Rupert plays the perfect chivalrous knight Sir Leon in Merlin.
We first see Leon during a jousting tournament, in which he is too noble to take advantage of Arthur’s sudden vulnerability, and too careful of Arthur’s wellbeing. Arthur wasn’t impressed, but we were. And all that glorious hair made an immediate impact, too!
We slowly start to see more and more of Leon, though much of the time he’s simply running errands and passing messages. Rupert is such a great guy to have around that the main cast were campaigning for Leon to become a recurring character long before the fans got on board! It must have become obvious that he was being underutilised, too, and was certainly capable of carrying a more involved role.
As the story winds on through the seasons and Arthur transforms from prat prince to wise king, Leon becomes an essential part of Arthur’s inner circle, and a ‘founding member’ of the Round Table. Leon is the quintessential knight, and as Rupert says, he would have been really annoyed if he didn’t win ‘Knight of the Year’ each and every year.
Leon is serious, practical, articulate and dependable – which contrasts nicely with Lancelot’s slightly otherworldly nobility, Gwaine’s mischief and iconoclasm, Percival’s pure simplicity, and Elyan’s bad-boy edginess. The young king Arthur relies on Leon for advice, along with Gaius and Guinevere.
We never find out much about Leon’s background. It’s clear from the start that he’s well-born, otherwise he’d never have become a knight during Uther’s reign. We later learn that Gwen’s mother worked as a servant for Leon’s family, and that Leon and Gwen were childhood friends who grew up together. But the rest is left to our imagination.
Eventually, he is one of only two ‘inner circle’ knights who survive to the last scenes of the fifth season, and so his future is left to our imagination as well. But if there’s one thing that’s certain, Camelot was, is and always will be a better place for having Sir Leon in it. ♥
In summary, he appeared as follows:
- Seven episodes of season two (2009), starting with The Once and Future Queen (26 September 2009)
- Six episodes of season three (2010)
- All thirteen episodes of season four (2011)
- All thirteen episodes of season five (2012)
- The lovely photo is an official publicity shot, used with great respect but without permission. I assume it was taken by Nick Briggs. All rights remain with the photographer, BBC One and Shine.