“GOBLIN’S GOLD” Airs Friday, January 21 at 10:00 PM on Syfy
Hilarity ensues when Merlin accidentally lets loose a mischievous creature in the castle on an all-new episode of MERLIN premiering tonight – Friday, January 21 – at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.
Entitled “Goblin’s Gold,” the episode finds a goblin taking possession of Merlin’s stately mentor Gaius, leading the once wise physician to develop a taste for gold, ale and magical jokes. The result is a suddenly bald King Uther, a scourge of flatulence sweeping the royal household, and Prince Arthur receiving a pair of donkey ears and a voice to match. Merlin must work banish the goblin back to where he came from before any real damage is done. The voice of the goblin is provided by Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter films).
For his performance as the donkey-afflicted Arthur, actor Bradley James invested some significant time researching his four-legged counterpart – and came away with a fairly realistic donkey bray to utilize in his role.
“I have YouTube to thank for that – you’d be amazed how many clips of donkeys braying you can find on there,” James admitted. “I sat there on YouTube watching and listening, and practiced while comparing myself to the computer screen. I’m sure I would’ve looked a bit crazy.”
James went so far into character as to refuse to speak – in human words – on or off set while filming his donkey-specific scenes.
“It was ridiculous enough as it was (in the performance), but I just wanted to keep that sound in my head, get it done, and then I would speak to people,” James adds. “I wanted to keep focused as I didn’t have too much experience with donkey work. So I basically just sort of tried to stay away from everybody until we were done shooting the scene.”
James’ method approach caused great amusement for his co-stars. Still, Angel Coulby, who as her character Gwen appears in a key scene with the donkey-fied version of Arthur, said everyone was supportive of James’ dedication and kept a straight face – at least while in his presence.
“It was kind of tricky because Bradley was taking it very seriously, so it would’ve been wrong to laugh at him,” Coulby recalls. “He was working so hard practicing the donkey sounds so he could do it authentically, and he chose to not talk so he could stay in that character. So every once in a while I had to go off on my own, have a giggle, then come back.”