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Merlin - Final episode reviewed

Merlin

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WHAT for me started out as simply a means of passing the time between Strictly Come Dancing and Casualty soon became compulsive viewing. I’m talking of course about the fifth and final series of Merlin, BBC 1’s fantasy drama that reached its inevitable climax on Christmas Eve with an episode that was as action-filled as it was tear-jerking.

It’s a story/legend/myth, call it what you will, that has inspired generations and will no doubt continue to do so for very many years to come. Indeed, it’s the very thing that this final episode went to great pains to point out as King Arthur of Camelot finally met his fate, the trusted Merlin as ever by his side.

In fact, it was the on-screen chemistry between Arthur (Bradley James) and Merlin (Colin Morgan) that has undoubtedly made this series such a success. Always intellectually the underdog (at least where Arthur was concerned), Merlin has patiently and without malice taken all that Arthur has thrown at him, never once betraying his true identity. In the process, it has provided some delightfully droll moments.

The special effects – not always nice, especially those involving the evil Morgana – have also played a part, as have the costumes and the fine performances of all involved, particularly that of Richard Wilson, who brought compassion and infinite wisdom to the role of Gaius, all traces of Victor Meldrew long forgotten.

My initial reservations regarding the series were, I think, due to certain discrepancies with the story I had come to know and love from books such as T. H. White’s The Once and Future King and the wonderful Lerner and Loewe musical, Camelot.

In them, Arthur was first know to Merlin as the boy Wart, who became king after removing a particular sword from a particular stone. And, from the very beginning, Arthur was only too well aware that Merlin was a magician.

As for Guenevere, and I mean no disrespect to actress Angel Coulby who brought a certain charm to the role, she was fair skinned. Was depicting her otherwise, I wonder, an attempt by the BBC to maintain political correctness?

But whatever – and as a legend it is certainly open to interpretation – Merlin was an excellent series and will undoubtedly be missed by young and old alike and here, I’m speaking not only on my own behalf but also on that of my young grandson who was one of its biggest fans.