Colin Morgan in Merlin

Colin Morgan, the Irish actor who plays the young wizard Merlin, tells TV Choice what's in store as the fantasy drama returns for its fifth series set three years after the last ended. We caught up with Colin during a break in filming the BBC1 show in France…

MerlinYou film a fair amount of Merlin in France in a real castle called Château de Pierrefonds, and you often have members of the public watching you. Is that strange?
We spend a lot of time filming in Cardiff as well, and that’s quite secluded. But when the Merlin fans descend on set, it is a very different experience. Normally, the only things that fans get to see is what ends up on camera, but obviously they’re seeing the process, which is getting to know how the magic is done, how the trick works. I suppose it makes it an interesting experience, I guess, for fans to come and see that.

MerlinAs the series begins, three years have passed and Arthur and Guinevere are King and Queen. How are they coping?
You get the impression that in those three years Camelot has been in a very good state. It’s been ruled very well, and everyone is in relatively high spirits, confident in Camelot being this kingdom of security. The King is becoming great, he’s still learning, but he’s doing his best.

Guinevere has taken a role as the king’s advisor. She’s very much a part of the council meetings, the running of the kingdom, and the decisions that are made — which can sometimes be surprising.

What does Merlin think about Camelot?
I think Merlin really embraces what the kingdom has become. It’s a good thing. This is all part of the destiny that was foretold. For Arthur to be a great king, and for magic to be a part of that, eventually. Magic is the essence of who Merlin is. He is magic. So now all the elements are slipping into place.

However, Merlin is given a warning at the beginning of the series of a threat that’s about to descend, of a future that’s not so distant and which he has to prevent. And suddenly, things might feel like they’re not going the way he wants. It seems like the forces of evil are stronger than they’ve ever been. So there’s a huge conflict, right from the beginning.

MerlinAnd of course, Morgana is the main threat…
And it’s terrifying what she’s up to, because it feels like she’s onto something. Certainly, Merlin feels like she’s on a track he doesn’t want her to be on. So he’s a lot more ruthless this time in how he’s going to protect the king, because everything feels like it’s coming towards destruction.

MerlinGame Of Thrones star Liam Cunningham is joining the cast as Morgana's ally Ruadan. What’s it been like working with him?
I didn’t really have many scenes with him, but he is a huge element of the opening episodes with Morgana and the plot she’s involved with. Liam is an absolute legend. Obviously, being Irish, I’ve grown up with a lot of films he’s been in. Although I didn’t have scenes with him, it was great to have a man of that talent and stature on set.

BBC1, Saturday

David Collins