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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK


BBC launches prehistoric saga

Walking With Dinosaurs: The most expensive BBC documentary ever

Watch the stunning opening sequence from Walking With Dinosaurs

Forget Jurassic Park. Six years on from Spielberg's blockbuster film, the BBC is putting dinosaurs back on screen in its prehistoric natural history series, Walking With Dinosaurs.

Nick Higham: BBC hopes to regain audience share with new series
This £6m BBC Science series uses the latest in computer animation and scientific findings to recreate creatures which last walked the Earth 65 million years ago.

Familiar favourites like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Dipodocus and the Stegosaurus will be featured in what is being billed as one of the most ambitious TV programmes ever made.

[ image: The series marks a watershed in television imagery]
The series marks a watershed in television imagery
Lesser-known prehistoric creatures such as Liopleurodon, the world's largest carnivore and Ornithocheirus, the biggest flying creature ever known, will also be seen in their full glory for the first time.

Producer Tim Haines, who has spent the last three years working on the project says: "The series will show dinosaurs as never before, allowing people to believe that they are watching living, breathing creatures in their natural habitat.

"For the first time ever, people will have a window into a lost world to see what it was really like when these extraordinary animals inhabited the earth".

Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, the six-part series uses the latest in scientific thinking to reproduce the long-extinct creatures and their entire eco-system.

[ image: A dinosaur model is laser scanned into the computer]
A dinosaur model is laser scanned into the computer
More than one hundred experts were consulted on every aspect of dinosaur life, which was brought to life using minutely detailed scale models and the very latest in computer animation.

Unlike the dinosaurs themselves, the backgrounds in the series are real - they were filmed in remote locations, such as the monkey puzzle forests of Chile, where prehistoric plants still exist today.

And as the most expensive documentary series the BBC has ever made, it is important that it is a success.

BBC ratings have taken a knock recently from programmes such as ITV's Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and the corporation has been criticised for not producing enough quality programmes to justify the licence fee.

The latest attack came just this week, when Birds Of A Feather creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran attacked the BBC for showing too many "sub-standard ITV shows".

With Walking With Dinosaurs, the BBC will be hoping to inspire and amaze audiences and reassert its reputation for innovative, high quality shows.

Walking With Dinosaurs begins on BBC One on Monday, 4 October.

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