as the ITV sci-fi series comes to BritBox, we cave deep right into the behind-the-scenes ups and also downs the Primeval through the cast and also creatives.

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“I’ve constantly been i heard by dinosaurs and also monsters, all that sort of stuff, since I to be a boy,” says Douglas Henshall, explaining what attracted him to a particular ITV drama, the very first two collection of i m sorry are easily accessible on BritBox today.

“Primeval was type of a hang-over native childhood, a way of vicariously solve the old childhood memories.”


It was also a collection that virtually always seemed on the brink the extinction.

Following a team of researchers investigating the figure of temporal “anomalies” which delivers both primitive creatures and future predators to the present, Primeval started life in ~ the BBC, under a very different title. “I’d do a dubbed Walking v Dinosaurs for the BBC earlier in 2000,” recalls co-creator Tim Haines, previously a scientific research journalist with a lift in zoology, “and that struck me the all that modern technology used for a drama. Since the BBC want a recognisable item of IP, us made Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost civilization first. I then came up with the idea of Cutter’s Bestiary, and developed a manuscript with another writer, i m sorry didn’t walk anywhere.”


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It’s at this allude that Adrian Hodges – who had recently winner a BAFTA for Charles II: The Power and also Passion – came on board. “One day I went into Laura Mackie’s office, and also she inquiry me what I want to carry out next. She said Bleak house – I’d already done David Copperfield, therefore I said no, i don’t want to do an additional Dickens, thank you. I want to carry out something that’s fun, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d simply watched every one of Buffy, I believed it was a excellent show. I wanted to execute something through the same vibe, the exact same feel come it.”

“She then suggested something referred to as Cutter’s Bestiary – a damaging title, but that’s what it to be at the time,” proceeds Hodges. “I speak to Tim, and also he said, ‘I desire to carry out dinosaurs in the contemporary day’, i m sorry is brilliant. I’d additionally just been to the Natural background Museum and also I’d thought, why on earth isn’t anybody act dinosaurs?”

Several script were written for the BBC, together Primeval went with various different iterations (“first it to be made into a 90-minute drama, and then lock asked even if it is we can make it article nine o’clock” states Haines) prior to eventually detect a home at ITV.


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“When us started, there to be no medical professional Who, and we believed it to be time because that something like physician Who. However then Russell T Davies started medical professional Who, and we were considered to be as well , therefore after what must have actually been around four or 5 years, the BBC lastly turned that down,” describes Haines, charting the complex evolution the the first series.

“Nick Elliott, the commissioner in ~ ITV, had actually seen the success of doctor Who and Robin Hood too and thought, well, probably ITV has to shot this out. Here he had a script with Adrian’s talents behind it, so it is why they chose to walk for it.”

It to be at this suggest that the show started to find its cast. “The audition came through like any type of other, but when I review the script, i realised it was something really different. I’d never seen anything favor it,” claims Andrew Lee Potts, who played Connor temple in all five series of Primeval. “My first audition was the morning ~ a night shoot on another job. Ns was so over worn down I think I ended up being a tiny euphoric, which appeared to work for the manic mind of Connor.”

“When ns finished S society there were quite a couple of things that came through that i wasn’t really ready for. I simply needed a break, to escape the limelight in any way, shape, or form. Primeval come at a time when I was all set to come earlier into TV,” remembers Hannah Spearritt, that played Abby Maitland in every five series of Primeval. “In mine audition, we did an up-on-your-feet form thing, imagining Rex , due to the fact that Rex to be going to be a massive component of Abby’s character. The audition to be a small bit different to a common audition!”

“I no do any kind of auditions because that Primeval,” says Douglas Henshall, that played Nick Cutter in the first, second, and part of the third series of Primeval. “It to be an offer. I went and met Tim and also Adrian and also had a natter through them, and also that was it really. I preferred the premise. I assumed the idea the you can make a present that to be smart and also educational and fun, aimed at a family audience was a pretty idea. I believed it – particularly the an initial three episodes of the an initial series – was very well-written.”

“I had actually a selection between walking to perform Primeval or going come do another show, which was a particularly hard-hitting sort of… You guys would define it as gritty drama, i suppose. I’d been doing the for so lengthy that I believed it can be nice to go and also chase dinosaurs because that a while.”


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“I had actually a many fun,” states Spearritt. “It was cool come play a swashbuckling woman role, for the younger girls . I loved that facet to it, playing a solid female character. And the special effects were pretty high standard. I think they’ll stand the test of time – the budget plan was fairly high, i think a million pounds per episode? – so i think it will have aged well.”

“Merging the live action drama and the CGI threw up difficulties everyday, choose a huge jigsaw, but when it every came together the end product was something very special,” claims Potts. “Certain times as an gibbs you acquire lucky sufficient to have actually the possibility to beat a function that appears to fit favor a gloves (albeit a fingerless one), i’m happy to say Connor temple was one of those roles for me.”

Primeval touch on concepts of eco-friendly disaster and also environmental preservation; looking back, though, yes a feeling that that wasn’t simply ahead the its time thematically, however commercially as well. “I think we were us were born for Netflix, frankly,” claims Adrian Hodges. “No disrespect come ITV, who were very an excellent to us in their way. But I think ns think the would’ve to be nice to have actually a bigger budget. Tim did miracles on a relatively small budget at the time.”

“I think if we’d waited even an additional five years!” agrees Henshall. “When all the streaming networks started out, i think absolutely that would have actually done a many better, yeah.”

At the time, argues Haines, “British television’s strategy to genre was appalling. Over there was certainly a cultural snobbery towards it – we were lucky to gain Primeval away. ~ Primeval, I finished up make Sinbad and Beowulf, yet I need to say in retrospect, it was a little bit sad to have to make just since the audience recognised the name, rather than do something initial like Primeval.”


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The collection often seemed like it to be itself an endangered species, and also that hesitation wasn’t there is no its challenges. “We always got good ratings, yet we dropped victim to transforming hierarchies in ~ ITV, native memory. Ns don’t know exactly what to be going top top in the background, however Tim go a remarkable job of maintaining it ~ above the air,” says Hodges.

Peter Fincham had actually the oddest partnership with us: the turned it down at the BBC. As soon as he involved ITV, that cancelled it. And also then the recommissioned it, and also then he cancelled it again. He had 4 goes at the series!” laughs Haines. “It no ideal. But that was since of the 2008 crash: ITV was 2 weeks away from walking bankrupt, and so they to be slashing left, right, and centre. Our present unfortunately suffered due to the fact that of that, after collection three.”

It to be difficult, together well, to it is in up versus Doctor Who. “There to be no way that we could compete with doctor Who, you know? any type of time that we ever got matched up almost everywhere near them, us were completely squashed by them,” remembers Henshall.

to be a juggernaut in ~ the time, it was a behemoth. We were competitive, the course we were, however I simply wanted to perform well,” claims Hodges. “If us could’ve win them that would’ve to be great, yet that was never ever really our goal particularly. It was too large a display at that point, it had actually too much publicity. And Russell T Davies to be doing yes, really well through that display at the time, it to be brilliantly written. I felt it was a an excellent show at the moment – i think we’d have actually a much better chance today, let’s put it that way.”


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Andrew Lee Potts, meanwhile, thinks Primeval found the appropriate home. “I think the moment we fight the UK screens was just right, evaluate by that is success. I think it’s the nature of the beast (no pun intended) of gift an gibbs or involved in a present like this . The present was really expensive and also prime time, so over there was always a risk of it finishing prematurely. I think many actors are just happy if it it s okay past series one!”

Following the 2nd series, Douglas Henshall choose to leave Primeval, and also his character was created out in ~ the begin of the third. “I assumed it had become a small simplified in its ambitions,” the explains. “It was becoming a slightly different show, an ext of a monster-of-the-week form thing. The very first season, I believed was an extremely exciting, but it became much more standard by the finish of the second season, and I assumed they’d more than likely be far better served v someone else.”

“Of course, Jason Flemyng came in and then Ciarán McMenamin after ~ him. I understand Jason and I recognize Ciarán, ns trusted the they would both do a great job, however . I didn’t desire to perform that point of watching somebody that will go and be much better than you were – ns don’t desire to go and troll myself!”

“I learned a many lessons regarding how to command a show better. It assisted me a lot walk in to Shetland, simply for myself,” proceeds Henshall. “But I thought we do a pretty good show , we took miscellaneous that might have gone really badly wrong, and also it didn’t. Ns think us did the authors proud.”


“Dougie leaving was, that course, yes, really disappointing – he’s one of the finest actors in brother – however you have to adapt and move on,” says Spearritt. “He was the heartbeat that the show, and it was an extremely different after, yet the display evolved. We lost quite a many people, but new energy come in and also sometimes it is what’s needed.”

In one more timeline, the series might’ve unravelled differently. “Adrian did have a three collection arc because that Dougie. At the end, he was intended to be stuck with his wife in the past, but we had to change that,” states Haines.

That finishing would’ve tied right into one the Primeval’s best unanswered cliffhangers: that was Jenny Lewis, and also how had she changed Claudia Brown? at the close of collection one, Cutter changed from a trip to the past to discover that his almost-love attention Claudia Brown (Lucy Brown) had disappeared, and no-one else remembered her. Collection two introduced a brand-new character, Jenny Lewis – again played by Lucy Brown – and also it was only Cutter that noticed they were seemingly the very same person.

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“Jenny and Claudia to be the exact same person, having advanced in a various way. Gradually, we were walk to reveal that there were people all end the world with a comparable situation,” defines Hodges. “We only ever showed her at the time, however there were too many of world in that same situation, and also lots of prehistoric pets developing differently. Progressively Cutter would’ve noticed tiny differences in evolution, and also go to readjust things back.”

“I preferred that idea, and certainly Lucy went through it very well,” says Hodges, thinking back. “But unfortunately, we never really acquired a possibility to resolve it, it was too closely tied in with Dougie and was never the very same again together well.”


“It was a genuine shame. We didn’t desire to shed Dougie, yet he feeling he want to go and we couldn’t organize him. Which is fair enough! ns absolutely respected his decision making, he’s a an excellent guy, yet I was really disappointed once he went,” proceeds Hodges. “I think that did really well ~ above the show, and also I’d like to speak very highly the him. He carried a real gravity to the role.”

With the very first two collection of Primeval arriving on BritBox today, how do the cast and also creatives feel about audiences acquiring the possibility to revisit the show?

Primeval opened a door to the previous in the existing day and also where the is concerned, in mine opinion, that’s timeless,” enthuses Potts. “One the the points I feel Primeval did for this reason well to be mix drama, adventure and also humour for the entirety family to enjoy and also I think that’s why people remember the so fondly – that lovely to think it’s living on.”

“It was always a programme to escape reality, to allow the family to sit down and enjoy something together – it has those class young children and adults might enjoy it,” states Spearritt. “It’s dinosaurs, isn’t it? They never ever age.”

“I saw it not lengthy ago, i think that very great – well, several of the haircuts aren’t!” claims Hodges. “But ns think that aged yes, really well. I’m an extremely proud of that show, extremely proud. Ns think episode three of series one is one of the ideal things I’ve ever before written, funnily enough, the one whereby they uncover that Juliet Aubrey’s character is tho alive.”


“It made me a much better writer i think; it to be the an initial real money present I’d done, therefore the press was unbelievable. I realised how difficult it is to create clever dialogue and also a an excellent plot in together a short an are of time,” that continues. “I’d carry out tomorrow, I’d execute it in a heartbeat if ns could.”

“I think it would certainly be very hard for me come say no come revisiting Connor if asked,” agrees Potts. “I will constantly have a soft spot because that him and also I owe a lot come the civilization who reliable me with the role.”

“It would be interesting to play she again someday, to see the mature version of Abby,” claims Spearritt. “That to be the funny thing about it – we were all us were so young, it was practically unbelievable that we would be employed to !”

“It feel a tiny bit sad now for me, due to the fact that it to be a lovely present to job-related on, but it’s been and gone,” states Haines. “But the Primeval fans, the teams of them – that a beloved thing about the internet, the method these people and also enthusiasts can uncover each other – even if it is they create stories turn off the ago of the series, or even if it is they are creating brand-new images for it, writing and talking about the characters, it’s extremely flattering to gain to watch such enthusiasm still.”

Is over there anything in details they’d like civilization to take away from the town hall the show?


“That you’re best to it is in absolutely still fascinated through dinosaurs, and also science, and also climate and all of those things that were in the show,” says Henshall. “One of the finest nights that filming that I’ve had in a long time was when we go the night shoot at the brothers museum. We were in there all night by ourselves and we might wander roughly the museum in the dark, looking at the sarcophagi that mummified Egyptians.

“It was quite a magical thing to do, and I think an extremely in keeping with what we were make the efforts to execute in the show. The opportunity of every those things having been real as soon as was very, an extremely present. I think kids who to be excited around things choose that will still get a most pleasure the end of the show.”