Primeval's most eventful series to date came to its climax tonight with a finale that saw Helen meet her maker, Connor and Abby stranded in the past and poor Danny stranded even further in the past. So what next for the gang? Is Cutter definitely dead? And do rumours of a film version and US spinoff have weight? We caught up with Primeval co-creator Tim Haines for a chat about the show's future.
Series three was very busy - more episodes than before and lots of comings and goings. What was your own highlight?
"Oooh! Lots really. I think the airplane scenes with the Giganotosaurus in episode four worked nicely. I think the fungus monster was good, when I was worried at some point it wasn't going to be! The Knight story was charming and made a bit of a difference. Also I found Cutter's demise in episode three very moving. We were very unfortunate to be opposite Doctor Who that night - it was a big blow - but there we are. In the long run the figures returned to what they were before."
As for Cutter being killed off, was that always the plan or was it Dougie's decision?
"There's always been a Cutter-Helen arc that wasn't going to last forever because they were running such an intense relationship. Something had to give! The order in which it happened was just rather dictated by circumstances but it worked very well for the series. Jason [Flemyng] has been great coming in after Dougie left."
A few episodes later we also lost Jennifer/Claudia. Was that always a natural consequence of Cutter being killed?
"I think that was fallout and definitely part of it. Jenny, though, is very deliberately not gone forever, if we don't want it, but she was clearly emotionally attached. It was quite difficult to set a similar relationship up with her and Danny. It depends, she could come back."
With that said, could Cutter also come back?
"Everything is possible but we're very cautious about playing that card, even though I know at the end of series one they came back and changed time. I know this sounds contradictory, but fundamentally Primeval isn't a time travel show. It's a show about creatures popping up now, therefore we avoid all these time conundrums which could completely turn your storylines upside down. So other than the Jenny/Claudia contradiction, we haven't played that at all. As you know, Jim [Murray, aka Stephen] didn't come back in series three. Again, we don't need to close anything off - people could pop up in all sorts of ways - but we're reluctant to be too fast and loose with time."
I had lots of messages from fans, including a lot in Germany, who seemed to be quite angry with Stephen's departure - and again with Cutter's demise. What would you say to those fans?
"It's absolutely essential for this show to communicate that there is real jeopardy for the team. They do go into the most ridiculous scrapes and survive every week, but at some point something's got to give. Otherwise it becomes increasingly cartoonish. I do have enormous sympathy for the fans. We spend a lot of time getting people to like our characters and then when one dies, people can get annoyed about it or feel it's wrong. But at the same time, that's what drama's about."
In the finale we also lost Helen. Is it safe to say now that the Helen/Cutter/Stephen arc has come to an end?
"Yes. And the death of Helen leaves quite a lot of things that we will pick up in the fourth series. Helen disappeared for years and we never explored why, or how, or what she got up to. She left a diary behind and there are also other things she left behind which gives clues to something else that's going on. So although that's the end of the Helen-Cutter-Stephen triangle, it has echoes as we continue forward."
Has the fourth series been officially commissioned yet?
"No, not yet. Obviously we always have ideas about what we want to do but until we get the greenlight, we won't do anything. Adrian [Hodges, co-creator] and I have planned lots of things, but we're all waiting for the decision."
When I spoke to you and Adrian in the early days of Primeval, you said you had a three-year plan for the show. Now we've finished series three, do you have a clear idea of what's happening going forward with series four, five and beyond?
"We do have a plan for the foreseeable future. Moving forward we have two series ahead, with what we're thinking at the moment. Thinking beyond that would just do our heads in, so we don't! You can always lay down new tracks as you go, so that's what we'll seek to do if we're lucky enough to go again and again."
In the last month a movie version of Primeval has been confirmed. How does that fit in with the TV series? Should it be considered a separate project?
"It is somewhat a separate project because as you can imagine, the big studios are a law unto themselves. They will listen to us and of course be very understanding and try to take the essence of the show onto the big screen. In the end they are movie makers and they will make the film they think works. We've yet to see how that pans out."
Will it use the same cast?
"I have no idea. There is no onus on them to have the same cast, and like all these things, those decisions haven't been made yet but when they come to concentrate on it, they will decide what to do."
Finally, there have been reports of a US-based spinoff. Is there any truth to that?
"We're working on that with people in Canada for budgeting reasons. We're working on it. I don't know whether it will happen but it seems to be trundling along."
Is it a remake or is it a spinoff set in the same universe?
"I think our aim is that it lives in the same universe. Think CSI!"
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