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Pilot ended 1st August 2021
Earworm trailer
When Ayesha tries on some vintage headphones, she can suddenly hear people's theme songs. The song of their soul. That includes her best friend, Cleo, but her song is super creepy. Does that mean Cleo can’t be trusted?
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The Inside Story

Earworm was created by Jasmine Richards as part of Alternarratives, a Nesta led programme to help writers explore innovation in short-form storytelling. Nesta are collaborating with BBC Taster to help test the experiences - please view, rate and give us your feedback above.

Can you sum up Earworm?

Ayesha can hear people’s soul songs because of a creature called the earworm which has embedded itself in her ear. This story is Ayesha’s testimony of what happened next but Earworm is keen to interrupt and disrupt. We wanted to create an immersive reading experience that used sound, music, words and illustrations to create a feeling of mystery and unease.

How did you approach the creative process?

We started by really thinking about the readership. Teenagers listen to over 25hrs of music per week and spend more than 35hrs on a screen. They are on their devices a lot – we wanted to take our story to where they were. Story is story where ever you find it and not just within the pages of a book. We wanted to create content that excites and invites all back into reading. Storytelling that includes music provides an entry point.

How is this different to what you normally do?

As an author, I normally write alone and in a very linear process. This was a very collaborative process, and there was a lot of testing of reiterating as we went along – especially when it came to the soundscape of the story. My partner on this project is an expert in video and illustration but there was a learning curve in terms of building something in Unity. There was a lot of thought about how to leave space in the story for music, sound and illustrations to create a mood and bolster the power of the words on the page.

Who made it?

Jasmine Richards is an author of over 15 books for children and founder of Storymix an incubator and producer of children’s series with inclusive casts of characters.

Nunulanka Studio is run by the versatile and creative video artist/director Nurbanu who fuses a background in animation, illustration and documentary filmmaking.

More about Alternarratives

Nesta ran an open call for bold, creative ideas that explore new ways to tell a story and push the boundary of how we consume literature and engage 13-16 year olds with reading. This was a chance for writers to consider the future of storytelling and make use of new technologies or formats.

Nesta provided nine creators with bursaries and bespoke support to make their ideas a reality - now we need your help to pick a winner. BBC Taster and Nesta are asking the public to test, rate and provide feedback on the live projects.

Anyone can view them and have your say on who wins, but we’re specifically encouraging 13-16 year olds to tell us how they engaged with the works. We will view the public feedback with an expert panel to help select the final winner.

Find out more about the programme.