Merlin to be axed by the BBC and Dan Stevens is leaving Downton Abbey and his role as Matthew Crawley!

by Lynn Connolly

There’s sad news today for fans of the BBC’s Merlin and ITV’s Downton Abbey as it’s been revealed that Merlin is being axed, having “run its course,” and that Dan Stevens – who plays Matthew Crawley – is leaving Downton Abbey.

More about Dan’s decision to leave Downton in a moment, but first, of the decision to end the hugely popular Merlin, actor Colin Morgan, who plays Merlin, told TV Biz, “I think the show has run its natural course.”

He added, “It has grown and grown each year and now we’ve arrived at its strongest point and we’ve achieved what we set out to do.”

The BBC added that the series will come to a “natural and dramatic end” with a two-part finale at Christmas.

The paper adds, “Merlin has been a staple of BBC1’s Saturday schedule since launching four years ago and at the weekend its audience peaked at 7.6million viewers.”

Former One Foot In The Grave star Richard Wilson, who plays Gaius, added, “I’m extremely sad Merlin has come to an end.

“Speaking as Gaius, I feel I have mentored the young wizard as far as I can.

“He is much smarter and greater than me now and I am simply exhausted.”

BBC1 executive Danny Cohen said, “I admire the creators’ decision to end Merlin on a high but also know that we will miss it in the BBC1 schedule.

“We have ambitious plans for new drama in the Saturday evening slot in 2013.”

Back now to Dan Stevens’ decision to leave Downton Abbey and his role as newlywed Matthew Crawley…

And though it hasn’t been revealed if he’ll be killed off (or not) in series four – which will go into production early next year and air in the autumn – it has been suggested that he will feature in the first episode of the new series, then exit.

A show insider told the Express, “Dan Stevens isn’t returning to the series. He will probably do the first episode of the fourth series, but that will be it.”

Yikes! I’m going to miss him as Matthew but I have to say, I kind of hope that the writers do kill him off rather than just have him leave Downton, because that might mean that Michelle Dockery – who plays Matthew’s wife Lady Mary – has to go too!

Here’s a reminder of the Matthew and Mary love story…

How do you feel about Merlin ending and Dan leaving Downton?

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.


  1. Ellana S on November 26, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Oh no ! Matthew Crawley is my fave male character in Downton… sob !

    Will miss Merlin too, I don’t watch it avidly as it is on usually when I am doing the kid’s tea, but when I do watch I enjoy !

  2. scarlet h on November 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

    absolutely devastated that Merlin will no longer be on our screens, I don’t watch much TV but this Saturday evening slot is the highlight of my working week!

  3. Tom on November 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Dan Stevens is leaving DA for Holywood, I hear. Dan, dont. One, youre not pretty enough. Two, youre not talented enough. Stick with DA.

  4. Susan Peach on November 26, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Why is it that when a really good drama happens to be doing really well, it is axed? When Robin Hood was axed in 2009, the BBC said it was because Robin had died, and the programme had come to its natural end. It seems now the same is happening to Merlin, I am absolutely shocked that a programme bringing in viewers of 6.9 million weekly, and then peaking at 7.6 million on saturday last, has somehow not made it through to another series. It didn’t even get through to win any awards, yet all these people ar watching, it is very popular, so we are to understand that no one votes either. It feels almost as though our viewing is being decided for us!

  5. Chelsea25 on November 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I can’t believe they have cancelled Merlin! It was getting really good.. One of the best series with a brilliant story line. How are they going to end it naturally? It makes no sense there is still a lot left of the story! I’m going to miss staying in on a Saturday with my mum and dad watching it.. Dreading telling my mum she will not take it well! I think there making a huge mistake! Just look at the ratings! What a stupid thing to do!

  6. Joanne McCarthy on November 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    OH MY GOD, why do You have to leave Downton Abbey Dan Stevens you where a great actor and I absolutely loved watching you every single time when you where in it. To me you where really handsome an looked forward every Sunday at 9pm to watching you in it, it really made my night and would go to bed knowing I had seen you in it.
    Also am gutted that Merlin is being axed after watching it every Saturday night from the beginning, it is a really good part that Colin Morgan plays and always enjoy the magic he comes up with to get Morgana back as she is a sly witch. The rest of the cast are great too and absolutely find it really enjoying to watch, and see colin who plays Merlin save Arthurs life. It will not be the same when it has gone as I LOVE programmes with magic and secrets that always happen, and Arthur is quite nice looking to and would like to see him become king and make the place around a better kingdom with all the cast knowing he has Merlin to rescue him when in any danger and save peoples lives when sick.

  7. veronica wellman on November 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Merlim is my favourite programme and I have been waiting for them to move the story on to when Arthur finds out that Merlin is there to protect him and has magic. It could be a different phase of the legend. My family and I are very sad

  8. mol on November 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    that is me finished with downton now that dan stevens is leaving.Dan has let his fans down.

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