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Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

New interactive BBC documentary stars Exeter academic

A ground breaking interactive BBC documentary series exploring some of the biggest questions facing mankind about its past, present and future features expert commentary from University of Exeter religion scholar Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou.

TheStory of Now’ series uses the latest video technology to enable viewers to explore films and hear from 20 experts about some of the world’s fundamental issues from religion, to politics, creation to consciousness.

Hollywood star, Idris Elba presents the series on the BBC’s new online platform for trying out digital content and emerging technology. The ability for viewers to search inside the films on the BBC Taster site by clicking on parts of the content makes the experience different from anything the BBC presently has on offer. The interactive videos seek to answer the questions such as what makes us able to communicate, why the sky is blue and how the universe began. The answer to some of these challenging questions will be guided by experts, including Professor of Ancient Religion Francesca Stavrakopoulou, social activist Naomi Klein and neuroscientist Dr Molly Crockett.

‘Why did we start believing in God and whose god should we believe in now?’ is explored by Professor Stavrakopoulou in one of the 20 interactive videos. Professor Stavrakopoulou said:“It was a real honour to be asked to contribute to this fantastic series. It was a challenge to distil my thoughts about why and how the notion of a monotheistic god emerged - and why it’s so problematic for the contemporary world - into a short film. But I’m delighted with the results.”

She added:“The film encourages viewers to follow their own particular interests by exploring a range of online material embedded within the site – it’s a great educational tool, encouraging further engagement, tailored to the interests of the individual. And as an academic, I love the fact it combines research, teaching and learning in a new way.”

Through this pilot series the BBC want to look at what levels of interaction works best. Producer TouchCast has used interactive video technology it has developed that allows anything from the web – including video, games, web pages and live social content – to be experienced by the audience inside HD video and puts the viewing experience in their hands. The Story of Now taster series also enables the BBC to experiment with interactivity on a high end, specialist factual production.

Date: 2 February 2015

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