Saturday, October 13, 2007

Beeb unveils plans for interactive internet archive for every BBC show

DOCTOR WHO and The One Show are set to be at the forefront of a new project to archive every episode of every BBC programme with an interactive web page.
This could see Doctor Who fans unlocking extra storylines not shown on television from character blogs, MySpace pages and secret websites.
Speaking at a creative breakfast organised by producer-training group TRC last week, Simon Nelson, multiplatform controller for BBC Vision, explained that Doctor Who would be one of a few programmes given a full internet dimension beyond the television series.
These would sit above a wider archive of all BBC programme episodes that will be gathered together under a new part of the main BBC website. Nelson said that with only 20% of BBC programming currently supported by web pages, it seemed an "open goal" to tackle all the rest.
With the internet and television becoming ever more converged - the BBC iPlayer makes it possible to watch all BBC programmes from the past seven days online - Nelson said: "This is going to be a prime way in which people discover what they are going to watch. If you don't do this stuff, ultimately your programmes could become invisible."
He explained that programmes would be divided into three categories dubbed basic, enhanced and 360. The basic category, which is the general archive, will see every programme episode allotted a page with interactive information such as when it was transmitted and production credits.
There would also be a programme clip and possibly functions such as rating and tagging, although Nelson said these were "scary" to an organisation such as the BBC.
Asked by Andrew Chitty, managing director of new media producer Illumina and a board member of TRC, why it was scary when it was the kind of thing the BBC had to do, Nelson replied: "I totally agree, but at a traditional television business, the idea of letting audiences rate programmes to be seen by other members of the audience - that's pretty scary."
The enhanced and 360 pages would then provide extra layers of interactivity for certain selected programme brands.
Programmes earmarked for enhanced treatment include Andrew Marr's History Of Modern Britain, Question Time and Later With Jools Holland.
The new web pages may allow people to embed a clip of the programme in sites such as YouTube and Facebook and then attach their own clips and photos under different headings. For instance, History Of Modern Britain might include a section where people could reminisce about 1970s haircuts. On top of that there would be interactive gismos, with a wiki-style "Memories" option mooted for the History page that would allow people to post entries on a giant timeline, saying why certain dates mattered to them.
Nelson said that the 360 category, which is expected to include Doctor Who and The One Show, would make the largest amount of interactive content available. These will be paid for from the budget currently being used to develop the BBC's interactive platforms.
He namechecked the site for US show Heroes (, with its character blogs and online puzzles, as the sort of thing he had in mind.
He said: "A really big ambitious 360 doesn't just have to be a really exciting flash website. It's something that uses the whole canvas of the internet to create new stories, new services and games around it."

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