Mention ‘drama’ and the ‘BBC’ in the same sentence, and pound to a penny it’s not long before Doctor Who and Sherlock crop up in the conversation. Sure, like the world and his wife, I can’t wait for the 50th anniversary Doctor Who and I’m counting the days until I’m back in the company of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. But let’s not spend too long looking the other way and miss Auntie’s new fantasy adventure, Atlantis.
It will fill the gaping hole in the Saturday night schedules once occupied by Merlin. Now I’ll be honest – as a lover of the Arthurian legend, Merlin really, REALLY got on my nerves. I couldn’t get on with it at all. I found it two-dimensional, hated how it played fast and loose with the story and gave it as wide a berth as possible (sorry chaps, but there you go. I loathed Robin Hood, for the same reasons). So, you can imagine how I felt when I heard Atlantis was being brought to the small screen by pretty much the same creative team.
And yet, I’m prepared to give it a whirl – if only to say I tried. For those who haven’t been captivated by the teaser campaign, the show follows Jason (played by ruggedly handsome thesp Jack Donnelly) who, after finding himself washed up on a strange shore, discovers he’s actually in Atlantis. As you do. Before long, he’s up to his perfectly formed pectorals in mythical heroes and ancient legends – but all is not well in this fabled land. Dark deeds are afoot, and guess who finds himself right at the heart of it?
I won’t give away any specific plot details, but I can say for certain that the cast looks belting. Mark Addy, Juliet Stevenson, Sarah Parish and Alexander Siddig are among the bigger names, but chances are, the man of the moment will be Donnelly, whose surely will be set for stardom after playing Jason.
Speaking to the BBC about working on the show, he said: “The best thing is that I get to ride a horse and I have my own sword! In my last job I was working for a promotions agency handing out leaflets on the street and I didn’t have a sword or a horse so this is way better!
“As an actor, you audition all the time and you often have just a couple of days on a project, so to have an opportunity to act every day is just brilliant and it doesn’t feel like work because we laugh so much on set and have so much fun. It’s really so much better than I imagined it would be and I thought it would be pretty great to begin with…”
I have high hopes for Atlantis – it looks pretty and there seems to be a fair helping of wit among the dialogue. My only wish is that it does stand up to longer scrutiny (at least from me!), the way Merlin and Robin Hood simply couldn’t.
Atlantis starts on Saturday at 8.25pm on BBC ONE.
Contributed by Scheenagh Harrington