'Groundbreaking' deal to share costs with UKTV channel Watch prompts ITV1 to announce 13 new episodes over two series"
Dinosaur drama Primeval has been rescued from extinction three months after ITV1 said it would not recommission the programme – thanks to a "groundbreaking" deal to share costs with a digital channel.
MediaGuardian.co.uk revealed in May that producer Impossible Pictures was trying to put together a deal to save the show, in which a group of scientists in present-day Britain fight prehistoric and futuristic creatures that have been transported through time. But ITV announced in June that it would not proceed.
However, ITV today said it had agreed to share the next two series, comprising 13 episodes in total, with UKTV channel Watch after a deal was hammered out by Impossible Pictures and partner BBC Worldwide, which distributes the show internationally.
In the new funding structure BBC Worldwide has overtaken ITV to become the largest partner, with BBC America – which broadcasts the series in the US – joining Germany's Pro7 as a co-production partner.
ITV1 will premiere the fourth series of the show in early 2011. Watch – which already airs sci fi shows Doctor Who and Torchwood – will repeat it soon after and then premiere the fifth series later the same year, followed by ITV1.
The new series will reunite the stars from the previous series, including Hannah Spearritt, Andrew-Lee Potts and Jason Flemyng, alongside the acclaimed special effects created by Framestore CFC. Showrunner Adrian Hodges will oversee the series.
Tim Haines, creative director of Impossible Pictures, said: "I am thrilled that ITV has agreed to this new deal, which will allow Impossible Pictures to produce another 13 episodes of Primeval. The confidence demonstrated in the programme's continued success here and abroad will help us bring more big-screen action and a whole host of new creatures roaring back into people's living rooms."
Laura Mackie, director of ITV drama commissioning, added: "We're delighted to have agreed this new deal with Impossible to return Primeval to ITV1. The innovative nature of this partnership will allow the show to maintain its high production values."
The third run of Primeval launched with 5.3 million viewers in April. Impossible Pictures is developing a film version.
ITV also announced the axing of its other Saturday teatime drama, Demons, in June, saying it wanted to concentrate on its peaktime drama.
Primeval has sold to more than 45 countries worldwide, including Australia, Singapore and South Korea.