Just as one mysterious character departs, another enters as MERLIN welcomes its newest addition – Agravaine, chief adviser to the King. Played by acclaimed actor Nathaniel Parker, the character provides yet another potential snake in Camelot’s grass for Arthur and Merlin as they fend off Morgana’s attack in the epic conclusion of the season-opening, two-part episode entitled “The Darkest Hour, Part 2.” The episode premieres this Friday, January 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.
The magic of MERLIN continues to cast a spell over audiences: Last Friday’s fourth-season premiere of MERLIN attracted the biggest-ever first-episode audience in its Syfy history, with viewership 29% higher for Season 4 than Season 3. Episodes from all three previous seasons are available on iTunes, and Season 3 will be released January 17 on DVD.
In “The Darkest Hour, Part 2” the kingdom of Camelot is on the brink of collapse as Lancelot (Santiago Cabrera) races back to Camelot with the dying Merlin, the Dorocha continue their siege on the kingdom, Arthur considers an unthinkable sacrifice … and Morgana waits to strike.
In light of Uther’s dwindling power, a new leader has arrived in Camelot – Agravaine, uncle to Prince Arthur. While positioning himself as mentor and guide to Arthur as he readies for the crown, the devious Agravaine’s allegiances actually lie with Morgana. As the new patriarchal figure in the kingdom, Agravaine figures intricately in Morgana’s plan to return to Camelot and assume the throne.
This isn’t the first man of mystery played by Parker, who is best known in the United States for his roles in films like Stardust and The Haunted Mansion. Throughout the UK and much of the rest of the world, Parker is highly regarded for his title role in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
Parker, an avid MERLIN fan even before being cast (he watches regularly with his daughters), admits that he does relish playing the villain.
“Agravaine is pretty much a baddy – you know that within the first 20 minutes of the first episode – and yes, I do enjoy playing baddies,” Parker says. “We have changed the mythology a bit, but the bottom line is that Agravaine has come to help advise Arthur, and that isn’t going to be a good thing for him. I’m playing a fairly dark, mysterious character behind Arthur’s back, and it’s both a good part to play, and good fun playing it.”
Though the MERLIN cast has melded into a cohesive, tight-knit unit over its three seasons, Parker has quickly assimilated himself into the fabric of the show, and the hearts of his fellow actors
“I love Nat – he’s a brilliant and lovely to work with,” says Angel Coulby (Gwen). “Right away, he said, ‘You must tell me if I’m doing something wrong – I’m not as stern as I look.’ And he’s really not. I thought he was going to be very serious, very method, but he’s a lot sillier on set than I could’ve imagined, and he definitely blended into the MERLIN atmosphere quickly and easily.”
“When I think of Nat,” says Katie McGrath (Morgana), “I think of laughing – during the entire season, he never stopped trying to make everyone laugh. Even on the longest days, when everyone was cold or tired. He was always there with a smile and a joke, bless him.”
“Guest artists have always commented that they’ve been so easily and readily been accepted on MERLIN, but I think that’s because it’s the kind of show that they can easily be assimilated,” explains Anthony Head (Uther). “The writing is strong, and the series has such a good rhythm – people just don’t feel under pressure. Plus, it’s always fun for us to get to play with someone new. And Nat definitely fits with this group.”
MERLIN continues its fourth season this Friday, Jan. 13 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on Syfy. Previous seasons are available on DVD or on iTunes. Be sure to follow the latest news on MERLIN at the Official Merlin page on Facebook.