Primeval: New World behind the scenes

SciFiNow visit a Vancouver-based factory for a closer look at the North American reboot of Primeval, coming later this year on Space

The North American spin-off of the UK teatime dino-smasher Primeval stands to be a lot more dangerous, and bigger budget. SciFiNow visited the set in Vancouver, where Primeval: New World is currently being filmed in a factory (their version of ARC). It’s a split-level set reminiscent of the control centre in Stargate Atlantis, and heading up the team is Niall Matter (A Town Called Eureka), who plays the ‘enterprising inventor and visionary hero’ Evan Cross.

“Our moments with the dinosaurs are going to be a lot more real and higher stakes,” he tells us. “It’s got a harder edge that we walk on because every time we see these creatures it affects us in a huge way and we’re never getting used to that. I feel like the original Primeval knew a lot more about the world that they were dealing with than we do.”

Cross’ office looks more like a library, packed with scientific periodicals, where he feeds his obsession for figuring out anomalies (rifts in space and time that prehistoric and futuristic beasts escape through). “He stumbles on one accidentally in 2006 when he’s driving with his wife,” Matter explains. “He’s not really sure what it is but he does know that it’s creating radio interference so he goes to search for the source. He finds the building that is now Cross Photonics but he doesn’t know he’s going to buy it at that time. In that building he stumbles across one of these anomalies. In doing that, though, he loses the most important thing in his life.”

Joining the team is predator attack expert Dylan Weir played by Sara Canning, a former Vampire Diaries alumnus. “On that show I was a human who didn’t know about the vampires so I was often drinking in the kitchen or drinking at the bar,” she says. “I was always longing to be out in the field when they’d be shooting the crazy scenes in the woods where people were getting attacked. Now I’m right in the thick of it. In this show I’m running, running, running, shooting, shooting, shooting right in the middle of all the danger.”

The creatures they’re running from are being kept hidden in the vast Vancouver backdrop for now, which includes postcard-worthy snow-capped mountains that Primeval UK could only have CGI-rendered. For now, though, the beasts are far from frightening as Stargate Atlantis’ Chuck Campbell is standing in to give the actors a reference point. “He’ll put on this suit,” explains Niall Matter with a grin, “which makes him look like a grey ninja, and he’ll either stuff it with padding so he’s bigger or he keeps himself skinny depending on the dinosaur he’s playing. The very first time I saw him I almost pissed my pants laughing, but then you get used to it.”

Primeval: New World will debut later this year on Space and Primeval Season 5 is currently airing in the UK on Saturdays on ITV.