Tuesday, January 03, 2006


ITV's new SF show based on a fossil record which is 'quirky', 'odd in places' and contains 'bits that can't be explained'.

A Happy New Year to one and all.

After the ratings success of BBC 1's Doctor Who in 2005, ITV has announced development of its own six part, £6 million, family freindly science fiction series: Primaeval. Of particluar interest to this blog is the show's underlying plot premise. According to co-creator and executive producer Tim Haines (as reported in SFX magazine, Jan 2006):

'The premise of the show is that if you're a zoologist you know that the whole of evolution is based on the fossil record and the fossil record is very quirky - there are some strange things in there. We've invented the idea that the reason that it's so odd in places and why there are bits that can't be explained, is because there are holes in time that occasionally open up and an animal wanders through from one time to another. So you can get strange mixings of creatures and indeed that might lead to evolution, rather than happening very, very gradually, occasionally going into overdrive.'

Primaeval will follow a group of scientists, led by Professor Cutter, who have to tackle invading pre-historic creatures.

Haine's company Impossible Pictures was responsible for the natural history shows Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts. ITV's need to compete with Doctor Who is Impossible Pictures opportunity to re-invest their technology and expertise into a drama show.

The exclusive SFX magazine article on Primaeval (SFX, Jan 2006, p. 14-15) raises the question of whether Haines is concerned:

'whether a series so concerned with evolution might be unsellable in a United States now seemingly obsessed by the debate on creationism and so-called intelligent design.'

The perjoritive use of 'so-called' and the incorrect equation of ID with creationism are just the sort of thing one unfortunately has to expect from the majority of reporters today.

Haines replies:

"I had a lovely note from Arthur C. Clark after Walking with Dinosaurs. He thought the series was fantastic and said I should parachute in hundreds of copies to the American Mid-West!" Haines laughed. "Discovery has been running this stuff in the US. There are just as many people there who have no idea about intelligent design. Creation science has been around for some time and I think it's a rather sad Frankenstein of ideas. If you are a Christian and you believe in all that, that's fine, but why try to cobble it together with scientific evidence and create your own weird mix?'

To my mind, these comments only go to show that it is not only many Americans who have 'no idea about intelligent design'. Once again ID is incorrectly equated with creation science and a critique of the latter (whether or not it is justified) is applied to the former.

Ironically, for all the concern over how a show 'concerned with evolution' will be received by creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design theory, the show in question is set to highlight one of the problems with evolution that fuels the debate about the merits of that theory; namely, the non-Darwinian nature of the fossil record considered overall!

Perhaps Haines and SFX magazine should worry instead about how Darwinists (like Arthur C. Clark in America or Richard Dawkins in the UK) will react to a major prime time SF show, produced by the company that made Walking with Dinosaurs, being based on the real life observation that 'the fossil record is very quirky', that it is 'odd in places' and contains 'bits that can't be explained' (from a Darwinian viewpoint that is)!

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