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29 October 2014
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Bradley James as Arthur

Merlin: a new 13-part drama series on BBC One

Bradley James plays Arthur

Bradley James admits audiences are in for a surprise when they first cast eyes on the young Prince Arthur in Merlin.


"No one is going to like him to begin with," he smiles.


The young man James portrays is a spoilt, boorish and over-protected teenager, which is one of the reasons why the 24-year-old, Devon-born actor was so keen to take on the role.


"One of the appeals of playing him is that he is not really perfect. He is not a noble figure to begin with. He is not a so-called hero, and he is not good for the sake of being good. There are flaws to him," he says.


"It's a long journey for him to make to become the Arthur that is so familiar to us."


Arthur's troubled past has made him a proud and emotionally repressed young man, Bradley explains.


"He is a teenager encroaching on adulthood. He's grown up without a mother and he's never had an outlet for his emotions so he is keeping a lot within himself," he says.


"He will be King one day. So he would not dare allow his friends to see a weaker side. He's expected to be a pillar of strength. There's a stubbornness that comes with that and as a result he is not able to sympathise with other people."


The arrival in Camelot of the mysterious young Merlin brings out Arthur's worst side at first.


"They fall out straight away when Merlin doesn't take too kindly to the way Arthur is treating a servant," he explains.


"Arthur tends to use brute force and ignorance to get what he wants."


"His privileged upbringing has an effect on his personality. When you grow up with people deferring to you it has an impact on the way you behave."


"But Merlin is a catalyst for a change in his behaviour," he says.


"He sees in Merlin a lot more than he judges at first and it helps him realise the kind of man he could become," he explains.


A sports fanatic, James admits he has had the time of his life working on Merlin.


"The workload has been very intense. The sword work was the thing I enjoyed the most. They were the most fun sequences. I think that's why they hired me. I look like I can run fast and swing a sword around with conviction," he smiles.


It was a steep learning curve, he admits. "On the first day I found myself holding a sword with Will Mellor charging at me like a maniac. It was like being thrown in at the deep end," he says.


"I learned on the job from the brilliant stunt director Andreas Petrides. He was fantastic. He made the whole thing quite easy."


James picked up more than his share of injuries during filming.


"I managed to pick up a bruise most days. I still have a couple of scratches on my arm from Will Mellor. It makes you feel like you are a big warrior hero suffering for his art," he smiles.








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