Interview: Co-creator Adrian Hodges

In part one of an exclusive interview, Primeval’s co-creator Adrian Hodges discusses going underwater and back in time for Series V, what fans can do to help ensure the show’s success and the status of the American version…

Words: Paul Simpson

What’s reaction been like to the Series V episodes so far?

Very, very good. I haven’t spent a lot of time on the forums; I don’t really tend to do that. I do read them to answer specific queries, but not to read about myself, which I find rather unsettling. The audience reaction in terms of numbers has been really good, which is very encouraging from Watch’s point of view, and obviously from ours. It’s all relative in the digital landscape but the fact that it’s their biggest show of the year, bar the pilot of No Ordinary Family, is obviously very satisfying. As far as I know, it’s connecting very well.

These six episodes are a little darker than the first seven [that comprised series four], although dark is relative in this universe. They’re certainly more unified, because we could allow the serial story to occupy a place where it could be more prominent. I think that helps. Right from the beginning of the show, I’ve always preferred it when we could foreground the serial story, and that’s not always possible in a 13-episode arc, any more than it is in a 22-episode arc. It’s nice in this final six – which might be the final six – that we can keep it very focused. We can really take the characters where we want them to go, and confront them with darker things. I’m glad if people like that, because that was absolutely the intention.

Episode two felt like a bit of a homage to Irwin Allen shows such asVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea

I was thrilled to bits with that – when we watched it, my wife had no idea that we hadn’t actually got a submarine. The set design was very good! Michael Ralph, our set designer was such a great asset to the show; he was so endlessly enthusiastic.

How much of episode three was shot on location?

A lot of it. I think some of the stuff in the warehouse was in the studio. We wanted to mix it up. One of the benefits of shooting in Dublin is that the streets and some of the old parts of the city can look Victorian relatively easily. It’s probably about 50/50.

You’ve not really done time travel stories like that one veryoften…

That’s [co-creator] Tim [Haines]’s thing. He’s said from the very beginning that we’re not a time travel show, and I’ve always been willing to go along with that. But I have to admit I’ve always wanted to do a Star Trek episode… so that was our modest gesture in that direction.

It was always a bit risky. It’s always difficult to generate something new from that kind of idea. We’ve all seen excellent sci-fi stories set in that sort of context. But we felt it was the right time; we liked the idea of a raptor in the Victorian era and mixing that up with the idea of a serial killer. That was fun, and it’s a different sort of episode. It tied up the Matt and Emily thing as well. The melodrama was played up – we said, “Let’s not get too restrained by subtlety here. Melodrama is part of the Victorian tradition here, so let’s embrace that.”

Without spoiling the episodes, what can you tell us about what’s coming up?

I’m particularly pleased with episode four, I have to admit, and episode five is our Ken Adams episode! Five and six are two halves of the same show. We really wanted to send this series out with a literal bang. In a way, it drew together a lot of the themes that we touched on in the various series, and for my money, it really benefits from uniting the series and serial storylines, so that you really do have everybody involved with the same goal. I’m bound to say, though it shouldn’t matter to the fans, it was achieved on a very small budget, certainly by American standards.

What’s the status of a series six?

There is no more news. We have absolutely every desire to make a new series, but we need the show to carry on doing really well on Watch, to sell well on DVD, but most significantly to do well on ITV when it’s shown early next year. Sadly, that means that we will just have to hang on.

So does that mean probably January 2013 before there are new episodes?

It does, but we’ve negotiated that before. I think people will feel at the end of this series that we’ve reached an interesting point in the show’s development. Obviously we would like all the cast to come back, but if we do go again, and the cast changes, we think we would be able to make that work as a fresh start. We’re not too concerned about the hiatus in the way we were [when the show was dropped at the end of series three] when it really was an awful shock. It was completely out of the blue and ruined all our plans to do various things.

This series, because we had to plan for it as if it were our last episode, we think it is a very satisfying conclusion, but we have prepared the ground to go again.

What’s the situation on the North American TV version?

That’s rumbling on, and going a little slower than I would like. I’ve just received a new draft of the pilot episode, so I’m looking forward to reading that. I hope we can accelerate that soon.

That will be very much a continuation of the UK TV mythology – it’s a parallel group of people who are very aware of what the British operation do, and there will be some crossover with the British cast. Obviously the show is a worldwide show, and we don’t want to waste that potential – we want to build on it. Whether the British show continues or not, the North American show might be a good way of showing what happens next.

In part II of the interview, Adrian Hodges talks in more detail about the making of that episode, drops some hints about the finale, and explains the state of play on the Warner Brothers feature film adaptation…

Check out our interviews with Ben Mansfield and Alexander Siddig

and our reviews of the season so far: episodes 1, 2, and 3

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