Portsmouth airs UK's first online soap

'Chalkhill Lives' hits the screens

Monday saw the launch of the UK's first online soap - Chalkhill Lives.

The programme is "starring, written, and produced by Portsmouth residents of all ages", and has lofty ambitions of "working with disadvantaged individuals to help improve their self confidence, self-esteem, communication and literacy skills".

The literacy bit is certainly a sound proposal. The soap is set in Paulsgrove - an area which saw anti-paedophile riots in 1999 during which dictionary-starved and enraged mobs attacked a paediatrician.

The programme - which is supported by the Prince's Trust - is the brainchild of Steve Surridge. It's currently financed by cast and crew who pay a £45 annual entry fee plus £60 a month.

And very good it is too. You'll need a broadband connection, QuickTime and a bit of patience to wait a couple of minutes while the programme buffers, but it's certainly worth a look.

According to the press release, the project has failed to match the criteria necessary for government funding. Accordingly, the makers are inviting on-screen sponsorship. If you fancy supporting this interesting initiative, you can see episodes one and two here. The next episode is scheduled for Monday 15 March. ®

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