over the five seasons.

Colin Morgan's portrayal of Merlin is well, outstanding. The emotion he is able to deliver throughout the five seasons is out of this world, you could say, magical. He begins as a boy, confused that his magic is forbidden but willing to use it to help people, which he does, saving Gaius within the first five minutes of the first episode with his natural powers. His position as a Warlock is something he is keen to continue to use and learn and with the nurturing from Gaius and the Kilgharrah (the Great Dragon) he starts his journey to becoming the greatest sorcerer the world has ever known. We know his destiny from the offset and see him grow as a sorcerer and a boy becoming a man. Despite being very clumsy and mostly, quite a useless servant, he saves Arthur again and again, and always runs headfirst into danger to protect his friend and king. 

At the 2013 National Television Awards, shortly after series five of Merlin aired, Colin Morgan won an award for male drama performance. He beat the likes of Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch for this award, so if you don't trust my word that he's a fantastic actor, trust this. He's able to portray so much emotion within the smallest expression changes and movements, and when he cries, which he does a few times, well, it's enough to make me cry (and that's saying a lot). I'm a sucker for Colin Morgan now, I'll watch anything with him in. The secret knowledge you have, knowing that Merlin has magic, is sometimes, as he often finds it, too much to bear. You want the characters to find out but you also don't in fear of their reaction. You have to watch Merlin be himself but never really fully himself because he cannot tell the truth of who he is, and some of the decisions her has to make are heartbreaking. 

As for the development of Bradley James' character, you see him turn from a lad - in the first episode he is such a lad, he just wants to fight and have fun at the expense of others - into the prince he's destined to become. Though, he remains arrogant for a while, wanting to constantly prove himself, mainly to himself, as he does at the beginning of the second series with his competing in a jousting tournament to prove his ability as a man and not the prince. But, his arrogance comes from the part of him that has to prove himself as the next King of Camelot. There are so many expectations thrust upon his character from the people and his father, he strives to meet them all but his actions are only ever to protect the kingdom and it's people. 

The relationship between Arthur and Merlin is a battle between their roles - as king and servant - and their friendship. For Uther, there can be nothing other than a professional relationship and even though Merlin can be a pretty terrible servant, he is always a good friend to Arthur. In one episode especially, The Gates of Avalon, Merlin proves his friendship by giving Arthur an excuse to spend time with a woman, taking the blame for Arthur's lack of attendance to Uther. This results in him being put in the stocks and pelted with rotting fruit. Their friendship is constantly tested but they are both willing to die for the other and this pervades throughout the five series. The humour in the show also comes from these two, often with Merlin trying to be funny and Arthur hitting him or something. Also, it's a miracle that Merlin manages to keep his secret for so log considering the amount of times he has to use magic right in front of Arthur.

Katie Mcgrath's character is defiant from the beginning, constantly challenging Uther, her King and guardian. Her character development is probably the most awaited of the series, as watchers we are aware that she will one day be evil and are witness to the events that make her so. She struggles with her powers, knowing that she would be killed for having them and it makes it easy for her to turn against Uther. It's her hate for him that fuels her, so much so, that she doesn't see that she becomes him. Morgana's hatred consumes her and she loses everybody that was ever loyal to her, becoming alone in her hate for Uther and then, her brother. I could talk about Morgana till the end of time, she's such an interesting character and her development is both crucial to the story and difficult to watch. As she starts as a character full of love, willing to do anything to protect her friends and ends as a lonely character full of nothing but hatred. 

Another incredibly awaited character development is that of Gwen. We know, from the legend, that she is supposed to be the queen of Camelot but when we meet Gwen, she's a sweet, loving and dutiful servant. She is incredibly loyal and not afraid to speak her mind, even to people way above her station. Her character is quick to offer advice to Arthur and later the council, when the people are in danger. Like all the other characters, she'd put her life on the line to protect those she loves and despite great losses she shows the resilience of character when you think with love and not hatred. Also, in terms of character progression, the most obvious is, she goes from rags to riches, quite literally. She falls in love with a prince and along with that becomes a worthy queen to Camelot, a voice to the people and how they think, something that can easily be forgotten. Gwen is always kind, loyal, and thinks of others, that never changes. 

Gaius' character never changes. He gets older but other than that Gaius is a loyal physician and father figure to Merlin. He nourishes Merlin and his magic while keeping him in check, as much as he can, to protect him. He would die for Merlin and cares about him so much. I just had to write a little section about Richard Wilson's character because he is a faithful friend within the show. 

I'm going to stop now even though there are so many interesting character but we'd literally be here for nine years if I don't stop. The characters are amazing, so many interesting characters and so many amazing guest stars pop up within the show. 

Nine years on and my passion for Merlin has not abated in the slightest. I still love this show and watch it two/three times a year. I never tire of it. To think, I sat down nine years ago to watch it and still love it, is crazy even to me. To finish, I think it's only fair that I say, if you haven't watched this then you need to right now, that the magic of this show will always live on and that's probably the most magical thing in the world at this moment. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my crazy ramblings and visit my blog. 

Tiffani. x


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