The rumors are true. BBC One has confirmed that the current season of their hit fantasy drama Merlin will be the show’s last. The show’s fifth season will wrap with a two-part finale which promises a “natural and dramatic end.” I hear that the decision to end the series with its fifth season on a “creative high” was made by the creators rather than executives at the BBC. The BBC now has the un-enviable task of finding a new family drama that can go head to head with ITV’s X-Factor in prime-time on Saturday nights, just as Merlin has successfully done since its inception in 2008.
Merlin tells the story of the legendary wizard during the times of King Arthur. The drama series is produced by Shine TV and stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath, Richard Wilson and John Hurt. The show has been a staple of BBC One’s Saturday night schedule for the past five years, consistently attracting an average audience of over 6 million viewers, with ratings for the current series peaking at 7.1 million. The show is also aired in 183 countries worldwide, with the fifth season of Merlin set to receive its US premiere on Syfy early next year. Statements from Co-Creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy; BBC One Controller Danny Cohen; and cast members Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby and Richard Wilson follow below.
Statement from Co-Creators and Executive Producers Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy:
“This is the series where the storylines truly reach their apex. We always felt the story of the legend was best told across five series, leading to a spectacular finale that draws on the best known elements of this much-loved story and brings to a conclusion the battle for Camelot. We’d like to thank the amazing cast and crew for their professionalism and dedication, the BBC, FME and all of our partners globally for their incredible support and encouragement across the last five series. But chiefly, our thanks go to Merlin’s remarkable and loyal audience around the world for their enthusiasm for the characters and Camelot universe.”
Statement from BBC One Controller Danny Cohen:
“Merlin’s mix of magic, adventure and humour quickly became a hit with BBC One audiences and has continued to thrill families over the last five years on Saturday nights. I admire the creators’ decision to end Merlin on a high, but also know that we will miss it in the BBC One schedule. On behalf of BBC One I would like to thank Shine and all those involved in the making of the show both on and off screen. I hope fans will tune in over the coming weeks to see the spectacularly dramatic final episodes, and we have ambitious plans for new drama in the Saturday evening slot in 2013”
Statement from Colin Morgan (Merlin):
“From the beginning this was always going to be a five year journey that we embarked on and I think the show has run its natural course. The show has grown and grown each year and now we’ve arrived at its strongest point and we’ve achieved what we set out to do… I know this is the end, and I know this is goodbye, but thank you for being there on the journey with us because it has been a lot of fun!”
Statement from Bradley James (King Arthur):
“The Merlin years have provided me with fond memories, great experiences and beloved friends and all the while we were supported by a devoted fan base who made the show a unique, surreal and special experience. My words won’t do justice to the honour of being King Arthur so I shall just say that it has been an exceptional one and that knowing the show has been a part of so many people’s lives, has been humbling.”
Statement from Katie McGrath (Morgana):
“I have always said the success of the show has stemmed from our audience being able to relate to the characters on different levels – being based on the universally loved Arthurian legend is only a tiny part of its success – it’s a story about acceptance and growing up. The breathtaking finale of this series leaves you with no doubt that characters have been on their journeys and had their stories told – it’s completely the right time to draw our telling of the story to a close.”
Statement from Angel Coulby (Guinevere):
“It has been a very special and memorable five years making Merlin. I feel extremely proud to have been part of such a brilliant show and such a great team. I think we’ve told the story we set out to tell, which ends with the fantastic two part finale by the way! I believe the key to any successful show is making sure you leave people wanting more!”
Statement from Richard Wilson (Gaius):
“Firstly I would like to say that I’m extremely sad that Merlin has come to an end. Speaking as Gaius, I feel I have mentored the young wizard as far as I can – he is much smarter and greater than me now and I am simply exhausted!”