Bradley James and Colin Morgan

After a successful summer run on Syfy, Merlin will return for a third season, the networks tells TV Guide Magazine exclusively. The next 13 episodes of the series, based on the mythical legends of Camelot, are expected in early 2011, shortly after premiering in the U.K. on the BBC.

Merlin's first season aired in the U.S. on NBC last summer with mediocre ratings, by broadcast standards. The series moved to Syfy for Season 2 this summer, drawing a healthy 1.72 million viewers (an 81 percent increase for the network in the Fridays-at-10pm timeslot) and building a cult following, as evidenced by a well-received panel at last month's Comic-Con.

"We are thrilled that Syfy will be broadcasting the third series of Merlin," series creator/executive producer Johnny Capps says. "The upcoming season will add an exciting new twist to Merlin's ongoing struggle to protect Prince Arthur, as well as thrilling audiences with bigger and bolder action sequences, stunning CGI monsters, mysterious villains and comic fun for all the family."

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