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Boy Merlin, The

1 9 7 9 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes

Young Merlin (Ian Rowlands) is the fatherless son of the princess, Lady Iamena (Jennifer Daniel), fostered by Welsh blacksmith Dafydd (Donald Houston) and his wife Blodwen (Margaret John) and brought up as their own.

It is grandmother Myfanwy (Rachel Thomas) who knows of Merlin’s true destiny and foresees the time of King Arthur and it is she who teaches the boy the art of magic, despite Dafydd’s initial protests.

Merlin makes an enemy the day King Vortigern’s (Neil McCarthy) envoy, the Saxon Thane Octa (James Smith), is sent to take back the son of Iamena. Vortigern wishes to build a tower in this Welsh wilderness and the mortar will be mixed with the blood of Iamena’s long lost son, Ambrosius – Octa suspects that Merlin is the lost prince.

Merlin, under the tutelage of Myfanwy and her magic, sends him on his way by casting a spell on Octa’s horse.

The series – a spin-off from the excellent Shadows anthology series –  pitted Octa against the young magician as he tries to obtain Merlin’s blood.

Familiar aspects of Arthurian legend were woven into the episodes with the arrival of the Round Table and the appearance of The Lady Vivien of the Lake (Cyd Hayman) both featuring.

A novel take on the Arthurian myth before the birth of Arthur, the production was largely studio-bound. The series was hampered by the onset of industrial action at ITV, with a TV Times dispute blacking out most promotion for the series.

Ian Rowlands
Donald Houston
Margaret John
Rachel Thomas
Bryan Marshall
Derek Smith
James Smith
Neil McCarthy
Meredith Edwards
Hilary Tindall
Ray Barron
Liam O’Callaghan
Jennifer Daniel
The Lady Vivien
Cyd Hayman
Peter Mantle