Teen drama 'Signs' debuts on Web

The BBC hopes to add to its reputation for cutting-edge new media with an online teen drama commissioned from “Big Brother” producer Endemol.

The pubcaster is investing £800,000 ($1.56 million) in eight 20-minute episodes of “Signs of Life.”

New-media topper Ashley Highfield described the venture as “Buffy meets horoscopes” and the Beeb’s “most ambitious Internet format to date.”

Worried that young auds are abandoning TV for the Web, Highfield thinks projects such as “Signs of Life” can help attract the fickle demographic.

“It’s aimed at the older teen market,” he said. “Depending on how people choose to navigate it, they can either experience ‘Signs of Life’ as a conventional narrative or interact with it.

“For example, by answering various questions, such as what is your star sign, viewers can build up a psychological profile of themselves. This can then be dragged and dropped into a social networking site like MySpace.”

Highfield, speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild in London, said creative ideas for the Internet are still thin on the ground.

He also said the BBC is planning to re-engineer BBC.co.uk in order to make it a more “personal” online experience that connects together more of the pubcaster’s content.

While BBC.co.uk receives 16 million hits a week in the U.K., it accounts for only 2% of the time people spend on the Web.

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