BBC One‘s popular Saturday evening drama Merlin is to end with the final episodes to air at Christmas the corporation has announced.

The fifth season of the fantasy drama, currently airing on BBC One, will be the last it has been announced. The news ends speculation over whether a sixth season will follow but could potentially clear the way for a movie adaptation of the series. There have been press reports in the past year that a Merlin film was in development and the end of the television series may allow producers to pursue such a project more fully.

Merlin launched on BBC One in 2008 and proved a hit with viewers as it provided a new spin on the Arthurian/Camelot legends. The fantasy drama re-imagined the myths with Merlin (Colin Morgan) as a young servant to the somewhat bratty Prince Arthur (Bradley James) while King Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head) ruled the kingdom of Camelot with an iron rod – outlawing magic and burning witches, warlocks and druids.  The BBC has announced that Merlin will draw to a close at Christmas with a “not to be missed” two-part story.

“From the beginning this was always going to be a five year journey that we embarked on and I think the show has run its natural course. The show has grown and grown each year and now we’ve arrived at its strongest point and we’ve achieved what we set out to do… I know this is the end, and I know this is goodbye, but thank you for being there on the journey with us because it has been a lot of fun!”  – Colin Morgan, who plays Merlin

“This is the series where the storylines truly reach their apex. We always felt the story of the legend was best told across five series, leading to a spectacular finale that draws on the best known elements of this much-loved story and brings to a conclusion the battle for Camelot. We’d like to thank the amazing cast and crew for their professionalism and dedication, the BBC, FME and all of our partners globally for their incredible support and encouragement across the last five series.  But chiefly, our thanks go to Merlin’s remarkable and loyal audience around the world for their enthusiasm for the characters and Camelot universe.”  – Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, co creators

As well as Colin Morgan, Bradley James and Anthony Head the drama also stars Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby and Richard Wilson. Over the course of its five years Merlin has attracted an impressive array of guest stars such as Lindsay Duncan, Emilia Fox, Michelle Ryan, Sarah Parish, James Fox, Ben Daniels, Nathanial Parker, Eve Myles, Charles Dance, Josette Simon, Tom Ellis and Mackenzie Cook.

The end of Merlin on BBC One will leave Doctor Who as the last remaining family drama on Saturday evenings. The successful revival of Doctor Who in 2005 proved there was still a market for family drama on Saturdays and the BBC ordered Merlin and Robin Hood to appeal to that audience as well. Robin Hood was axed after three years when ratings dramatically dropped. ITV also tried to appeal to the family audiences on Saturdays with the flop drama Demons and the more successful Primeval which has run for five seasons with a Canadian spin-off due to launch shortly.

Is the BBC right to bring Merlin to an end after five years? Or are there plenty more stories left to tell? Post your comments below.

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