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Netflix, Channel 4 Pick Up Virtual World Thriller ‘Kiss Me First’ from ‘Skins’ Writer

LONDON — Streaming service Netflix has picked up thriller series “Kiss Me First” in all territories outside the U.K., where it will air on Channel 4’s youth channel E4. The show is written by “Skins” scribe Bryan Elsley, who adapted Lottie Moggach’s young adult novel of the same name.

The series, whose first season comprises six hourlong episodes, tells the story of Leila, a lonely 17-year-old girl who is addicted to a fictional online gaming site called Agora. While in Agora, Leila meets Tess, a cool and confident party girl who harbors a dark secret. In the real world, the two girls become friends, but after Tess disappears Leila decides to assume her friend’s identity and in doing so is quickly drawn into unravelling the mystery behind her disappearance.

The series will combine live action with computer-generated virtual world sequences to create the parallel worlds of Leila and Tess’ real life and that of their online alteregos “Shadowfax” and “Mania” in the virtual world of Agora.

It will also feature state-of-the-art animation sequences evoking the world of Agora and the stories of the young people who meet clandestinely there. This virtual world alongside live-action narrative will provide a platform for exploring the loneliness and isolation experienced by young people, and the disparity between appearance and reality in the social media age.

Piers Wenger, head of drama at Channel 4, said: “This is a thrilling and truly ground-breaking series, which takes an emotional look at the lives of a group of young gamers and the truth that exists behind their online life.”

Larry Tanz, VP global television at Netflix, said: “Netflix is committed to bringing the work of bold and innovative voices like Bryan’s to our subscribers around the world. ‘Kiss Me First’ is a show with global themes and resonance, and we are proud to launch the show simultaneously across the entire world, exclusively on Netflix immediately after its broadcast in the U.K.”

The series will be produced by Balloon — the production company co-owned by Elsley and Harry Enfield — and Kindle Entertainment for Channel 4 in association with Netflix. Elsley and Melanie Stokes will be executive producers on the project and Bradley Adams will be the producer. Production will begin this year.

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