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Julian Murphy (‘Merlin’: Series 5) interview

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With the fifth series of BBC One’s Merlin currently in production, CultBox caught up with the fantasy drama’s co-creator Julian Murphy for a chat and asked him some of your questions…

How’s Series 5 filming going so far?

“It’s going very well, very smooth so far. I’m touching a piece of wood because you never know, but so far so good! We’re filming episodes 4, 5 and 6 as we speak.”

Are you aiming for the series to be broadcast in the usual autumn slot?

“That’s our understanding, yep. We expect to be pretty much where we were last time, up against The X Factor. They don’t tell us for certain until very late in the day though!”

@Alana_Morgana asks: Are you going to introduce any new characters from the legends in Series 5?

“We are introducing more, yes. We’re doing some more legends, to be fair. I think that’s a better way of putting it. There’s plenty of legends appearing, although we always want to put a different spin on it.

“It’s interesting, I think you guys did a ‘stories we’d like to see’ piece – well, at least two of those you will see, although perhaps not quite as you expect!”

You’ve got Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) guest starring this year, along with Lindsay Duncan and Janet Montgomery returning too. Do you have a list of dream guest stars for the show?

“We do! We also increasingly hear about people who want to be in it and sometimes that gloriously matches the part. It’s all about lucky really. We’re genuinely surprised and delighted when we hear who wants to do it.

“The problem we have is that as our character base gets stronger and larger and richer, we actually have less guest stars. We now don’t have anything like as many meaty guest roles as we did in the first two series.

“We’ve got a big cast now. We’ve got a whole bunch of Knights who very developed characters in their own right and want to develop them further. There’s plenty of regular characters that we feel we want to write about.

“But we have some fantastic people in this year. We’re happy to officially say that Alexander Vlahos is playing the older Mordred.”

Will Mordred be around for a while in Series 5?

“Yes, he’s in a lot of it.”

When you first started the show and had a rough five-year plan, did you have a wish list of characters from the legends that you wanted to cover?

“When we first started the show, we were more conscious of what we couldn’t do than what we could, in fact. Because at its heart the legend is very dark, when we began Merlin – and we were in an earlier transmission slot back then, going out at about 6.15pm – we felt we had to be very careful about which ones we did and had to change quite a lot.

“Now that we have King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, it’s actually far easier to plunder those legends.”

The show’s been getting slightly darker each year, will that pattern continue with Series 5?

“Probably yes, I think that’s fair to say. We don’t anticipate transmitting any earlier in the evening than we did last year, so we’ve got to deliver a show that works for an audience in that slot.”

I imagine that kids who started watching back in 2008 have grown up with it too…

“That’s true, yes, as happens with many of these things – I guess Harry Potter being the most famous example – you do take the younger audience with you and to keep them you need to offer more sophisticated fare.”

@angelcoulbynet and @tami2205 ask: Will Gwen be more present in Series 5 now that she’s queen and will we get any back story on Gwen?

“I would say yes to both. In Series 5 time has passed. This is now the established court of Arthur and Guinevere is now Queen, so you see her in a wildly different role to before. And yes, we do return to her family.”

@DrMer asks: Will there be any new regular female characters?

“There are new female characters this year and one or two returning ones actually that we felt had a real strength.

“Also I think it’s safe to say that we’re going on very interesting journeys with both Morgana and Gwen this year, but that’s all I’ll say! I genuinely think that those two characters go on paths that people won’t expect.”

> Read the second part of our exclusive interview with Julian.

What are your hopes for Series 5? Let us know below…

> Buy the Complete Series 4 boxset on Amazon.

Watch a clip from Series 4…