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What on Earth is a TARDISODE?

The BBC Press Office has released details of the 13 60-second mini-episodes that will be available to mobile phone users and trialists of the BBC’s TV Plus system.

These “TARDISODES” – not a medical complaint, I hasten to add – aim to broaden the output of the show and offer the audience an exclusive insight into what’s going on in the Doctor Who universe that week, and will be made available on Saturday evenings following that evening’s episode. What’s more, once downloaded the clips are yours to keep!

The TARDISODES are developed by the team that created the BBC interactive game Attack of the Graske which premiered on Christmas Day following The Christmas Invasion. So far this has an audience of 496,000, averaging 41,000 hits on the BBC’s Official Doctor Who site (which has just been given a makeover with a new splash page!)

Jana Bennett, BBC Director of Television, says of the downloads:

The TARDISODES are an exciting development, delivering mini-episodes which will let viewers access the vortex and explore new worlds before the Doctor arrives himself. We know that there is a huge appetite for Doctor Who and we want to make the whole experience bigger and better for viewers.

The TARDISODES are written by Attack of the Graske writer Gareth Roberts and will include footage that won’t be seen on TV. This includes back stories about the characters and adventures coming up in the next episode – from meeting the Cat Women who can cure all illnesses, joining Mickey as he discovers some alien activity in a local school, to witnessing the Cybermen upgrade process!

Producers of the TARDISODES are Sophie Fante and Jo Pearce; Pearce says:

“Our aim, when planning the development of all these projects, is to make the interactive content around Doctor Who series two compelling, exciting and intriguing as well as enticing a broader audience to Doctor Who by positioning it on different platforms.”

The service kicks off on April 1st – this Saturday – with a single text message “TARDIS” to the BBC on 81010. The text message and network service costs are billed but the BBC doesn’t charge for mobile content.

I asked a techie what the impact of all this is:

ME: So what’s the impact of all of this?

TECHIE: Well, really it depends on your mobile phone. A modern phone with an LCD-derived screen will benefit greatly, whereas a mobile that uses a simple monochrome display won’t be able to display the clips.

ME: And for computer users?

TECHIE: Most surfers have broadband connections these days, so it’s a matter really of ensuring your media players are up to date.

Mr Techie, thank you very much! Good news all round then!

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