Promoters of the dino-romp Primeval came up with a roaringly good way to publicise their latest series.
The venue for their VIP premiere was London Zoo, so members of the press could bring along their families and, suitably fired up by the effects-packed creature feature, were free to explore the park afterwards.
Not only were the show’s two young stars on hand to meet and greet, but there was even a baby T rex milling about and swishing its tail among the wide-eyed kids and amused reporters.
I felt desperately sorry for the operator: it looked a horribly heavy costume, and the day was warming up by the minute. Plus I wasn’t clear how it had negotiated two flights of stairs to the function room.
The actors, Andrew Lee Potts and Hannah Spearritt, were relaxed and friendly with their fans, and generous with their time throughout.
Potts, in rakish straw hat, and Spearritt, now sporting a short, copper-coloured hairdo, seemed perfectly practised at the press-circus routine. Indeed, as one of S Club 7 at an early age, Spearritt must be a dab hand.
An item in real life, the pair sat next to each other at the front of the screening room for the premiere of season five’s opening episode. Rather sweetly, their heads were inclined slightly towards each other as they watched.
However, as members of Primeval’s Anomaly Research Centre – geeky scientist Connor Temple and feisty former zookeeper Abby Maitland – their relationship falls into the “will they, won’t they” category.
The new episode, a giddy blend of time travel, romantic complication and unfeasibly large woodlice, was received at the end with rapturous applause, and shows the makers honing both their CGI skills and their humorous lines with growing precision.
The fifth season promises furious liopleurodons, murderous raptors and lethal beetles from the future.
Co-creator Adrian Hodges says, “The stakes are higher and the stories are even more focused on the individuals in the team. There’s a crisis for everyone and the team faces the biggest challenge it’s ever had.”
And to think it might never have happened. Despite three successful series and average audiences of five million, the programme was cancelled in 2009. But a rescue package was devised with producers Impossible Pictures to resurrect the show, which it did with a fourth series starting in January 2011.
The co-production deal means that UKTV entertainment channel Watch gets first dibs on series five, which kicks off on Tuesday 24 May at 8pm. ITV will screen the series later in the year.