It was a drama that seemed dead in the water, leaving its cast stranded up a tree in prehistory with no chance of getting home. Fans gnashed their teeth at the injustice of it all, but all ITV could do was pat its pockets for money, shrug and say sorry.
But yesterday was a happy day for fans of Primeval (aka Dinosaur Chasey-Chase) as the news broke that the adventure drama will return in 2011 for 13 new episodes, split over two series, after a ground-breaking deal was brokered with cable channel Watch to come onboard as a co-producer of the series.
ITV will premiere a block of new episodes of the series early in 2011, with Watch getting second dibs on this run. Later in the year, Watch will first run the remaining new episodes, which ITV will then broadcast at a later date.
And the fans heaved a sigh of relief and declared it good.
As it stands, it seems that ITV will be laying out for less of a stake, with BBC Worldwide stumping up more of a share for a show it already had an interest in as international distributor, along with UKTV and BBC America.
One can’t help but admire the chutzpah of this co-production deal. It’s a logical solution in the current economic climate to keep drama series with wide appeal like Primeval on the air, spreading the financial stake across many producers. It’s also a deal that embraces our current broadcasting culture, where we still have major terrestrial broadcasters co-existing with many smaller cable channels, mainly dealing in repurposed programming.
This will undoubtedly give Watch a major boost in terms of ratings and share, and if it works, we could see more deals of this nature cropping up over the next few years. If it keeps major drama series like Primeval on the screen, that can only be a good thing.
At the end of the day, Primeval is a good show that would have gone before its time had this deal not come along. It’s nice to get a happy ending for a change.
It’s expected that cast members Jason Flemyng, Hannah Spearritt and Andrew Lee Potts will return for the new episodes. The mischievous side of me thinks that the currently unresolved cliffhanger to the last series should remain just that - unresolved.
“What happened in the past, stays in the past.”