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'Merlin' Angel Coulby series five Q&A: 'Gwen is quite ruthless now'

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Gwen

© BBC Pictures

Merlin is back, and as ever Digital Spy is here to provide you with some top-class coverage of the BBC One fantasy drama!

With the fantastic fifth series about to make its debut, we spoke to Angel Coulby about Gwen's new role as queen of Camelot, how Merlin has changed since its early days and why one particular ambition for her character has gone unfulfilled...

> Bradley James on Merlin future: "You need to leave on a high"

Gwen is now queen of Camelot - how does that change her and her relationship with Arthur (Bradley James)?
"Well, she's a lot more assertive now - she's had three years in between series to grow into this role and I think she's taken it on very well.

"I always thought she'd be quite a good queen anyway - she's always been very noble and had a lot of humility. She cares about the people - not just the aristocracy but the people who live in the lower town, so she's looking out for everybody.

"In terms of her relationship with Arthur, they're quite a good team - they confide in each other, they trust each other and they seem to be ruling very well as a partnership. They're very close, I think."

And does being made queen change her relationship with Merlin (Colin Morgan)?
"No, I think the friendship is definitely still there. Perhaps the only difference is he now sometimes calls her, 'My lady' - that's about all! She still respects him hugely and asks him for advice if she needs it. They've still got that close friendship."

It feels like the build-up is over and you're now acting out the famous part of the Arthurian legend - is that exciting?
"Well, for me particularly, I've been waiting for this moment - to become queen and to see how Gwen fits into that role. It gives you a bit more scope in terms of storylines, so I've always been quite excited about this moment.

"Yeah, I guess it is exciting that we're playing out the legends, although we are still doing it in our own way. You can't, for example, deal with some of the much darker elements from the stories, because it's just not that kind of show.

"We'd be making a very different show if we started to go down that road, so we've always handled that [type of thing] a bit more carefully and made sure that the show's still geared towards the audience we want it to be geared towards."

Merlin Season 5, Episode 1 - 'Merlin's Bane - Part 1'. King Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James) and Gwen (Angel Coulby)

© BBC / Shine



Mordred (now played by Alexander Vlahos) is back in series five. Can you give us any hints about his return?
"Um... Alex is great, but I can't really tell you any more than that! We're sworn to secrecy, but yeah, he comes back. I don't actually have too many dealings with him in terms of my character, so that's another reason why I can't tell you too much!"

We also know that Uther does return in some form. What was it like having Anthony Head back on set?
"It was lovely - we've really missed not having Anthony around, so when I found out that he was coming back, I was really excited. Although I have just been working with him on another show [BBC Two drama Dancing on the Edge], so it seems that we're destined to work together forever... which is no bad thing - I love working with Tony!"

How much interaction does Gwen have with Morgana this series?
"Morgana is the main villain of the show now and we do interact in this series. There's quite an exciting storyline involved with them both - it's in the middle of the series, so that's something to look forward to."

Do you miss working with Katie McGrath? A lot of your scenes in the early series were together...
"Yeah, we haven't worked together for a long time now. It's been two or three years since we've actually had any direct involvement. There was a little bit last series, but generally we haven't, so it was really nice to be working with her again. There's a juicy storyline that we both get to play out, so yeah, it's really fun."

Merlin: Morgana

© BBC



Gwen and Morgana faced off with swords in the last series. Does Gwen get to be an action queen?
"She's not as much of an action queen as I'd like. She does take charge at times definitely - she's very much involved in the court and the council. She's not a silent partner... but she doesn't wield a sword as much as I would like to see her doing so, unfortunately! I'm still yet to get that moment of her riding on a horse with a sword on her back, but hopefully that'll happen."

Do you encourage the writers to give you more action-packed scenes?
"Yeah, I keep dropping hints, but so far it's not happening!"

There's often talk of how much Merlin has changed and grown darker. Have you ever gone back to the early episodes and been shocked by how different the show is now?
"Yeah definitely. I think you learn from what you've done in the past and you try and improve on it. The writers and the producers want to be more ambitious with the show each time round and I think also the audience has grown up. The characters are dealing with life-and-death situations, so it would seem strange not to put a more serious, dramatic slant on those things and respect the age of the viewers who are watching it.

"This series, and I think last series as well, we focused more on the central characters and Arthur's emotional journey, so you're dealing with a more psychological show, I guess."

Merlin Season 5, Episode 1 - 'Merlin's Bane - Part 1'.

© BBC / Shine



Are you ever surprised by the range of Merlin fans - that the show's audience does range from young children to much older people?
"Yeah. I mean, just today we were doing an interview and the lady interviewing us, who was in her 30s, was saying, 'I'm a massive Merlin fan' - lots of people of all different ages do really love it. I think you can sit down and watch the show as a family and everyone will enjoy it, together.

"But am I surprised? I think it's a really well-made show, so I'm not surprised that it's got the respect that it has."

Can you give us one final teaser for the fifth series of Merlin?
"I'd say you can see Gwen being quite ruthless in this series, which is something you won't have seen before."

Merlin returns to BBC One this Saturday (October 6) at 7.45pm.

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