John Hurt breathes fire into 'Merlin'

Will provide voice of Great Dragon

LONDON -- John Hurt has joined the cast of "Merlin," Shine Television's live-action fantasy drama for the BBC.

Hurt will provide the voice of the CG-animated Great Dragon in a cast that already includes "Heroes" alum Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot and "Bionic Woman" star Michelle Ryan as the wicked sorceress Nimueh. NBC bought the show sight unseen for the U.S.

Other cast members of the series, which details the life of Arthur long before he becomes king, include Richard Wilson as Gaius, Anthony Head as King Uther Pendragon, Colin Morgan as the young wizard Merlin and Bradley James as the arrogant, brave Prince Arthur.

FremantleMedia Enterprises holds the exclusive distribution, licensing and home entertainment rights (excluding the U.K.) to the series of 13 one-hour episodes.

"Merlin" will premiere on BBC flagship channel BBC 1 in September and then on NBC in midseason. The series also is set to air on CTV in Canada.

The effects are being created by the Mill, with filming taking place in Wales, France and England.