I’ve been interested in films and effects since I was a child, coupled with an obsession for knowing how things work.

Deconstructing things and making something else from the pieces often led to trouble from my parents.

I’d pull something apart (for that vital cog!) to the point where the item in question was broken beyond repair, generating a corresponding animated reaction from my father.

So to end up in special effects, I suppose was inevitable.

Effects are in essence all about creating an illusion, crafting the image of something happening for real when in reality it’s a manufactured event, like a cave wall collapsing or a building bursting into flames.

Of course the effect you see on the screen has to be controlled and happen without damage to the surroundings, cast or crew so safety is also one of our primary considerations during design and planning.

Working on Merlin was a delight and a privilege.

It was a rollercoaster script full of magic and natural effects (like rain, mist, wind, fire, a net trap etc) - a lot of which could be shot front of camera.

On occasion I had a team of up to six technicians depending on the complexity of the effect.

We’ve had many diverse challenges over the five years of filming from the very simple, such as extinguishing or igniting a burning torch on cue to the more complicated set-up of controlling a boat’s direction and speed around a weed-filled moat.

Earlier effects involved arranging a mattress to move independently around a room, to stop under a falling actor, breaking his fall.

We incorporated a hidden system of wires and pulleys into the set, and the mattress had to change direction too, so some lines needed to be released or extended during its travel.

It was basically a puppet moving on the horizontal plane.

We created a radio-controlled rolling barrel which chased some guards as a diversion, by using an adapted remote control car with a very lightweight barrel fitted to the front on a small universal joint.

Skeleton hands: series three, The Tears of Uther Pendragon - part two

To get these skeleton hands smashing out through stone tomb lids [above], the lids were copied from the originals and made from soft lightweight material which closely resembled stone.

The hands’ movements were operated from beneath.

And of course for the dragons breathing balls of fire in the clip below, we specially constructed pressure vessels to hold propane gas.

The gas was released instantly by a timed valve and ignited, giving precise control over the distance and size of the flame.

From series two, The Last Dragonlord

Whatever the effects, they were always an immense amount of fun to work out, work on and produce.

The snow in this series was one of our biggest setups.

We had the weather to consider when choosing the material as the more economic ‘snow’ was not weather-proof enough to endure a week’s filming in Wales.

The greater challenge, however, was the brief to construct the safe and fast-moving sleigh driven over rough, undulating ground by the lovely Morgana.

Morganna (Katie McGrath) on her sleigh, with Gwaine (Eoin Macken)

We wanted to use the actor (Katie McGrath) and not a stand-in, so for stability we chose to build it on three wheels with the front free steering.

We angled the rear two at 45 degrees to spread the footprint. An advantage of this was a softened, very realistic movement. We avoided using a rail which was both difficult to hide, expensive and also inflexible.

Instead, we pulled the sleigh over 30 metres on a hydraulic winch which, in the end, we had also built as there was not one in existence fast enough for our needs.

The end result was a perfect blend of safety and stable movement matching that of a sleigh at speed.

Colin Gorry is director of Colin Gorry Effects, the company which produces the special effects on Merlin.

Merlin continues on BBC One and BBC One HD on Saturday, 8 December at 7.55pm. For all programme times, please see the episode guide.

It's been announced that the current series of Merlin will be the last. See the official press release on the BBC Media Centre.

More on Merlin
Digital Spy: Merlin news and spoilers
Den of Geek: Merlin

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • Comment number 49. Posted by Cat

    on 25 Feb 2013 01:06

    The ending of this show was very disappointing. The promises that were made throughout the entire series (i.e., a golden age in Camelot, magic returning to the Camelot, Arthur becoming a great king) were left unfulfilled. I hope that the decision to end Merlin is reconsidered and it returns either as a series or movie(s) to at least provide a better ending.

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  • Comment number 48. Posted by Nikki

    on 15 Feb 2013 13:29

    Please put your special effects back into production and help bring Merlin back. Please take a look at the website Merlin2return.com we all want this show back ;0(

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by Cannon

    on 13 Feb 2013 22:02

    Very surprised & disappointed that the BBC has axed Merlin. I have never missed an episode & really enjoy the show, as do many friends. I see on Facebook that there is global interest in seeing it back on our screen, so I hope something can be done. If Bobby Ewing could wake from a dream, then maybe Arthur can sail back into our lives! Fingers crossed!

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by Timefiller

    on 28 Jan 2013 16:09

    Great acting throughout Merlin and brilliant in the final episodes. However a very disappointing ending in terms of the writing as many others have also said. The trick is to leave people satisfied with closure or wanting more with closure and I reckon 75% of fans do not have a sense of closure.

    We ended up with Arthur dying before he sees Albion (unlike the traditional legend where he sees a time of Albion before dying as an older man) and poor Merlin wandering the earth for 1000+ years seeing everyone he's known and loved come and go (and without Arthur).

    Given that this was supposed to be Merlin before the years of the traditional legend then it wasn't necessary to kill off Arthur and to have that frankly daft flash forward (I think it was meant to fill us with hope but actually left us feeling sad for Merlin).

    It's not the fault of the BBC as they used a production company but personally I think they owe it to the fans to at least run a Christmas special and give the series proper closure.

    It could have been left with Arthur alive and about to lead a time of Albion, Merlin recognised and appreciated and Mordred still alive for the death of Arthur in the future (as per the legend).

    Superb acting but I won't be buying the DVD or watching it again purely because of that ending. Lots of fans invested time and emotion for 5 years only to experience that end...

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  • Comment number 45. Posted by Jessica Vaughan

    on 24 Jan 2013 13:39

    BBC please bring bring back Merlin it is the best TV show around and it teaches you alot to that people now a days have forgotten. Do not change the actors or actresses they are amazing and i think that you pick the right people for each part, Colin should stay as Merlin, please do not change you cast & crew and please bring Merlin back BBC and when yaw finished the season the way you did yaw left alot of stuff from history and what you had shown in season 5. I think a Season 6,7 & 8 and possible more should be done.

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by ~dc74967003fa5c63f2c26ffd109625c7237ff241

    on 20 Jan 2013 13:49

    A fantastic series.Final episode an after thought definitely not in keeping with rest of episodes.Very poor ending in every sense of the word.Almost makes me think probs within.??????

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by MissingMerlin

    on 18 Jan 2013 18:45

    Merlin may have ended on Christmas Eve 2012 in the UK but we are campaigning to get it back on our screens. Please join us! Your voices need to be heard:

    Twitter: @merlin2return
    URL: www.facebook.com/merlin2return
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiheKr9zOew&feature=youtu.be

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Jacquie

    on 7 Jan 2013 17:17

    Please keep the show going. It is the only show I look forward to seeing on TV now. I can't understand not producing more seasons with so many people loving this show. Please keep it on the aire.

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by Ted

    on 7 Jan 2013 02:48

    Why did they kill the golden goose? what about the adventures that Arthur and Merlin could have had now that Merlin had shown his true talent? I am devistated and can't believe it is over and the ending with a truck driving past has now dated Merlins ability to return unless he comes to us in todays world and lets face it there is no magic or dragons in this super stressed modern world.
    My only means of escape has gone evan if it was for 1 hour it was the best 1 hour of the week. You have done Merlin fans wrong!!!

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by suzyQ

    on 5 Jan 2013 18:52

    I loved this show the special effects were brill. I can't believe it's the end and what a disappointing ending it could have been so much more. We never saw enough of Merlin's powers, flash bang and that was it. His destiny was to save Arthur and he failed. I am left wanting more. Why did the writers end it in this way after all this time. Shame on you writers where was your imagination? Clearly you don't have any.

    Suzy
    A sad Merlin fan.

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