What suggested social networking might work for casting?
Fifty-thousand people emailed to be on Shipwrecked at the end of the last series. This site was very easy to launch because we were able to email those 50,000 people back and say: ‘Look, if you want to be on the show, create a profile,’ and people have come to it.
And it’s grown from there?
It’s turning into more than just a website for casting Shipwrecked. We’ll have [that] cast by the beginning of December. What we are now realizing is that there is a community there [to whom] we can offer other things. It is going to be a fame website, really… We are talking to other producers about the possibility of them guaranteeing to regularly audition people from the site.
Will this idea work for all factual shows?
I think we are going to keep the demographic to where it is, which is 18 to 25. We don’t want it to become a general casting website. It would lose what people like about it, which is that ability to be in a social group with people like themselves. I think if you started using it as a casting website for Wife Swap, for instance, it would dilute what’s interesting about it.
How have you fine-tuned the site since its launch?
People now have the ability to start creating ‘tribes.’ They can talk to everybody in their group. That’s building more of a sense of this being a place to hang out and make friends. It’s a very friendly site compared to a lot of social network sites, because everyone wants to be rated by everyone else. With MySpace everyone says it’s like going into a bar – everyone is a little cool – whereas this is like going into a party, where everyone rushes up to you and says: ‘Hi, can I be your friend?’