Merlin co-creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy talk exclusively to SciFiNow about the future of the show and why there will never be “blood and incest” in this Arthurian legend retelling…
You’ve always said there’s been a five series plan for Merlin, why was that?
JC: Because at the time we were pitching the series and talking to Judy Gardener about it we thought that we want to be ambitious and do a five year plan, it doesn’t mean to say it will only last for five series, it was just how we conceived it at the time. It was all about slow-burning all the character arcs and the legends and the mythology of the series so we didn’t do that thing that happens in British drama a lot, which is piling up the story and burning the character arc too quickly so it certainly doesn’t mean that Merlin will only run for five series.
Do you have an idea of where you’re going each series?
JM: We have a pretty good idea of where we’re heading each series but how we get there grows and changes in an organic fashion. With this series we have largely followed what we set out to do and that’s unusual, most of the series change quite radically during their making.
JC: And you write to the actor’s strengths. We’re really lucky that our young cast have really grown as actors so we literally throw them any challenge and we’re not working around their shortcomings. I think one thing that has developed in a great way, the way we always hoped it would, is the banter between Arthur and Merlin, Colin (Morgan) and Bradley (James) have a great comic relationship onscreen so we certainly enjoy writing for that and doing more of that. It’s the heart of the show.
It feels as though the series has definitely grown more adult, was that a conscious decision?
JM: Colin is not the innocent figure that walked into season one, he’s been on an immense journey as Merlin and we have to reflect that or we’re not going to be true to the drama.
JC: Just look at the Harry Potter franchise which is a great example, you watch these characters grow up and the films get darker and there’s that same sense with Merlin. We talk about it getting darker but the thing that’s really important to us is that there’s still an air of innocence about it, there’s still a warm heart and comedy.
There are plenty of bloody, gritty medieval dramas out there at the moment; would you consider going in that direction?
JC: No, to be brutally honest. I’m not sure it would appeal to us. What’s great about Merlin is it has that sense of wonder and magic and I think to tell the real version of king Arthur and all it’s blood and incest is not something that would appeal to us. Game of Thrones is a little bit different in that it is a genuine fantasy, a more violent one than Merlin, we’re great admirers of it but it’s a totally different thing. What we’re trying to be is like a PG-13 Hollywood film and I don’t think we’ll ever take the program to a place that isn’t that
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