Who Casts Its Spell On Merlin

Who Casts Its Spell On Merlin

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If the wait until the Doctor's thrilling rematch with the Cybermen this Christmas is proving too much, BBC One's latest Saturday night family drama has plenty of Who connections to keep fans of the Time Lord interested.

For example, Julie Gardner, the head of drama at BBC Wales, explained that working with Doctor Who's executive producer and lead writer Russell T Davies was key in the development of Merlin.

"I learned so much about the 7pm slot from Russell T Davies' Doctor Who scripts and from his approach as an executive producer to that particular slot," she revealed. "Russell's been a huge supporter of Merlin. He immediately saw its potential and proved invaluable in early discussions about how to shape the series for Saturday night."

It's not just behind the cameras that Doctor Who's influence on Merlin is felt though. Plenty of familiar faces from the world of Doctor Who are involved in the show, filmed only a stone's throw away from the Doctor Who studios outside Cardiff.

Eve Myles, who took a leading role in Torchwood after a guest stint on Doctor Who, enjoyed featuring in the first episode of Merlin as a witch who takes over the body of a beautiful singer.

"Yes I was absolutely desperate to get a part of that," Eve told us. "To be playing a 100 year old witch in the mystical magical fantasy world of Merlin is a treat. It's a challenge and it's something very different for me to do. I won't have any Eve Myles fans after this though. Is that what she's going to look like in a couple of years' time?"

Merlin himself, actor Colin Morgan isn't a complete stranger to BBC Wales either, after an appearance in the spooky Series four episode Midnight. Doctor Who casting director Andy Pryor was involved in Colin getting the key role. "I saw Colin in a play about a week before we got Russell's script for Midnight, got him in for an audition and we cast him," said Andy. "Doctor Who was Colin's first part in TV drama."

Anthony Head's character in Merlin is hellbent on banishing magic from Camelot, but what would King Uther make of Anthony's previous role in Doctor Who's School Reunion as the shapeshifting headmaster, Mr Finch?

The legendary One Foot In The Grave actor, Richard Wilson, plays the humble physician Gaius, but you may remember him as another benevolent medic in 'The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances'. Merlin appears on Gaius' doorstep looking for guidance. It's more a case of "Are you my mentor?" than "Are you my mummy?" in this instance!

Finally, Angel Coulby has landed the role of Guinevere, who has an almighty crush on Merlin. But did you spot that she too has appeared in Doctor Who - as Madame Pompadour's friend Katherine in The Girl In The Fireplace?

With James Hawes, director of such classics as The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Christmas Invasion, helming several episodes, Merlin is certainly something of a mini Doctor Who reunion! Very apt, when you consider that Classic series adventure Battlefield (1989) revealed that a future incarnation of the Doctor might actually be the mythical magician!

Merlin can be seen on Saturday nights on BBC One. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up on BBC iPlayer or via the official Merlin website.

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