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BBC launches blackmail viral to promote 'Psychoville'

LONDON - Digital agency Ralph has created a customisable video viral to promote 'Psychoville' -- the forthcoming BBC comedy-thriller penned by two of the writers behind cult comedy 'League of Gentlemen'.

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The viral, which enables users to seemingly broadcast their friends' darkest secrets on a digital billboard at London's Piccadilly Circus, promotes the seven-part series written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.

The show transmits on BBC Two on Thursday June 11, and the promotion ties into the BBC's 'The Graham Norton Show'.

The viral is entitled 'Psychoville -- Secrets Revealed, Expose your friends' darkest secrets on the Graham Norton show' and is in keeping with the dark tone of the series.

Through it users can enter a name and email address, upload a photograph of a friend and enter a 100 character-long description of their friend's "darkest secret". It can then be previewed before hitting send.

The recipient will be treated to a clip of Graham Norton on his chat show explaining that an internet virus is loose that exposes people's secrets.

The studio action cuts to Norton's computer screen, where an image of the sender's friend wearing an S&M gimp mask is displayed.

The final shot is of the digital screens at Piccadilly Circus, where three of the huge billboards are displaying the friends' picture, name, and darkest secret.

'Psychoville' was written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith and will introduce viewers to six eccentric characters, all of whom are being blackmailed by a mysterious black-gloved stranger.

The series is being supported heavily online -- the BBC has created a raft of web activity, including video and interactive comedy related to the show.

Followers of the TV serial will be able to find out more about its plot by interacting with the content across a number of dedicated websites. They will receive questions from the blackmailer and must scour the websites for answers.

Chris Hassell, Ralph's creative director, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our interactive agency to work together with BBC Multiplatform and Vision Production on a dark, horror-influenced comedy journey.

"Video virals are becoming an ever more popular way of communicating messages as they are extremely impactive.

"Our virals continue to use the latest technology that offers viewers the chance to get to grips with the drama and engage with the characters from their favourite films and programmes."

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