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23/07/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Merlin in the USA - or Buy Merlin in the UK

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Merlin is a new 13-part Saturday night fantasy drama for family audiences due to hit BBC One September 2008. John Hurt has just been cast as the Voice of the Great Dragon.

The new series follows the unlikely friendship of a would-be wizard (Merlin) and the future King (Prince Arthur).

The drama brings together a cast of British actors (Richard Wilson as Gaius, Anthony Head as King Uther Pendragon) as well as new faces. Colin Morgan is the young wizard Merlin, Bradley James is the arrogant but brave Prince Arthur, rising star Angel Coulby is Guinevere and newcomer Katie McGrath is Morgana. John Hurt has just been cast as the Voice of the Great Dragon - enigmatic and powerful, the dragon alone knows Merlin's true destiny.

Julie Gardner, Head of Drama, BBC Wales, told, "In this new version, Merlin and Arthur are young contemporaries for the first time ever, bringing a much-loved tale to a whole new generation with a fresh, youthful new look and approach for Saturday nights this autumn on BBC One. I am thrilled to announce John Hurt has just been cast as the voice of the Great Dragon. He is Merlin's mythological mentor and the only dragon left with magic powers. It is an absolute privilege to be working with him, as he brings real gravity to the series, alongside a strong core cast and brilliant guests."

He will be joined by Heroes star Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot and Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan as the wicked sorceress Nimueh.

Further guest stars include Eve Myles (Torchwood, Doctor Who) as Mary Collins (episode one), Will Mellor (Two Pints of Lager And A Packet of Crisps) as Valiant (episode two) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing) as Edwin Muirden (episode five).

The series begins long before Arthur becomes King. Arthur's father is Uther Pendragon, the tyrannical King of Camelot who has outlawed magic in the mythical city. 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 which sees Merlin and Arthur on the cusp of adulthood both on their journey to greatness in a time before history began.

Merlin is created and produced by Shine Television.

Johnny Capps at Shine Television, told us, "It's a privilege to be given the opportunity to reinvent a classic British legend for this important family slot. We have a wonderful cast and fantastic locations, which we hope will bring alive the magic and myth of Camelot for a new audience."

Merlin is being filmed in Wales and France while CGI effects are being created by The Mill, the special effects team behind Gladiator and Doctor Who.

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