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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK


Dinosaur saga is monster hit

Back in time: The programme cost £6m to make

BBC One's new prehistoric natural history series Walking With Dinosaurs has proved a hit - with more than half of all viewers tuning in for the first programme.

According to unofficial figures, about 51% of the audience - or 13.2 million viewers - watched the inaugural episode on Monday evening.

BBC One controller Peter Salmon said: "Walking With Dinosaurs may be the biggest thing on television in 200 million years. It is great that viewers have voted it a monster hit."

Walking With Dinosaurs uses the latest in computer animation and scientific findings to recreate creatures which last walked the Earth 65 million years ago.

[ image: Peter Salmon: BBC One's controller
Peter Salmon: BBC One's controller "thrilled" with the programme's ratings
It cost BBC Science £6m to make. Its early success will be seen as a welcome vindication for the channel, which has recently lost out to programmes such as the ITV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Salmon added: "BBC One is unique in bringing quality science programmes to a mainstream audience, so I am absolutely thrilled that a science series of scale and ambition has been rewarded with such an enthusiastic response from viewers."

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.

It features familiar favourites like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Dipodocus and the Stegosaurus, as well as lesser-known prehistoric creatures such as Liopleurodon, the world's largest carnivore.

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.

The first programme looked at how the dinosaurs evolved and came to dominate the planet.

The next episode of Walking With Dinosaurs can be seen on BBC One on Monday 11 October.

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