Merlin on NBC

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LONDON -- John Hurt, Santiago Cabrera and Michelle Ryan have joined the cast of BBC1 fantasy drama "Merlin," which will air on NBC.

Hurt will voice the Great Dragon, while Cabrera ("Heroes") will play Lancelot.

British actress Ryan, last seen in NBC's remake of "Bionic Woman," will play the sorceress Nimueh.

Created and produced by Elisabeth Murdoch's growing U.K. shingle Shine Television, "Merlin" will premiere in the U.K. in September on BBC1, before airing on NBC this winter in a Sunday evening slot.

NBC picked up the British drama from distributor FremantleMedia Enterprises this year in an unprecedented deal for a U.S. broadcast network. Fremantle has also pre-sold the series to CTV in Canada.

Other well-known British thesps already confirmed for the 13-part skein include Anthony Head ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), who will play King Uther Pendragon, and Richard Wilson ("One Foot in the Grave"), who plays Gaius, the court physician who takes Merlin under his wing.

Newcomer Colin Morgan ("Doctor Who") will play the young Merlin, while Bradley James ("Lewis") will play Arthur. Rising star Angel Coulby ("Magicians") has been cast as Guinevere and Katie McGrath ("The Tudors") will play Morgana.

Filming is under way in Wales, France and England, with CGI being handled by London-based visual effects firm the Mill ("Gladiator").

That's 2 fantasy shows bought by American networks. I guess they moved from sci-fi to fantasy this year.

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