Why I love Merlin, and the BBC

I don’t have that much time for television these days, which might be why I resent how much rubbish is on our screens. I don’t mean the children’s programmes I watch with the Jam – a lot of what’s on CBeebies is rather good – even if I have seen every episode of ‘Grandpa in My Pocket’ at least twice. I think ‘X Factor’ et al are cheap and cruel; celebrities on islands and in jungles are gratuitous and generally feature wannabe or has-been ‘celebrities’ rather than anyone I’d choose to watch; ‘Big Brother’ started off as an interesting social experiment with normal(ish) people and now exploits those who are vulnerable and/or irritating. I admit I like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, but only watch it in the last few weeks when everyone is good enough that it’s not embarrassing. I also loved ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ but there’s nothing I can say to defend that one, sorry.

There are a few programmes I do like though; none are particularly high-brow but all are engaging and entertaining because they combine strong plots, rounded characters and talented actors. It’s not rocket science…

My current favourite is the latest series of ‘Merlin’ on the BBC. Now I have actually read the Morte d’Arthur (more quickly and less throughly than I would have liked as exams were looming) and part of the pleasure is spotting how elements of the original legends have been incorporated and adapted. The cast is great and the balance of drama and comedy is usually spot-on for Saturday night viewing. After the big two-part opening to the season, episode three was unlikely to add anything significant to the show’s mythology but I enjoyed it for several reasons:

Giles aka Uther. (Image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

1. Arthur attacking Merlin with a spoon. (Off-camera, but the yelp said it all.)

2. Anthony Stewart Head is back. (Evil Giles – I miss Buffy…)

3. Merlin finally getting to tell Uther what he thinks of him. (Even DH liked this bit and asked hopefully “Is he going to magic his ass back to deadland now?”)

4. Arthur magicking Uther’s ass back to deadland to save Merlin.

Good stuff. I just hope the series lasts until ‘Sherlock’ is back on, otherwise I’m going to have to start watching ‘The Thick of It’ with DH. It’s very good, but it’s a bit too much like real life for me.

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