Prepare to fall under the spell of Merlin. CTV announced today it has secured the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to the widely sought-after hit series from FremantleMedia Enterprises. CTV joins some of the world’s leading broadcasters, including NBC in the United States, that have acquired the highly anticipated series, which just debuted to critical and ratings acclaim on the BBC. The announcement was made on Day 3 of the MIPCOM international television market in Cannes, France. Featuring a stellar cast and magical special effects, the 13-part, one-hour drama series joins an impressive mid-season schedule returning to CTV in 2009, including Lost, American Idol and Dancing With the Stars.
Merlin premiered last month on the BBC, enchanting audiences and conjuring an impressive 7.15 million viewers, making it the most watched drama series of the week. U.K. media were unanimous in their acclaim: “This has all the right ingredients to be a Saturday evening hit for the whole family to enjoy,” said TV Times; “Our 21st century gets the version it deserves,” said The Mail on Sunday; and The Times called it “a razzy prime-time drama.”
Set in the mythical city of Camelot, the action-packed fantasy drama revisits the saga of a teenaged Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and the clashes with his young wizard, Merlin (Colin Morgan, Doctor Who). The story centres on these two ambitious young men, struggling to understand their destinies on the path to becoming extraordinary. The young, up-and-coming leads are joined by a stellar cast including Santiago Cabrera (Heroes) as Lancelot, Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Uther, Richard Wilson (A Passage To India) as Gauis, Angel Coulby (Magicians) as Guinevere and Katie McGrath (The Tudors) as Morgana. Legendary actor John Hurt lends his iconic voice as the Great Dragon.
“This series takes viewers back to a time before Merlin, the boy, becomes the great mythical sorcerer we know so well today,” said Susanne Boyce, CTV’s President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc. “With a compelling cast, spectacular special effects and an epic scope, Merlin provides a contemporary take on a timeless story for viewers of all ages.”
Commented David Ellender, CEO FremantleMedia Enterprises, “FME and CTV already share a strong partnership and it’s great to be working together on another exciting brand such as Merlin, one of the most promising dramas we have amongst our portfolio.”
The eagerly anticipated series begins long before Arthur becomes King. Arthur’s father is Uther Pendragon, who has outlawed magic in the mythical city of Camelot. Gaius is the court physician who takes Merlin under his wing and helps guide him with his magical powers. It’s a rites of passage story that sees Merlin and Arthur on the cusp of adulthood – both on their journey to greatness in a time before history began.
Visually, Camelot comes alive for television like never before. Shine Television’s Emmy Award winning production team brings Merlin to life, with the spectacular CGI effects created by The Mill, the Oscar winning visual effects team behind Gladiator. The series was shot in Wales, France and England.
Merlin is a Shine production for the BBC. FremantleMedia Enterprises has invested in the series alongside Shine Television and BBC One, and is the exclusive international rights holders for distribution, licensing, and home entertainment (excluding the U.K.).