How have things changed for Merlin and Arthur since series four?
CM: Things are serious. There’s stuff happening up North in the frozen lands. The big thing is there’s a three-year gap, so immediately you see Camelot in a different state, one that [Arthur’s] wanting it to be, and Merlin finds his place in that as well. There’s definitely a maturing in general of the whole series, but the banter’s still there between the two characters because that’s who they’ll always be, even though their situations are a lot more serious.
BJ: I can’t better that at all! The one point to pick up on purely form my character’s point of view is we’ve got a lot closer to the Camelot Arthur’s been trying to achieve, and having got there it’s now under threat. You put it so well, I really can’t… tough act to follow
Have you shot in any memorable locations?
BJ: On the hottest day of the year we shot in what was supposed to be a frozen landscape. It was roasting. We were sweating. And they were like, “Could you shiver more?” “No. We can sweat more.”
CM: We were getting snow blindness as well because it was essentially just a big reflector up in your face all day, but I think that stuff’s gonna look awesome. That was here in Wales
Does the loss of Uther still have an effect on Arthur in series five?
BJ: Whenever you lose anyone there’s always moments in your life where you will take time to reflect on that person, and when you do those can be quite heavy times. It’s touched onthis series, there is a moment to respect the idea Arthur has come from the tutelage of his father who, from the audience’s point of view, only recently disappeared.
How has Merlin’s relationship with Gaius changed?
CM: Merlin is definitely becoming a lot more independent of Gaius. He’s becoming a lot more independent in general. He’s not so active in going for advice from people now. He’s often going and saying, “This is how it is, is it right?” Rather than “Tell me what to do.” It’s almost at that stage where he’s ready to leave home, but he’ll still be home for breakfast, he’ll still return for that.
Now that Arthur is the King of Camelot has your role changed? Has he got you collecting pigs for taxes or anything like that?
EM: That would be fun!
RY: There are a lot of tax collections…
EM: It’s my question!
Are there many knight-specific storylines this year?
EM: Yeah there’s a few, especially the start and the end. And there’s very specific threads each of the knight’s go through. We’ve been a bit more heroic this year. When we had Uther, the knights were more there as a sounding block for Arthur, and his support, but they’ve all had to mature a bit more because there’s more serious things at stake.
RY: The stakes are definitely higher. It’s a war, not a battle, so it’s a lot more serious. There’s a tension throughout that in the past hasn’t always been there.
Have your costumes changed?
EM: Yeah. Really annoyingly. I really liked my costume in series three, and then they started giving me more armour, and you feel a little bit like you’re just being closed in this…
RY: The show’s become more epic and I think the costume has done the same. And it can be annoying for some people, who are difficult, but sometimes you get what you’re given
What are your hopes for this series?
EM: I hope that we can educate people. The values… no, no I’m taking this seriously! The great thing about Merlin is that there are a lot of morals wrapped in it, and it does actually centre around trying to impart values that are important, about relationships. It’s important that the show, while it’s fun, aspires to educate at the same time.
RY: You see that in Merlin, he’s on his own really. He has Gaius but he’s an outcast in some ways. There are people who feel like that, and we can show that outcasts can do amazing things.
EM: Yeah, it’s important. As a child I was incredibly shy and was bullied. That’s why Merlin’s popular, because he’s representative of a lot of children at that age. We do joke and do all these interviews taking the mick… see, your readers are falling asleep now… but it’s important that the characters are heroic.
Has life changed now that you’re the queen of Camelot?
AC: Yeah, people sprinkle rose petals wherever I walk…
KM: It’s really expensive to bring them in every morning.
AC: No, nothing’s changed. It’s exactly the same as it was before. Maybe a little more fussing because of the costume. I’m not a method actress or anything, so I’m not insisting on people treating me differently.
KM: I find people spit at me a lot now, throw rotten food in my face. “You hurt Colin!”
There’s a three year gap between series four and five. What have you been up to in the meantime?
KM: You discover in the three years that [Morgana] has been held captive by a bandit king in another land, and it’s a direct persecution of her as a magical being. It’s a fulfilment of all those fears she’s always had about having magic. That’s why in series five she’s much more committed.
What’s an average day like for you on set?
AC: Let’s be honest, it’s not boring because we’re working with great people, but the process of filming can be quite boring. Sometimes you have days where you’re just doing little tiny bits, which we tend to fill with having fun, enjoying ourselves, taking the mick out of eachother. But if you’re in on your own, it can be a little boring. Not gonna lie.
KM: I do wonder when the glamour is going to start though. You know, when you’re knee-deep in mud and it’s raining.
AC: They said there’d be glamour
KM: I always thought, becoming an actress, there’d be glamour. You know, there’d be hot men and…
AC: I think people might think we have hot men here!
What has it been like joining the cast in the show’s fifth series?
AV: It was a little bit daunting because of the part I’m playing and the familiarity between everyone else. First thing, when I got to the readthrough, I saw Justin (Molotnikov), director of the first block, and he said, “You alright?” And I said, “I’m going to be honest with you, I’m bricking myself.”
How was your first day on the job?
AV: My first day was like a baptism of fire, doing episode one and two stuff, and immediately the pressure went away. I had a lot of scenes with Colin and Bradley, then some stuff with the knights. It’s like dress up. You get in, put on these clothes, and come onto set wielding swords and talking in spells. You just think, “This is bonkers, I’m getting paid to do something like this.”
How much did you look to Asa Butterfield’s performance when establishing your take on Mordred?
AV: Asa’a Mordred is very well-loved, that creepy little boy with the cloak and the bright blue eyes. People always remember how he was, so having to take that on board was trick and I know for die-hard fans, having someone replace that is hard. I want people to know I am aware of it and I’m trying to do it justice. I’ve tried to make him my own, while also throwing nods to the past.
Previously Mordred would pop out of the shadows to briefly cause havoc. Does he occupy the same role this series?
AV: He’s a main game-player and he doesn’t go away. I wouldn’t say causing havoc, he has a much stronger through-line. The whole point of Mordred in this series is “What’s he going to do? Why is he here?” The first time you see him, it’s Mordred, and Merlin knows it’s Mordred. There is no mask or façade at all, but that’s so much better. His identity is revealed from the off,in a really surprising way. People are thinking he’s come in to do the double act with Morgana but it’s so much more complicated than that. If I could describe Mordred in one word it would be ambiguous - you don’t really know where his allegiances lie, and that’s brilliant to play.