All posts by Julie

MCM Comic Con, Birmingham (2019)

BBC Merlin was well represented at the MCM Comic Con, held in Birmingham on 23-24 March 2019. Guests included Asa Butterfield (young Mordred), Tom Hopper (Percival), Alex Vlahos (older Mordred) and our own Rupert Young.

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the con (having been exiled to the Antipodes) but my mate Shell did, along with her lovely family. They asked Rupert ♥ for an autograph for me, which was awesome! Thanks to my friends, I was definitely there in spirit.

Shell blogged about the day on her site The Copper River. This includes photos, and a link to the official live stream so that we can all enjoy the panel held on Saturday.

Thank you again, Shell!

Some things never change…

“So today….this happened. Some things never change. My love for these boys is one of those things.” Tom Hopper

Tom Hopper posted this image of the BBC Merlin peeps to Instagram on 18 January 2019. From left to right: our Rupert (Leon); Bradley James (Arthur); Eoin Macken (Gwaine); Tomiwa Edun (Elyan); and Tom (Percival).

Eoin Macken also posted it to Instagram, in black and white:

“It isn’t often that it happens and we all manage to get together but when we do it’s great, seeing all these beautiful men in the same room, and it’s the exact same as always, never changes. (I couldn’t put a vignette filter on this photo cos @tom.hopperhops & @rupertfyoung are still too tall) #merlin” Eoin Macken

Bradley also posted the image to Instagram, with the message “You can tell this was taken having just eaten as @tom.hopperhops is smiling. Always a joy getting the squad back together”.

It also appeared on Tomiwa’s Instagram account, with the message, “Gettin’ the band back together. Feel the #magic!”

The Bisexual (2018)

Rupert appears as James, a reporter, in the first episode of 6-part comedy-drama The Bisexual.

  • episode: #1.1 (10 October 2018)
  • director: Desiree Akhavan
  • links: IMDB; All 4

Alas, Rupert is only in a couple of scenes in the early parts of the episode. James is interviewing Leila (Desiree Akhavan) and Sadie (Maxine Peake) about their personal and professional relationships with each other.

The interview seems pleasant enough, but once James starts directing the photo shoot, things start getting a bit weird … and come to think of it, perhaps it’s just as well that we don’t see him again!

Leila does accuse him of being “so fucking pretty”, so obviously Rupert was cast for more than one reason!

Kapow! (2018)

Rupert was interviewed by Chris Daniel for Kapow! to mark the tenth anniversary of BBC Merlin.

“I was always interested in the stories of King Arthur and Merlin growing up, but I definitely became more immersed in it after becoming involved with the show,” Young said. …

“Merlin definitely opened doors for me,” Young said. “Being in a worldwide hit show definitely has got me into audition rooms I wouldn’t have got in before and so pretty much all of the jobs I’ve had since the show finished, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to audition for had it not been for the show”. …

“What surprised me most was how well the series was received,” Young concluded. “I always knew I was joining a great show with brilliant people and a fantastic story that people would enjoy, but the sheer volume of people who watched it and connected with it from all over the world was staggering.”

You can read the full interview here.

Chris also interviewed Rupert’s Merlin colleague Alex Vlahos the previous week; you can read that interview here.

Twelfth Night (2018)

Rupert stars as the Duke Orsino in this musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. The adaptation was conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with Taub writing the music and lyrics, and is co-directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis. It is Kwei-Armah’s first offering as Artistic Director at the Young Vic Theatre.

The show runs from 2 October to 17 November 2018 at the Young Vic in London. More details and tickets available at the official website.

You can read an interesting interview with Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) by Kate Berrington, about the accessibility of Shakespeare, in the British Vogue, 14 October 2018.

The banner is from a production photo by Johan Persson, sourced on the Young Vic page on Facebook.

Julie’s Response (with spoilers)

I’ve been lucky enough to see this play twice now, and I’ve loved it. I have to admit to being a bit wary the first time, as the reviews (quoted below) had led me to fear the play was Not Quite Shakespeare, and maybe there wouldn’t be enough Orsino, either. So I was very relieved to find that none of this was so.

The story we’re already familiar with from Shakespeare’s play was certainly compressed in this adaptation, but it was all in there. (And it’s not one of his longer plays, anyway.) The romance and comedy from the original was emphasised in this version, and the cruelty and pain featured less so, but again it was all there. Or maybe I just didn’t miss a lesser emphasis on the aspects of the play I find most challenging and/or problematic…?

Or maybe we feel the pain less because in this production Malvolio retains his self-love, his belief in his own intrinsic greatness, despite being so cruelly dealt with. I’ve seen productions which end things very bitterly, with Sir Toby’s marriage to Maria being foreshadowed as disastrous, Malvolio’s threat of revenge coming from a broken man, Feste alone, Andrew Aguecheek dismissed, and so on. This adaptation does not interpret the outcomes in such ways, and I don’t know that there’s any reason in the original text why it shouldn’t do so. Why not, instead, end with not only the main romances being properly aligned, but also with a joyous song including everyone in a renewed community, and Orsino and Antonio (formerly wartime enemies) shaking hands in a spirit of kindness and reconciliation…?

The themes of this show are love and joy, acceptance of others as they are, and having the courage to be one’s own full self. To find such subject matter in Twelfth Night is no stretch at all.

Much of the spoken dialogue came directly from Shakespeare, and the lyrics were often inspired by the original play as well. I can’t imagine Shakespeare himself being fastidious about such a joyous and accessible experience. He created popular entertainment, too, after all!

As for Rupert … oh, he does play a lover so very well! Orsino isn’t exactly the largest role in the original play. However, this adaptation focuses more on the confused triangle of love between Orsino, Olivia and Cesario/Viola, and so we are blessed with more Rupert than I’d feared! Alas, he is absent for a longish stretch in the latter parts of the play, but he has so much lovely stuff to do in the early parts and in the last scenes, that I can cope with that.

It’s not unexpected to find Rupert called “effortlessly charming” in reviews, including one reviewer this time who wondered why on earth Olivia was resisting him at all! But we know that love doesn’t work like that, or at least not in this play. It was sweet to watch Orsino feeling heart-wrenched by Olivia, but also responding despite himself to Cesario. Right from the start he’s noticing Cesario’s irresistible smile, and soon he’s returning it in kind. (This comes with extra frisson, as Brooks is the most convincing Cesario I’ve seen.) The love triangle is all very genuine, as is the resolution once Sebastian makes a fourth – which compares nicely to the irresponsible antics of Sir Toby’s crew, and to Malvolio’s self-important dramatics.

Everyone does an absolutely terrific job here, though my heart was mostly caught up by Rupert, Gabrielle Brooks (Cesario/Viola) and Natalie Dew (Olivia). There is lots of laughter and lots of energy along the way, and only one scene which left me a bit indifferent. The community chorus were superb, and it was great to see they were diverse in all kinds of ways – including age, with a few older characters. Inclusion is, self-evidently, the way to go!

So, it’s five stars and three cheers from me for the Young Vic and the artistic directions of Kwame Kwei-Armah!

Reviews

Review Round-Up by Fergus Morgan, The Stage, 10 October 2018.

The first show by a new Artistic Director is an important indicator of what’s to come, a chance to establish the tone for the ensuing years with a memorable statement about the kind of theatre they want to make. In assuming responsibility for the Young Vic, a musical version of Twelfth Night may not be the obvious choice for an inaugural show but it’s community-based inclusive staging and strong equality message has Kwame Kwei-Armah setting-out his stall from the start. … This version of Twelfth Night is designed to engage the audience as much as possible beginning with barbecue food and interaction with some of the performers. Robert Jones’ cartoonish set juts-out into the audience guaranteeing everyone a good view, while maximum use is made of the auditorium’s exit points and staircases. They really want you to have a good time and with plenty of comic focus and a rousing love-in finale the feel-good factor is dialled-up to the max. … Gerard Carey may be the best Malvolio you’ve ever seen, utterly embodying Olivia’s taunt that “you are sick of self-love” and given the most astonishing tap routine with a hilarious interpretation of the yellow stockings segment. … Olivia (Natalie Drew) becomes amusingly beguiled by Cesario, an interaction played for comic effect which Drew sells superbly, but Orsino’s devotion is almost entirely serious and Rupert Young is charming as the heartbroken Duke aching with unrequited love. Brooks is equally enchanting as the suffering Viola in disguise, but the emphasis on the humour takes away from some of the pain of Shakespeare’s original, that fine balance between light and dark captured in the songs isn’t reflected in the storytelling as well as it could be. 3.5 stars from Maryam PhilpottThe Reviews Hub, 12 October 2018

Continue reading Twelfth Night (2018)

Merlin’s 10 Year Anniversary

It was the tenth anniversary since Merlin first aired on BBC One, on 20 September 2018. We were all feeling sentimental – including Bradley James, who Tweeted the above shot of cast and crew at the Chateau de Pierrefonds. Rupert is there in his Sir Leon costume. Bradley said:

10 Years since #Merlin aired for the first time. One of the first things my memory jumps to is great times with our crew. Not all pictured but much missed. Many a laugh shared with a team who became family (and they put up with me for 5 years 🏅)

Bradley also shared the following photo of Arthur and some of the Knights, including Leon, on Instagram.

Bradley said:

Just sat round the fire 🔥reminiscing ⚔️🛡🐉🤴🏼. Night all  #10YearsofMerlin

Happy Merlin-versary, all!

update: Rupert was interviewed by Chris Daniel for Kapow! to mark the tenth anniversary.

Twelfth Night, London (2018)

David Holmes Cricket Cup, London (2018)

To quote from various sources: “The David Holmes Cricket Cup began in the summer of 2009 to raise money for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). Since then, each summer, the event has been hosted for David’s family and friends, where the two teams, Gryffindor and Slytherin, have battled it out for the trophy and continued to raise money for the RNOH. It’s a fun, family day out with our famous Cricket Match and our Auction, Raffle, Bar, BBQ, Face Painting and Bouncy Castle providing further entertainment.”

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter) says: “David Holmes [a stuntman] was seriously injured in January 2009 while filming a harnessed aerial sequence for the final installment of the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Davey Holmes was so grateful to the RNOH for their care of him following this injury that he’s been raising funds for them ever since through this annual cricket event.

Bradley James (Arthur in Merlin) has regularly taken the field for  Gryffindor, and has often been joined by our Rupert. I have found team photographs featuring Rupert for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018, with thanks to “A Shot of Brad” Live Journal account, Bradley’s Instagram account, and Google! Which is not to say Rupert didn’t participate in other years. However, few photos from the event are shared online, so there’s no one official source that covers the whole period.

Here are the goodies…

Team Gryffindor in 2011. Rupert is on the far left, looking very knightly.

Continue reading David Holmes Cricket Cup, London (2018)