Created by Adrian Hodges and Tim Haines

Starring Douglas Henshall, James Murray, Hannah Spearritt, Andrew-Lee Potts, Ben Miller, Lucy Brown and Juliet Aubrey

This sci-fi action-adventure show was commissioned by ITV for its Saturday teatime slot, clearly with the intention of competing with the enormously successful revived ‘Doctor Who’ on BBC1, although the two shows are not broadcast in direct competition with one another. Although ‘Doctor Who’ is the obvious reference point, ‘Primeval’ possibly shares more similarities with ‘Torchwood’, just without the incessant sex and swearing.

The first season of six episodes aired between 10 February and 17 March 2007. A second season, this one scheduled to contain seven episodes, began on 12 January 2008. The airdate for the final episode of this second season is 23 February 2008.

I don’t read sci-fi / fantasy publications or visit associated online sites, where I am sure the show is receiving attention, but outside of this genre-specific publicity outlet, it doesn’t seem to have generated a great deal of interest. I have rarely come across mention of the show, unlike ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood’, both of which are virtually impossible to avoid. To be honest, I assumed it was not coming back following the end of the first season; such was the deafening silence that greeted it. Having said that, the first season had very respectable viewing figures of around 6.5 million per episode.

I am glad it has returned. I enjoyed the first season, not enough to feel a need to watch each episode more than once or, as yet, to purchase the DVD, but sufficiently to make a point of tuning in each week. Perhaps more importantly, I grew to like the show more and more with each episode. I thought it had really begun hit a stride by the time of the season finale, although I don’t think six episodes is enough to really grab hold of an audience. Perhaps a thirteen-episode run, like ‘Doctor Who’, would be better, although I suspect the production costs might be a factor here.

We are now two episodes into season two and the signs are very positive that this might even be an improvement on the first season, or at least continue in the same action-packed fun way. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as ‘Torchwood’ (a show I do like), which is to its advantage. The humour, used to make the more silly aspects of the show palatable, is corny, but it’s also warm-hearted and genuinely funny.

So, what is it about? The Scottish actor Douglas Henshall, who was excellent playing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in ‘The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle’ a couple of years ago, is palaeontologist Professor Nick Cutter. Eight years after his wife Helen disappears through a time anomaly he becomes the head of an oddball team, brought together in secret and somewhat disorganised circumstances to investigate further anomalies that begin to pop up in a variety of locations, allowing movement between the present and the prehistoric world.

The character that, perhaps, has most caught my attention so far is Helen Cutter, played by Juliet Aubrey, who increasingly seems to be mutating into a kind of psychotic mixture of Ellen Ripley and Indiana Jones.

In addition to Henshall, the cast of actors includes Hannah Spearritt, who was once a member of the teeny pop group S Club 7, and Andrew-Lee Potts, who I recognised from the very short-lived and under-rated BBC series ‘Strange’. Also instantly recognisable is Ben Miller, a versatile actor who is also famous as half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller.

A great fun watch on a Saturday early evening.


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