December 13th – Advent

Roy Ward

Day 13 – Vada Advent Calendar

Merlin – The Complete Collection – Review

I’ll be honest – I missed the boat with the BBC’s Merlin back when it first aired, between 2008 and Christmas 2012. I knew about it, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I ever saw a single second of it.

I can now safely say that I am an idiot, because it’s actually brilliant.

As a kid, one of my favourite videos was the made-for-TV movie Merlin, featuring Jurassic Park‘s Sam Neill as the eponymous wizard and Miranda “Queenie-out-of-Blackadder” Richardson as Queen Mab. I loved the Arthurian legends, the magic, the action, the intrigue. The BBC took all of that, and rather than play out that familiar story, it twists and subverts it, whilst still giving the occasional nod to the more traditional Arthur and Merlin mythos.

Merlin : The Complete Collection is now out, a 27-disc box set featuring every episode and loads of bonus features – and whether you’re a hardcore fan or a newbie, it’s all the Merlin you could ever want or need.

If you’ve never seen it (shame on you), here are five reasons why you really really should.

5 ) It’s a teeny-tiny bit homoerotic

Merlin and Arthur-Homoerotic

It’s not intentional. At least, I don’t think it is. But it’s undeniably there – a super-adorable bromance between Merlin and Arthur. Lots of lingering glances, firm shoulder grips and lots of hugging. It’s kind of hot.

4) Richard Wilson (i.e. Victor Meldrew) looks fab in a wig.


As Merlin’s mentor Gaius, everyone’s favourite grumpy old man Richard Wilson excels – he’s wise, he’s caring, and he’s still occasionally very grumpy. Dat hair, tho…

3) Arthur is very very very sexy.

Bradley James Shirtless - Merlin

Thank you, God, for Bradley James’s bod. Arthur gets shirtless a lot. It’s good.

2) Not all the characters are white.

Merlin - Gwen

We’re not dealing with history here, folks. It’s mythology. There’s no need to be a major stickler for accuracy – and the creators of Merlin made a pretty awesome decision to cast black actors as some of the major characters in the show. Gwen (or Queen Guinevere, as you may know her) is played to perfection by the stunningly beautiful Angel Coulby (above), and it’s perfect casting. Bravo.

1) It’s a lot of fun.

Merlin - Dragon

It was really popular for a reason – it’s got a lot going on. It’s funny, it’s tense, it’s heartbreakingly sad, it’s exciting – it’s everything. There are some great actors, both the household names like John Hurt and Antony Head, and the newer faces like Colin Murphy and Bradley James, and a stellar line-up of guest stars and familiar faces along the way. The special effects are genuinely impressive for a UK-made TV show and the writing just zips along.

You’ve got some big shoes to fill, Atlantis…


Merlin: The Complete Collection is out now – check it out on Amazon UK.

About Roy Ward

When Roy was 7 a girl tied him to a tree and tried to set him on fire. He now lives in Leeds with his boyfriend. These facts may be connected. Vada's Deputy Editor, he loves pop culture in all its forms, plus feminism; drag queens and Nigella Lawson. Find him on Twitter @badlydrawnroy.