Merlin- The Tears of Uther Pendragon (Part Ye Seconde)

When I was a mere kiddiwink, my family used to go to a theme park called Camelot in the North West.

It’s a Scouse Alton Towers, basically, with crumbling plaster cast Knights (none of whom, sadly, say ‘Ni’), a petting zoo and magic shows. But they do have real life jousting tournaments and suchlike, which is all jolly fun.

They also have an area called ‘Merlin’s Playland’, with various children’s rides and a miniature pirate ship (because, you know, there were a lot of pirates in Iron Age Britain). I really think they’re missing a trick there- and a BBC tie-in would be a great idea. I have a few suggestions:

Ride: The Slightly-Odd Dragon Conversation

You awake from a toxin-induced coma to find a large CGI dragon looming over you. Instead of eating your face off, it gives you a lecture about how your faith in human nature may ultimately prove to be your undoing, then gives you a lift back home like a giant scaly bus.

Entertainment: The Evil Gurn-Off

Join evil sisters Morgana and Morgause, a long-haired frowning warlord and some unnamed minions for an exercise in pantomime face-twisting. Can you beat Morgana’s cackling leer? Morgause’s sultry, squinting version of the evil eye? Warning- if you do, they’ll throw you to some giant scorpions.

Refreshments: Gaius’s Potion Parlour

Not sure who you are, what you are, whether you’re the King of Albion or just an actor who used to be in some Gold Blend commercials? Don’t worry, Richard ‘Gaius’ Wilson has a nice bottle of something potent that’ll make you all better. Shhh. It’s ok. Shhh. Just lie down. Shhh. There you go. Shhh.

Saturday’s episode of Merlin had all of this and much more. Like the theme park, it’s a bit rough round the edges at times, there’s quite a lot of silliness involved and the historical accuracy is… well, utterly non existent. But (stretching the metaphor to it’s very limit) like a theme park, it’s also very fun, exhilarating and enjoyable for All The Family. Providing the family don’t mind forking out £7.99 for a Ye Olde Hotte Dogge.

Sorry, lost sight of my metaphor there.

Anyway, Morgana is almost entirely evil now – judging by her make up, which seems to be getting paler with each scene. I strongly expect she’ll look like Gene Simmonds from Kiss by next week.

There’s an army marching on Camelot led by her sister Morgause and a hapless warlord they’ve dragged along for the ride. Young King Arthur has to decide what to do, as his father – King Giles off of Buffy – has been incapacitated by Morgana’s weird spell that seems to involve a man-shaped root and a shedload of treacle.

Evil treacle, perhaps.

Arthur opts for a siege, as no army has ever taken Camelot before (well, apart from the 128th East Lancashire Fusiliers, who hired it for their team-building away day in 2007). Sounds like a plan, you say? Ah. Ahahaha. No. It would have been a great idea if he didn’t have a massive, obvious traitor with magical powers in his midst. But, despite looking more evil than a squadron of Lord Voldemorts on their way to a baby barbecue, only Merlin and Gaius know that Morgana is a baddie. And they can’t say very much about it as King Giles off of Buffy thinks the sun shines out of her bottom. So to speak.

The whole siege was impressively CGI-tastic, given the BBC don’t have the same kind of budget as, say, The Lord of the Rings films. Morgana retires to the crypt and raises an army of the dead using a glowing rowan staff. The sword-wielding skeletors were a bit Ray Harryhausen-esque, but still rather scary and the whole thing made for top-flight escapist Saturday night entertainment.

Oh, and for all that I really don’t rate Morgana/Gene Simmonds pantomime performance as a whole, her emotion-wracked confrontation with Merlin in the crypt was very well done, and showed a few cracks in her ‘EVIL FTW!’ persona.

The only thing they need to ditch immediately and utterly is the He-Man style ‘laugh off’ at the end. ‘I don’t think anything could make me that angry,’ says Merlin, seriously. Cue Prince Arthur walking in and being rude about socks or something.

(Comedy music) Merlin: ‘Or maybe not!!’ ‘Ahahahaha’, says Gaius. ‘Ahahahaha’ says Merlin. (/comedy music)

But that was a minor niggle in what was, for all intents and purposes, a very entertaining 45 minutes of telly.


About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at

2 Responses to Merlin- The Tears of Uther Pendragon (Part Ye Seconde)

  1. This is so utterly spot-on that it’s not even funny!!! except it IS funny. Obviously.

    • ladyribenaberet says:

      Phew. That bit where you said ‘it’s not even funny’ made me ALARMED. But then you said ‘except it IS funny’, and I was all like…phew.

      Glad you liked!

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