Norwich teens to film soap opera

Rob GarrattTeenagers in Norwich are set to star in, write and film their own soap opera - and viewers will be able to decide the plot themselves.Rob Garratt

Teenagers in Norwich are set to star in, write and film their own soap opera - and viewers will be able to decide the plot themselves.

The groundbreaking project will see media-savvy youngsters working together to film a mini series focusing on teenage life in the city.

And the drama's outcome will be decided by its fans thanks to regular voting that will see viewers choose where they want the plot to go next.

The pioneering scheme is being run by CMedia, an organisation that uses media to engage youngsters and provide opportunities.

It was given the green light today thanks to a handout of nearly �10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, and is hoped to act as a vehicle for teenagers to share their fears on issues such as drink, drugs and sex.

It will primarily be put together by a core of about 20 children, aged between 13 and 18, who will work with specialists to write the scripts and plotlines, film scenes and grab the spotlight onscreen as stars.

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Entitled What Would You Do? the show will feature a cliffhanger at the end of every episode where viewers can vote online about what characters should do next.

Sean Whyte, director of CMedia, said: 'Young people don't normally get a voice to say what they think, and this drama will allow them to show what they think is going on.

'It will focus on issues young people are currently facing, which might include things like drugs, gang culture and teenage pregnancy. Some might come from their real experiences, but using drama to tell their story from a distance.

'It will be a great learning experience and we're hoping some of the kids involved will pick up skills that mean they can go off and work in the media.'

Viewers will be able to tune it to the show online through websites that are popular with teenagers, such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, as well as being screened in schools.

The show will initially run for around six to eight episodes, but organisers are hoping it will be a success and will pick sponsors who can keep the soap going.

Other teenagers not directly involved in production will also be able to share their thoughts and learn from the scheme thanks to a series of workshops that will take place in schools across Norwich.

It is one of a number of city projects to benefit from the latest handouts from the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All scheme.

Also announced for the first time today, Norwich's Recreation Road Infant School, in Earlham, was awarded �6,750 to help set up a new sensory garden that will be used by its 315 students, who are aged between four and seven.

Headteacher Serena Dixon said: 'We're really pleased to be able to put this project into motion.'

Elsewhere The Beehive Childcare Group, in Eaton, was awarded �9,900 to refurbish toilets, ARC Artists Group in Yarmouth were awarded �5,510 to run a series of workshops and Stalham Town Council were awarded �10,000 to set up new play facilities for under eights.