What do we know about the BBC’s Atlantis?

Feature Louisa Mellor 12 Feb 2013 - 09:26

The BBC is replacing Merlin in the schedules with Greek myth family adventure show, Atlantis, written by Misfits’ Howard Overman…

Picture the scene: it’s Saturday teatime at the end of September, the leaves are turning, there’s a wisp of bonfire smoke in the chill air and the shops are already stocked with Christmas decorations. Refreshments in hand, you wedge yourself onto the sofa next to your family/significant other/Japanese love pillow, and switch on BBC One. But there’s a problem: no Merlin.

No Merlin? No matter. The BBC has some brand new family teatime viewing in store for you (brand new, yet very, very old) in the form of historical fantasy, Atlantis. Taking over from the Arthurian legend’s time slot will be a new thirteen-part series which will delve even further back into the annals of myth to entertain us on those crisp autumn evenings.

How far back? Ancient Greece. Atlantis is shaping up to be a depository of Greek legend patted into shape for family viewing. So that’ll be less focus on the baby-eating and swan-rape then, and more wholesome derring-do, we'd have imagined. 

The new series will be set in the titular lost city, a “strange, compelling realm” peopled by “snake-haired goddesses and palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants”. The thirteen episodes will follow the Merlin and Doctor Who pattern, each being forty-five minutes in length.

Our hero goes by the name of Jason (though whether this is pre or mid-Argo, or indeed, if he’s even the same fleece-seeking sailor is yet to be confirmed). His arrival in Atlantis kick-starts “an amazing adventure”, “bringing into life the vast store of Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation” in the action-packed series.

That’s what the press release tells us at any rate. What it doesn’t tell us is which names have been brought aboard in the cast (though with filming due to start in April, no doubt that news is on its way).

If the Merlin casting format is repeated - and seeing as Atlantis comes from Merlin co-creators Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps we don’t see why it won’t be - then we can expect a relative newcomer in the lead, shored up by a few old UK hands of the Richard Wilson/Tony Head/John Hurt calibre. It would seem a waste of that wonderful Hurt voice not to stage it behind a CGI Minotaur or Cyclops at least once…

There’ll be a romantic plot we suspect, though will it be a version of sorceress Medea that Jason is romantically entangled with, or another Greek love interest? Again, we’ll have to wait and see. 

One thing we are certain of is that the scripts come courtesy of former Merlin writer and Misfits creator Howard Overman. Though his Dirk Gently wasn’t renewed by the BBC, Overman’s still being kept busy by the corporation with this new flagship production, executive produced by BBC Wales’ Bethan Jones (Sherlock, Wizards Vs. Aliens). With Overman on board, some laughs are guaranteed amongst the beast-battling.

We’ll have to wait until Atlantis begins filming in Wales and Morocco (coincidentally, the same country Game of Thrones’ Wolf Unit uses as the back-drop to Dany’s adventures across the Narrow Sea), to get a first glimpse of the new show. As soon as we do, of course, you’ll be the first to know.

Atlantis is due to start filming in April, and will be on our screens in Merlin’s traditional slot this autumn.

BBC

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