So with that in mind, I checked the ratings for last night's episode of Primeval, and saw that the ratings were 3.54 million/15.2%. I have no idea what the ratings for the series have been so far on BBC America, but if someone knows perhaps they will comment on this here, please.
While this is a recovery somewhat from last week's ratings, this is a show from ITV that must have at least a 4 million viewing audience, as I would argue that based on their previous track record, they tend to cancel series that have less than this, and with the sheer cost of Primeval's effects, well... let's just say the show needs better ratings to stay on the air and not get cancelled again.
So what accounts for the poor ratings? Several factors. First off, ITV is known for its reality shows and soaps, not for science fiction stuff, which is more the BBC's forte. When ITV cancelled the series the first time, the BBC did not express interest in it, as they already had their Doctor Who series, and let's face it that's their bread-winner in the sf genre. So why take on another show that has...an expensive as heck budget?
Secondly, Primeval is suffering from new cast syndrome. With the cancellation of the series after its third series, the only three characters left from the what was a shocking, interesting, and surprising cliffhanger were Ben Miller, Hannah Spearritt, and Andrew-Lee Potts, and Ben Mansfield. Part of the problem that Primeval has had is the introduction of new characters since the start of the third series, as the departure of Doug Henshall, Lucy Brown, and Juliet Aubrey meant a change in the focus of the show, and the introduction of the characters of Jason Flemyng, Ben Mansfield, and Laila Rouass caused a severe sort of "emotional" jolt to viewers of the series, as one had to get used to the new cast members. With the eighteen month hiatus of the series, Jason Flemyng and Laila Rouass couldn't come back to the show, and thus a whole new set of characters needed to be introduced in current Series 4. It's very tough for a tv series like Primeval to have a lot of story continuity when the cast members keep changing like this, and obviously the characters of Becker, Abby, and Connor aren't the ones to act as the main focus of the series. Or so the ITV personnel and the people behind the series believe. In any event, very tough for folks to get into the new series.
The third problem, as I see it, is the time period they decided to put the show in. While a Saturday night is a good viewing slot for a lot of stuff, in my opinion, science fiction doesn't work in that slot in England unless it's Doctor Who, and that works better in the 6:00 pm time slot (from my memories as a kid). Assuming the BBC has offered some strong competition, that's enough to off the series by itself. If they had put the first episode or two on yesterday, rather than the long, holiday New Year weekend, they might have got better viewing figures, especially if they had promotions for the series leading up to it, as from what my friends in England have told me there wasn't a lot of advertising and promos for the current series. And that was paramount, given the 18-month "break" the series had.
In any event, suffice it to say that I suspect the ratings of the current run of Primeval aren't good enough to keep the series going, and get us a renewal for Series 6, though I hope I'm wrong. So I console myself with the thought that since both Series 4 and 5 have been filmed, the Fifth series will air at some point (or perhaps they may decide to go straight to DVD).
In the meantime, I remain a devoted, in-love-with-the-series fan of Primeval.