I'm very happy to inform you that the BBC confirmed the broadcast details for the first episode of Merlin series four. The first episode is planned for October 1, 2011 from 19:50 - 20:35 (GMT) on BBC One followed by the second broadcast on October 8, 2011 from 20:15 (GMT).

The BBC has confirmed that the Merlin fourth series premiere will air on the same night as this year's Doctor Who finale. The premiere is titled 'The Darkest Hour'.

Stars confirmed for future episodes of Merlin so far include Phil Davis, Gemma Jones, James Callis and Lindsay Duncan.

For those who'd like to read a short synopsis, please click on the "Read more" link. For those who prefer to let themselves be taken by surprise completely - it's spoilery when read!

Episode 1: The Darkest Hour I

Merlin faces his toughest challenge yet when Morgana's blinkered determination threatens not only Arthur's future, but also the very balance of the world. With her magic stronger than ever, the sorceress summons the mighty Callieach to tear open the veil between the worlds.

Hellish creatures pour forth, killing all who succumb to their touch. With Uther a shadow of his former self, it falls to Arthur and his loyal knights, including Lancelot, to protect the kingdom.

But it will take more than just swords to vanquish their enemy and Merlin is shocked to the core when he discovers the only way to restore the equilibrium requires a sacrifice of unimaginable proportions.

Episode 2: The Darkest Hour II

The kingdom is on the brink of collapse and Morgana poised to strike. As Lancelot races back to Camelot with the dying Merlin, Arthur must continue on his mission to vanquish the Dorocha without them.

Though the Knights know their journey to the Isle of the Blessed is fraught with danger, none could anticipate the sacrifice Arthur intends to make there.

Friendship and loyalty are tested to the limit, but in the end, it's the power of love that changes all their lives for ever.

Episode 3: The Wicked Day

The mighty citadel is buzzing in anticipation of the Prince's birthday celebrations, as the fantasy drama continues. But Arthur's old adversary, Odin, promises to ensure this is one party Camelot will never forget – for among the assembling guests lurks a deadly assassin set to strike.

As the dust settles, Camelot is left devastated. Just how far is Merlin prepared to go to put things right; would he really risk everything and reveal his secret?

Episode 4: Aithusa

The mysterious Julius Borden arrives in Camelot with news of a magical secret that threatens to change the landscape of the kingdom for ever. He has located the final part of the key to the tomb of Ashkanar – an ancient mausoleum which holds a very special treasure: the last remaining dragon's egg.

Merlin is understandably drawn in by Borden's news and promises to help him. But just who is this enigmatic stranger and, more importantly, what does he really want with the egg?

Episode 5: His Father's Son

For the first time since his coronation, Arthur finds out what it's really like to be King, as the magical drama continues.

Arthur faces his first true test as King when he incurs the wrath of the formidable Queen Annis.

With the lives of thousands hanging in the balance, Arthur must find the strength to be his own man and become the leader Camelot so desperately needs.

Episode 6: A Servant of Two Masters

When Merlin falls into Morgana's hands, he becomes a deadly weapon in her fight for supremacy. Using ancient magic, she pits friend against friend and creates the perfect assassin.

An oblivious Arthur is in great danger. Will anyone notice Merlin's unusual behaviour before he does the King some serious harm?

Epsiode 7: The Secret Sharer

Morgana joins forces with enigmatic wizard Alator to uncover a secret that could change the course of destiny, as the magical drama continues. With allies on both sides of the castle walls, can anyone stop her before Merlin's greatest secret is revealed?

Episode 8: Lamia

A mysterious illness draws Merlin to a distant village as the magical drama continues. But it soon becomes clear that there is more at stake than just his well-being as something sinister turns the air sour.

Far from home and with no one to trust, Merlin becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse. No longer sure who is the hunter and who is the hunted, can the young warlock survive long enough to uncover the truth?

Episode 9: Lancelot Du Lac

When Sir Lancelot returns from the dead, old feelings reignite, as the drama continues. Gwen must fight temptation before she commits an unspeakable act of betrayal; one that would destroy the legacy of Camelot forever.With heads and hearts thrown into turmoil, Merlin becomes suspicious. Can a man really defy death, or is there something more sinister at play?

Episode 10: A Herald of the New Age

The Camelot Knights stumble across an eerie shrine deep in the forest, its chilling atmosphere betraying a dark history best left undisturbed. But when Elyan ignores Merlin's warning, his actions spark a chain of events more frightening than anyone could possibly have imagined... Can a grievous wrong be put right? Or will past demons change the future forever?

Episode 11: The Hunter's Heart

Morgana finds a powerful ally in the Southron warlord Helios, as the drama continues. Together they hatch the perfect plan to force Camelot to its knees... With the Kingdom - and Arthur - preoccupied by the arrival of the beautiful Princess Mithian, it falls to an absent friend to raise the alarm. But with past wounds still raw, can love really conquer all when Guinevere returns? Or is a deadly arrow destined to fly straight into the heart of Camelot?

Episode 12: The Sword in The Stone I

With Morgana at the head of a vast Southron army, a deadly net is closing in around Camelot, as the drama continues. When the sorceress strikes, the ferocity of her attack forces everyone to run for their lives – even Arthur. But Morgana won't let him escape that easily. And so begins a chilling hunt. Can Merlin save the King from Morgana's clutches? Or has Arthur's luck finally run out?

 

Episode 13: The Sword in The Stone II

Morgana and Helios have successfully captured Camelot, and Merlin and Arthur are outlaws on the run, in the last episode in this series of Merlin. Trapped in Ealdor with a ruthless army closing in, their situation becomes desperate. Arthur must take control before Camelot is lost forever... But faced with Agravaine's betrayal and the strength of Morgana's force, the young King has lost his conviction. Only Merlin can restore his faith, and only an extraordinary act can prove to the King that he was born to rule. Will the young warlock convince Arthur before his dreams of Albion fall to pieces?

 

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