How are you finding the role of Arthur in Merlin, now you’ve been doing it for a while? Are you still enjoying it?
It’s still fun, I still tell people that I swing a sword around for a living. I turn up, I act kingly, yeah it’s enjoyable. There’s still many aspects of the role which, as a big kid, I very much enjoy.
Have you been pleased with how the show’s been received to date?
Yeah, it seems to be doing really well. It gets locked away in a studio for eight months and [the actors] don’t see too much of it, but the producers always have a big smile on their faces when we ask them how the show went. As I say, it seems to be entertaining people.
Does the mythical character of Arthur inform yours at all?
Oh, listen, we butchered the Arthurian legend. We’re here to provide Saturday night escapism. People should not take what we’ve done as a be all and end all of the legend because it’s really not the case. We’ve changed so many aspects and really altered the story – primarily, Uther still being around is a pretty big deal in comparison. So it kind of changes the story because primarily it’s about… well, it’s called Merlin. You can chop up other characters’ storylines, but as long as you’re tell the story of Merlin it’s kind of okay. This is not the definitive telling of the Arthurian legend, before people start taking it as gospel.
The role can be quite physical, so do you still have to do a lot of training with swordplay and horse riding?
Not really, I guess it must look like it’s quite intense. It’s just something we’ve got used to really, when you’re doing it a lot your body just adapts or what have you. But I was always quite sporty beforehand anyway, and enjoyed things that took a bit of physical involvement. When you’re first filming the sword fights and the horse riding, that’s when you’re kind of learning how to do it, but we’ve just become accustomed to it now. Also, the horses we use… we have these amazing horses in France that make you look very good at horse riding without that actually being the case.
Merlin Series 3, Vol 1 (Episodes 1- 6) is out now on DVD. Vol 2 (Episodes 7-13) and The Complete Third Series (Episodes 1-13) are released on DVD 24 January 2010.