Those of you in the UK may know that season four of the BBC’s Merlin is coming to a close on Christmas Eve. I’ve watched the series since the first episode in 2008 and have largely enjoyed it.
There is a real challenge in taking such an ingrained myth and re-working it and you will never please everyone. I believe that the great value in storytelling is the new embellishments added generation on generation that take a short tale to an epic myth. With this in mind I respect the efforts that the BBC have made to do justice to the legend of Arthur whilst bringing it to a new audience.
Unfortunately, I’ve felt that there are times when the script writers and directors have let themselves down, some episodes have seemed rushed and cobbled together. There has been an embarrassing array of contrived actions that make little or no sense, with characters acting unthinkingly as if to avoid a deeper or more complex storyline.
Yet I am conscious that the original myth is even more simple, painted in broad strokes so do we want realism or just rip-roaring fun with shallow, easy to follow, heroes and villains?
Is the BBC just trying to walk a fine line between the two?
I like what they’ve done with this season however, it is, as promised, darker and deeper. There is still much that is skimmed over when it could be explored, yet there is something more mature to season four and I have enjoyed it and am genuinely looking forward to the finale and season five.
In honour of the end of this, the best series of Merlin so far, I thought I would share with you some of the many (many) photographs I took on a trip to Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire earlier this year.
Puzzlewood and the Forest of Dean played a crucial part in my childhood, many happy family weekends were spent there, under an hour from my home. Puzzlewood itself is an amazing place and it’s no wonder that the cast and crew of Merlin have spent an increasing amount of time there over the series to the extent they’re there almost every episode now!
The wood is a magical environment created by ‘Scowles’, a geological effect of the erosion of an underground cave system formed millions of years ago. These caves made their way to the surface where the iron was then mined during the Iron Age through to Roman times.
So many places that hold childhood memories can be a disappointment in adulthood, but Puzzelwood was not like that for me. It was every bit as breathtaking and mystical as it always had been. It’s a space when, in the heart of it, you can imagine a world of magic and adventure. If there were wood elves and nymphs living anywhere in our modern world, it would be there.