Monday, 15 June 2009


It will be absolutely not a surprise for the readers of this blog: Primeval, co-produced by Impossible Pictures and ProSieben, has been officially axed by ITV (1) after weeks of speculation over the future of the show during the run of the third series, and plans to share the cost of Primeval with another broadcaster (2).

According to The Guardian, Impossible Pictures has presented to ITV a proposal that could have seen the fourth series of the Saturday evening drama premiere on a digital channel before airing on ITV1 later. It was understood that the Sci-Fi channel was being eyed as a potential home for the show. Regarding the price tag of the show and the fact that many British fans resented the advanced run of the third series in Spain and Germany, ITV's decision is widely justified. Recently, on the excellent blog of screenwriter, producer and author Lee Goldberg, your humble servant pointed out this situation as a "collateral damage" when you must find a foreign partner ( And ITV must face the same difficulties with the remake of The Prisoner - as the miniseries will be shown first on US cable channel AMC.

Relatively honest ratings of the third series (thanks to the combo with other programmes of the evening) could not ease the reality that ITV has been looking to cut costs on a range of its shows following the slashing of its programme budget because of declining advertising revenues. Add to this the perspective to see one of its most expensive programmes "cremated" by a first-run on another English-speaking channel. Even a movie project by Warner Brothers and a possible US spin-off series could not save Primeval.

And above all, provided it matters compared to the notions of "franchise" or "balance sheet", the third series kissed the shark with the enthusiasm of Captain Jack Harkness on a friday evening. The weaknesses of series 3 killed all the interest for a once entertaining, clever and spectacular show: the departures of lead Douglas Henshall (Nick Cutter) - replaced by Jason Flemyng as Danny Quinn, and of Lucy Brown (Jenny Lewis) in a terrible transition, the non-resolution of essential plot elements developed through the first two series, the chracter played by Laila Rouass, dumb stories (the megalo croc, the knight, etc...), the death of Helen Cutter, the finale and the cliffhanger.

Why O why make the only valuable challenger to the Doctor Who franchise a digital equivalent of Animals do the funniest things with Ben Miller as Stephen Mulhern? Cost reduction policy? The cemeteries of the History of Television are full of ruined cult shows, Primeval now rejoins Space: 1999 (1975-1977) or Bugs (1995). By the way, I've always thought that the main problem of Bugs - produced by Carnival Films (Poirot) - was that it was a BBC show with the spirit of an ITV programme. Which is ironic as the distributor of Primeval is BBC Worldwide.

Too bad for Primeval. Now Series five of Doctor Who has to be bloody good, believe me.


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