Independent production company Shine, who also made Sky One’s Hex, is to begin filming the new drama, telling the story of legendary heroes Arthur and Merlin, next week.
The series will be shot on location in Wales, with Wilson playing Gaius, the court physician who becomes mentor to the young Merlin, who will be played by Colin Morgan.
The series has been in development for some time. Back in 2006, The Guardian reported the BBC was hoping to add Merlin to its roster of Saturday night dramas, revealing that even then the project had had a long a tortuous development history, going through several different guises before the current Shine version.
BBC1’s Peter Fincham (who is now at ITV) said then that the plan to revamp Merlin for Saturday evenings will not spell the end for Robin Hood or Doctor Who, as each production could be played out at different times of the year depending on schedules.
“We have only scratched the surface of family viewing,” The Stage reported. “Our appetite is not exhausted. We could certainly accommodate a third drama.”
Richard Wilson is of course no stranger to fantasy drama, having recently appeared in Doctor Who and whose credits also include Gulliver’s Travels, Brave New World and The Last Van Helsing.
Newcomer Bradley James will play the young Arthur, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head as his father. Another newcomer, Angel Golby, will play Guinevere and Katie McGrath (whose credits include the new thriller, Red Mist) is the sorceress Morgana.