Project X | An Interactive Online Participative TV Puppet Show

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An idea that nearly changed my life.

What follows is an idea for a kids puppet show I emailed someone back in July 2006:

A weekly series (episodes only 10minutes long), purely online where kids can also download shows onto their iPods or PSPs or even mobile phones. Because it’s online you can make it interactive in terms of each episode can be commented on (like on a weblog) and the viewers can suggest a forward narrative or plot plus character developments—that would mean every week the creators would be influenced and directed by the viewers comments…

One day to plan, one day to shoot: it goes live every Friday—comments open till the Wednesday morning, development day, Thursday shoot and edit—Friday morning live (whole process starts again)…

Business model: well you could sell advertising but it has to be managed or very very short. The real money would come from selling mobile phone wallpaper, ringtones, merchandise such as tshirts etc—even DVD bundles of all the shows or if Jim Henson were to produce and run with it, use it as a vehicle to promote his other product lines or shows…

Kids television at that time was seeing its funders look elsewhere. The main terrestrial channels were buying in cheaper foreign shows rather than commissioning home grown talent. Coupled with the rise of cable / satellite / internet, the eyeballs were dispersing and audiences were dwindling rapidly.

A 50 year old industry was in decline.

After being invited to speak at the main UK conference on kids television at the time, I sat in most of the sessions confused as to why these amazingly creative people weren’t simply adapting to the new mediums and opportunities it bought. Embracing them as tools to shape new possibilities and audiences.

The above idea was born at that event.

The contact who received the email was one of the co-founders of the amazing Fraggle Rock (amongst other things). The response was more than encouraging and within a couple of months a meeting was set up at BAFTA. There I was surrounded by a creative consortium of kid show producers, voice actors and puppet operators who have worked on most of the kids shows I grew up on (most of which had served their apprenticeship under the great Jim Henson).

All were enthusiastic and wanted to play—the delight of possibility was titillating and it was oh so exciting.

Alas, with no coherent lead and money becoming available, momentum was lost in the following weeks.

A year from the original idea it was already being done by someone else, and others, even the big players, kind of…

Ideas can have all the promise in the world but they need others to thrive. Partnerships to create foundations and leaders to lead. More importantly they need chancers to push at that boundary and explore new paths. To be the first. (Ideas need) pioneers.

Six and a half years later I’m pretty sure if this did happen it would’ve changed the direction in my life…

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