§ Merlin: Mackenzie Crook And Extras

2009/09/18 cblogs.menmedia.co.uk ian.wylie

THERE was plenty of laughter at the recent Merlin round table interview. Ahead of the start of the second BBC1 series tomorrow night.

Colin Morgan (Merlin), Bradley James (Arthur), Angel Coulby (Gwen), Katie McGrath (Morgana) and Richard Wilson (Gaius) were there.

With Anthony Head (King Uther) arriving just as it finished ? but taking part in a later audience Q&A. Merlin fans will no doubt already have read this week’s feature here.

And the blog here.

But they appear to have an insatiable appetite for news of the show.

So with that in mind, here are some extracts from the round table which didn’t make it into the feature.

Plus this short audio file, which features Bradley talking about the bonding experience between himself and Colin: Bradley On Bonding (mp3 audio file)

I asked the assembled cast to talk about this year’s guest stars, including Mackenzie Crook as Cedric in the opening episode.

Bradley replied: “All my friends got me to ask him stupid questions. I was a big fan, as well, having seen The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean.

“It would have perhaps been intimidating had we not had a series under our belt.

“There’s a lot of Merlin, Arthur and Cedric interaction. Mackenzie just slipped right into it.

“On and off set, he was very much up for a good bit of banter. He’s a terrific personality.

“We’ve been blessed with the people who have come into the show because they fit in.”

Katie spoke about Sarah Parish at the script read through, and the moment her character turns into a troll.

“She’s so beautiful and was reading her character as a lady, which was just so lovely.

“And then she comes to the troll bit and she just turns and does this voice and completely changed.

“Everybody cracked up in the room because it was so unexpected. But she was so excited and so enthusiastic about it.

“Everyone who comes in is and says what a great show it is. Mackenzie Crook and Charles Dance, they all really want to do the show.”

Colin was asked if he and John Hurt ? the voice of the Great Dragon ? had met up yet.

“Yes, we have. The first time was on stage in front of hundreds of people and he presented me with an award. So I couldn’t properly speak to him.

“But this series has been great because we got into the studio together and I got to record some of the scenes. So his side of the dialogue was still recorded.

“And it was great to do that because I was then going into the studio maybe a month later and then doing it not just to the green screen but having had the experience of the studio and having worked on it and being able to take that to it was brilliant.

“We could actually work on the scene because it felt very separated last series. And the relationship has got quite fragmented as a result of what’s happened in the first series.

“But I think that bond and that relationship they’ve got is important because it’s one of the huge themes in this series.”

I also asked the cast to explain how this new series was “bigger and bolder” and how it related to their characters.

Katie replied: “The scripts are much denser. The storylines are much more intricate and intertwing. We get three scripts at once for one block.

“You find out more about who everybody is and why they are the way they are in season two. And much bigger CGI.”

Angel added: “We find out a bit more about the back stories of the characters. Generally more character development.

“Gwen has become more of a woman. She’s grown up”

Katie: “Morgana’s character is much more psychological. At the end of season one, you saw the beginning of her powers and that really does grow. That becomes her main focus, dealing with the things that she fears about herself.

“She starts off as one thing and by the end she’s completely different. So it’s much darker, much more psychological.”

Colin: “Season one for Merlin was very much a growing up tale for him, starting out and coming into Camelot for the first time and having to adjust very quickly.

“He arrives at the end of the series having gone through quite a lot and realising a lot about his future and his destiny, who he’s going to be and what he’s going to become.

“Going into the second series I think everyone has grown up a bit more and he’s accepted more about his destiny. He’s more driven about seeing it through to the end.

“And the theme of going into the characters’ past…Merlin’s past has always been a bit ambiguous because the series is dealing about a young Merlin.

“But he also has a much deeper past that is explored as well. So it’s been great to do that.”<

You can always trust Richard Wilson to give a good answer.

“Season two for Gaius is extraordinary,” he began.

“I’m playing him a year older. It’s worth watching for the subtle changes. It may look simple but it’s been a lot of work.

“I think Merlin and I become closer. I tell Merlin a bit more about his past and introduce him to certain figures from his past.

“I don’t ride a horse still, and my wig is washed more often. And that’s about it.”

Bradley chipped in: “He’s a dark horse, Gaius, he knows a lot more than he lets on and it conveniently leaks out episode by episode.”

“You subconsciously pick up stuff from Richard working with him, certainly for Colin who does a lot of work with him. It’s the same for me with regards to working with Anthony quite a lot.”

Richard: “It’s a very bonding experience because we all work very hard. It’s a very tough job so we hang on to each other and support each other.”

Bradley spoke more on that cast bonding experience.

“Somebody has brought a table tennis table to set and every lunchtime the crew and I pile on to this table tennis table and play lots of table tennis. And it resulted in a tournament between everyone. We had a doubles tournament. Angel played, Anthony played…”

Colin added: “What’s good is the writers have picked up on that. Everyone just gets on really well.”

Bradley concluded: “I think it’s important the show doesn’t get stale. As long as it keeps developing and going somewhere…

“Having read all the scripts for season two, I’m quietly confident that’s the case. And I think that’s the key with each series.

“But we’ll see how series two goes first before we start counting our chickens for a third.”

Merlin series two begins on BBC1 at 6:40pm tomorrow (Saturday)