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BBC drama tells story on TV and the Internet

Thursday, January 11, 2001

By Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The story line of the BBC series "Attachments" unfolds on two screens -- the TV and the computer monitor. Pegged by the network as a pioneering "convergent drama," "Attachments" is a fictional show with a real, constantly changing Web site. Developments on the series are mirrored and expanded upon in a lively, irreverent Web site created by the show's characters. It will be updated weekly as episodes air.



When: The first two episodes air tonight at 9:30 on BBC America.

Starring: Justin Pierre


"Attachments" has been running in Britain and makes its U.S. debut tonight on BBC America. The show centers on the lives of a caffeinated crew of young Web site developers and entrepreneurs who are trying to launch a hip Web site called seethru, which is designed to be a filter for the best of the Web. In the first episode, the tech staff is scrambling to get the site up and running while the owners scramble for funding, since the startup money is already gone.

Site owner Mike Fisher (played by Justin Pierre) is a former musician and DJ who ran a site out of his house and has decided to make it a career. He's an idealist -- someone who respects what's good about the Web but doesn't like seeing it becoming too commercialized. His wife and business partner, Luce (Claudia Harrison), has the more practical business sense and is in the process of quitting her publishing job to join seethru full time as the series starts. The cast is rounded out by site designer Jake (David Walliams) and programmers/ coders Reece (William Beck) and Brandon (Iddo Goldberg) -- the former an obnoxious prankster and sexist, the latter a painfully shy computer geek. Sophie (Amanda Ryan) is a former journalist who has found true freedom of speech as the site's content manager and writer. Incoming episodes, viewers may recognize Andrew Sachs, who played the inept waiter Manuel on "Fawlty Towers," in a serious role as Jake's father.

Both site and show are adult in content. The British site contains plenty of references to sex and drug use. On the show, one character unwinds by skateboarding nude in the office. The preview tapes BBC sent out were of the British version of the show. The American version will be modified with minor editing for the U.S. market.

The seethru Web site's main appeal is its unlimited supply of attitude and wit. The American version -- www.bbcamerica.com/ seethru -- starts at the beginning with the original version of the character Mike's Web site. For those who want to look ahead and see how the British site has evolved, go to: www.seethru.co. uk.

The Web site is devoted to topics of interest to its target 20-something plugged-in audience: music, drugs, life and Web stuff. Viewers can send e-mails and post messages in varied discussion forums.

The music section includes a weekly roundup of the staff's picks for best pop, alternative and dance, with MP3 and/or Real Audio links. There are links to favorite Web sites, along with snide commentary, in the "Web" section.

One of the best sections on the British site is "Rants," with the slogan "Don't get even -- get mad." This is the place where seethru staffers and others vent their spleen on a range of issues.

The "Drugs" section offers a kind of consumers' guide to various substances, such as: "Amphetamines: effects, history and famous users," a "bad trip guide" and information on "your rights and the police." Along with a disclaimer saying the site's owners don't advocate recreational drug use in this manifesto: "The reason we have a drug section is simple: You can't get this information anywhere else. ... Just say know."

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