Art mimics life in everyday story of internet business by This Life team
The future of the BBC: special report by Janine Gibson, Media correspondent
The Guardian Friday March 24, 2000
Confirmation that the internet start-up is the hippest career decision of the moment came yesterday when the producers of the celebrated series This Life announced their next project will be set in the world of the net entrepreneurs.
Where the cult BBC2 show about a group of thrusting young lawyers sharing a house focused on their messy relationships, drug consumption and frenzied socialising, its successor concentrates on the professional lives of the next generation.
With a working title of dot com, the multimillion-pound series will feature a group of 20- and 30-somethings trying to launch an internet start-up company. It will track their efforts to raise finance, generate new ideas to produce their dream website and become fabulously wealthy.
Any similarities to the recent story of the millions garnered by the young entrepreneurs Martha Lane-Fox and Brent Hoberman when they floated their lastminute.com business are purely coincidental, according to the BBC, which has commissioned the series.
A spokesman said dot com had been in development in strict secrecy for over a year and was not inspired by the rash of internet launches.
World Productions, run by Tony Garnett, one of the nation’s leading drama producers, will film the 20-part series this summer. Mr Garnett, who refused to make a third series of This Life despite its popularity and the pleas of the BBC, is notoriously unwilling to talk about his projects. He was abroad yesterday and refused to comment on the commission. His programmes, though, are known for their controversial characters and storylines. The Cops, his last BBC 2 series, opened with footage of a policewoman taking drugs in a nightclub, while This Life featured explicit sex scenes and drug taking.
Jane Root, the channel’s controller, said dot com was one of the first programmes she commissioned on taking over the channel last year and described it as “surprising and inventive”, adding “aspects of it are like nothing that has been seen before on British television”.
A team of writers, including This Life veterans Amelia Bullmore and Richard Zajdlic, are working on the drama. It will feature an ensemble cast of unknowns.
Despite the lack of bankable stars on screen, dot com is believed to be one of BBC2’s biggest commissions. The BBC refused to comment on budgets, but a contemporary drama series of this scale would generally cost around £8m.