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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 06:09 GMT
Future of TV: The TV soap boss
Emmerdale's Tom King, played by Ken Farrington
Emmerdale fans will attempt to solve Tom King's murder online
ITV1 soap Emmerdale is preparing for a blockbuster Christmas storyline as millionaire businessman Tom King is murdered on his wedding day.

The show's website will let viewers follow the mystery by moving into the village and finding clues in the surroundings, talking to characters, watching catch-up video and exclusive clips, and reading characters' blogs.

Kath Beedles is the show's executive producer.

What are you planning for the website and why are you doing it?

Web viewers get online, often during an episode, talking about what they're seeing. The soap audience knows everything's significant and want to be one step ahead.

Emmerdale series producer Kath Beedles
For hundreds of years, we've always wanted a good story to be told, so that won't change
Kath Beedles
Emmerdale series producer
So earlier this year, thinking about the Tom King storyline, we thought they're going to be doing that anyway, they're going to be on the messageboards swapping clues trying to figure it out, so why don't we give them a space?

It's become more of a broadband online channel. You register for the site and move into a house online, like Smithy Cottage. You explore the village to gain clues - it's been photographed like a police crime scene and you can look at specific details.

Every week there are a number of set clues totalling 100 points. There's going to be a leaderboard for who gets the points the fastest and when you get the points, you get a 20-digit combination code for a safe. Across 20 weeks, you'll be able to open the safe.

I think it's fun, but it's about giving the viewer a deeper experience because that hunger is definitely there for that.

How will we be watching TV in 10 years?

The thing about TV is it's often about a shared experience. There's nothing better than sitting down with your family or boyfriend and enjoying something together, so I don't think that will ever go.

But I was on a plane at the weekend and I love the fact I can sit there with my iPod and watch a film because it's personal to me and about me keeping the things that I like wherever I go. I think there's definitely room for both.

What does the future hold for the traditional TV channel?

If you look at multi-channel platforms, it is still the big brand names that get the viewers. There's nothing like a big production, when you go into work the next day and know other people are likely to have seen it.

I think TV is often about shared experience so I don't think channels are dying a death. They are changing, but it's making everybody raise their game.

Before digital TV, there were only four channels to watch so you could pretty much guarantee a certain audience for everything. Now you've got that competition and I think it makes people better.

Will TV programmes be changed by how we watch them?

For hundreds and hundreds of years, we've always wanted a good story to be told, so that won't change.

But the way you get that entertainment - like what we're doing with the online interactive channel or mobisodes or whatever - I do think there's a hunger for content. It's just expanding the depth of the storytelling experience.

How will the viewing experience and viewing habits change?

I think DVDs changed people's viewing habits - like the first series of Desperate Housewives, I waited for the DVD and watched it in a block over a fortnight. So people will still watch the programmes but they may not watch them at the same time.

And how you rate a programme's success might change - it might not just be about ratings in the future. It might be more sales of DVDs or downloads. A good programme will always get a viewership, but not necessarily just on that first transmission.

What role will user-generated video play in mainstream viewing?

I love YouTube and stuff like that - but part of me thinks if you put that on telly, it would be like a slightly downmarket You've Been Framed.

You can get some gems and people who are picked up by TV companies because they've obviously got real talent, but there's a lot of dross out there.

I think it will be a fun thing to do but I don't think it will be a mass viewing experience apart from the odd gem that will catch on.




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