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The online version of the TV soap which had nearly 600,000 views in its first week - dwarfing any other web drama series.

E20 is a web only, youth focussed, spin-off from the long lasting UK soap opera Eastenders. It has been written by new writers as part of a push by the BBC to encourage new talent. Although in web terms it is not at all webby - there is no intrinsic reason it shouldn't be on tele - it is interesting for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is actually BETTER than Eastenders. It is funnier and faster paced and has a single story line rather than the leaden mulitiple story structure of a tired old national institution.

Secondly, it is the culmination of a long standing desire within several generations of multi-platform execs within the BBC for there to be a web drama that is tied to a TV soap. It is in a lineage from Wannabes, the BBC's first web teen soap from 2007, through The Cut, a 15 week daily online soap from 2009.

Thirdly, it exemplifies the BBC's unique approach to web drama. The BBC has long had research showing that their audience is ageing and that young teens spend less time watching TV and more time online. Their fear is of not serving this young generation which might have long term consequences for their popularity and role in British society. The BBC's approach to teen media can, simply put, be seen as 'take the media to where the audience are.' This is the rationale behind the creation of Switch which provides media for teens across radio, tv, web and print media. It is also the rationale behind E20.

This means that the fact that a series is aimed at teenagers is justification enough for it to be on the web rather than any question of form or interactivity. This isn't the only factor shaping the BBC's approach to web drama. The corporation adheres to highly stringent readings of child protection policy to prevent the possibility of any harm coming to any young person via one of their sites. This pretty much prevents any form of live social networking or two way communication - arguably the very activities that young people are online for. This means that the elements of community and participation that are central to many web dramas are missing from BBC output. When the web site of the Cut, a web soap aimed at teens, invites you to "blog with us", it means read blogs by members of the cast and crew. When they offer a widget to place the series into a web site labelled "stick it where you like," you can only stick it where they like - the widget only works on BBC approved sites. The BBC creates its own rules and sees the web through a set of heavy filters defined by the constraints of its charter.

Web media and the stages of its evolution fascinate me because the players - the state broadcasters, the global corporations and DIY self-funders - all see a different web. Unlike previous media channels, like cinema, radio and TV, there is neither an obvious business model nor a clear gap for public service provision. Even in 2010, the web is still the wild west where new territory is up for grabs. Here the BBC has fulfilled an ambition to see what happens when you take an established TV drama brand and cross it over onto the web. 600,000 viewers in a week must count as a success, but what I thinks really happened is that for the BBC, the web is another way by which it can renew itself. In letting the multi-platform drama team into the slightly fusty and worn world of Eastenders, the new kids have simply shown that whether its online or as a spin off on BBC3, new talent should be given space to play. Eastenders is dead, long live E20.