First episode date 25 February 2011
Final episode date 10 June 2011
|Genre Historical drama
Sword and Sorcery|
Created by Chris Chibnall Michael Hirst
Developed by Chris Chibnall Michael Hirst
Starring Joseph Fiennes Jamie Campbell Bower Tamsin Egerton Claire Forlani Peter Mooney Clive Standen Philip Winchester Eva Green Chipo Chung Sinéad Cusack
Composer(s) Mychael Danna Jeff Danna
Country of origin Ireland Canada United Kingdom United States
Networks Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Starz, RTL Television, Channel 4, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, VIER, Nine Network
Cast Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower, Tamsin Egerton, Joseph Fiennes, Claire Forlani
Camelot season 1 official trailer
Camelot is a 2011 historical-fantasy-drama television series which premiered on 1 April 2011. It was co-produced by the Starz cable network and GK-TV which began production during the summer of 2010. The series, based on the Arthurian legend, was produced by Graham King, Morgan O'Sullivan and Michael Hirst.
- Camelot season 1 official trailer
- Main cast
A special preview showing of the pilot episode "Homecoming" was aired on Starz Friday night, 25 February 2011. On 30 June 2011 Starz announced it was not going to order new seasons of Camelot, citing significant production challenges, predominantly scheduling conflicts with some members of the cast, including Joseph Fiennes, Jamie Campbell Bower and Eva Green.
It is the late 5th century and Britain has been free of Roman rule for several decades. With King Uther's sudden death chaos threatens to engulf Britain. The sorcerer Merlin has visions of a dark future and installs the young and impetuous Arthur, Uther's unknown son and heir who has been raised as a commoner, as the new king. Merlin and Arthur install themselves in Castle Camelot with their allies, which include Arthur's biological mother Igraine, his foster brother Kay and loyal warriors Leontes, Gawain, Ulfius and Brastias. From Camelot, Arthur tries to build a new and better Britain, where people can live in peace.
Meanwhile, Arthur's cold and ambitious half-sister Morgan plots to take the crown from him. Banished by her father, King Uther, who was responsible for her mother's murder to put Arthur's mother on the throne, Morgan is responsible for Uther's death and wants to rule as his successor. Aided by her loyal maid Vivien and the devious nun Sybil, Morgan takes up residence in Uther's old castle, Castle Pendragon, from where she schemes against Arthur.
In October 2010, Camelot was the first series to get the green light from Starz since Chris Albrecht took over as President and CEO of the company. With the announcement of plans for the series, Albrecht said that "The story of Arthur isn't history, it's mythology, and Camelot isn't a place but an idea of hope that has resonated at different times throughout history." Launched in January 2010, GK-TV is the television division of GK Films, headed by Oscar-winning producer Graham King and Tim Headington. King called the series "a perfect choice as GK-TV's maiden project," given the company's mandate for "producing compelling cinematic quality programming for television." The series idea is attributed to the U.K.'s Ecosse Films, and an "early incarnation" was set up at Showtime in 2008, with that network announcing plans for the series in conjunction with BBC.
The cast assembled at Ardmore Studios in Ireland in June–July 2010 to begin "principal photography" for the series, which was created as an Irish-Canadian coproduction. After the Ireland filming, post-production and visual effects took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The cost was estimated at around $7 million per episode. Starz retained U.S. rights, including digital and home entertainment distribution, Take 5 Productions owned distribution rights in Canada, and GK-TV for the rest of the world.
Chris Chibnall, known for television series including Life on Mars and Torchwood, was showrunner and head writer for the show, which was engineered by Executive Producers Morgan O'Sullivan of Octagon in Ireland and John Weber of Take 5 Productions in Canada. Other executive producers included Academy Award-winner Graham King, Timothy Headington of GK Films, Craig Cegielski of GK-TV, James Flynn of Octagon, Douglas Rae of UK's Ecosse Films, Fred Fuchs, Michael Hirst and Anne Thomopoulos. Chibnall was no newcomer to the legend of Camelot, having previously been in charge of developing a series about Merlin in 2005 for BBC. However, despite several scripts being written, BBC Head of Drama Jane Tranter eventually decided not to green-light the project, although it later emerged, without Chibnall's involvement, as Merlin (2008–2012). Executive producer Morgan O'Sullivan also had experience with the story through his involvement with the 2004 film King Arthur.
Publicity releases noted the series would consist of ten episodes that would "redefine the classic medieval tale of King Arthur." Advance descriptions of the series described it as having "sex, sword-fighting, magic, comedy". According to a tongue-in-cheek comment by star Joseph Fiennes, it should be watched for another reason: "Because it's not a musical."
Head writer Chris Chibnall stated that every era needs its own version of the story of Camelot and that this version would include strong currents of politics and romance in an adult drama: "The amazing thing about Camelot is you can talk about political pursuits and it's all about the romance. It's all about the passion. It's all about great ideals compromised by falling in love with the wrong person." Chibnall also stated that the story had a special relevance for today's world because it dealt with the promise of world leaders to create a better world, and then trying to carry through on their promises.
The series used well-known stories and legends about King Arthur, including Le Morte d'Arthur "but those only provided a starting point". The goal of the producers was to create episodes that "weave historical authenticity into a telling of the Arthur legends that is relatable to contemporary audiences". The relationship between Merlin (Fiennes) and Arthur (Campbell Bower) was central to the show. Fiennes has joked that he thinks "of Merlin as a sort of cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Donald Rumsfeld," referring to Kenobi's mentoring qualities and Rumsfeld's political agendas. Fiennes described Merlin as a "...sort of tutor. He's a father figure. He's a brutal headmaster. He's got to give this boy all of the tools to be king in a ruthless world, and he has to do it in a very short space of time. So there's a lot of 'cruel to be kind.'"
While the first season was limited to ten episodes, the producers indicated that if the response to the show were strong, they had plans for "several additional seasons". It was announced on 30 June 2011, that Camelot would not be returning for a second season and US network Starz had ruled out production for 2011.
Starz invested in a number of initiatives to promote the series, including the advance airing of the first episode (scheduled for normal broadcast on 1 April 2011) on 25 February 2011, following the series finale of that network's successful series, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. That episode, "Homecoming", was subsequently posted on the special series website created by Starz, where it could be streamed for home viewing.
In addition to a meeting with film critics to talk about the show, individual interviews with the writer and a number of cast members have been conducted, a Facebook page has been created, and many of the stars have been blogging and tweeting about the show's progress during and after the filming. Additionally, special short video trailers and behind-the-scenes video teasers were also posted online. The upcoming series was also advertised online in a "Starz Originals" video, promoting both current and future original series.
Starz also released a poster showing Arthur and Morgan and a series of promotional photos. In addition to the official promotions, fans created a website to include news and images of the upcoming series.
Advance publicity for the series was positive, as evidenced by the comments of Maureen Ryan, who writes the "Stay Tuned" column for TVSquad.com. Other critics were also comparing the series to the upcoming HBO series, Game of Thrones. Critic James Hibberd refers to both shows as "swords 'n' sorcery epics", with a "quest for the kingship as the central storyline" – but adds the comment that there is no reason to choose one over the other, implying that viewers might be able to enjoy both. Hibberd adds the one-word description, "fleshy", to describe the new Starz show. One website used the phrase, "Starz makes Camelot sexy again." A critic for the Daily Inquirer wrote, "I watched the sneak preview and it looks like Starz has another hit on their hands", and a New York Times article has called the series "An Arthur worthy of the modern ages." On the KFOG morning show Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter's Chief Television Critic, called Camelot "a lightweight version of Game of Thrones" and "almost more like a guilty pleasure".
Camelot received a score of 58 on Metacritic. Negative reviews included Time magazine saying, "Even on the level of it's-just-entertainment, Camelot is exceedingly silly", and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying, "it's a lot less graphic than Starz's ultra-sexy, ultra-violent Spartacus franchise. Dramatically, Camelot also pales in comparison. It's dull and talky and its first three episodes offer few surprises in storytelling."