I was employed as the specialist researcher on “Prehistoric Park”: a ~$6m, 6x45 family documentary-drama series aired in 2006 (ITV1 / Animal Planet). Our presenter, TV zoologist Nigel Marven, travels back in time to try and save various animal species from extinction by bringing them back to a fictional wildlife sanctuary: the "Prehstoric Park" of the title.
My job involved many aspects of production, but was especially concerned with consulting scientists, helping craft science-driven plotlines, and guiding artists' reconstructions of extinct creatures. In many ways, this was not dissimilar to creating museum exhibits: especially getting the various models as accurate as we could.
Whilst at Impossible Pictures I occasionally helped out with odds and ends in other productions: “Walking with Monsters” (BBC1/ Discovery), “Primeval” (ITV1), “Perfect Disasters” (Five / Discovery), “T. Rex: 100 years in pictures” ( BBC 1 / Animal Planet) and new programme development.
I have to say that I totally enjoyed my time at Impossible, and would relish the opportunity to work with them again.
From the airing of the ground-breaking “Walking with Dinosaurs” in 1999, these CGI -driven series have attracted criticism from some scientists and journalists. Criticism mainly stems from the depiction of scientific inference as fact, and occasional errors or differences of opinion with what is portrayed onscreen.
Prof. Mike Benton, a scientific consultant for the original Walking With Dinosaurs series wrote an editorial in The Times (London), shortly after the end of the series' run on BBC 1 (November 1999). It was entitled “Why I dared walk with TV dinosaurs” and dealt with criticisms of the series.
I will add that not all science-themed TV shows are going to appeal to everyone. For my own viewing I prefer the more ‘dry' traditional ‘build-the-evidence' style science shows, but I appreciate that many people, especially families, might like to see more action, or experience the total-immersion style of the “Walking With…” series, or “ Prehistoric Park ”. I see Prehistoric Park et al as documentaries that are watched by people that maybe wouldn't normally watch a traditional documentary. Subsequently, they get our science message out to previously unreached audiences. That can only be a good thing.
There are various clips of Prehistoric Park on youtube (probably not legally)