BUS STOP 39: Norfolk's internet soap opera
Involving young people in providing regular episodes was only part of the challenge – a new type of flexible and interactive website was also needed. Strong publicity and promotion were essential too to meet the expectations of a demanding and e-savvy teenage audience.
Bus Stop 39: still deserted
The Garage performing arts trust, Norwich, took on the development of the project and the initiators were extremely lucky to be able to appoint a highly experienced TV script writer, Lilie Ferrari, to work with the young people on developing the drama. Lilie's background writing for high profile TV dramas in the United Kingdom such as EastEnders and Casualty added to the project's status.
Five Norfolk schools, including a special school, became involved and with Lilie's professional guidance they created and steered the lives of the main characters.
Lilie Ferrari, TV script writer: supervising the school production and writing teams
These main characters included a girl in foster care, a trainee footballer, a public school boy, a girl from a Portuguese immigrant family and a boy with special needs. If the writing teams had any worries that a focus upon local authority services would prove limiting, they soon disappeared.
As Lilie Ferrari explained at the outset: Every entry in the A-Z of council services – from Abandoned Cars to Zebra Crossings – offers dramatic potential. For some, such as the Fire Service, it's very easy, but for others it will take just a little bit of creative thought and imagination from my school production teams.
To strengthen the link to local authorities and their services, another device was used – a further character, Aunty Blurb, who would comment upon the goings on in each episode, giving advice and providing links to the council's own websites.
For example, Aunty Blurb gives advice on how to find your local councillor, and explains the role of local authorities in looking after children who cannot stay with their families.
However, Auntie Blurb also gives answers - in Aunty Blurb Peer Support - to vital questions in the live of youngsters, e.g. concerning abuse, bullying, friends and relationships.