Accidental Lovers

Accidental Lovers is a participatory black comedy about love for TV where Juulia (cabaret singer and photographer, 61) and Roope (rockstar, 30) explore alternative love relationships.

Viewers can affect the unfolding drama by sending mobile messages to a system that triggers on-screen events based on the keyword recognition. Active viewers can participate drama and have an effect as individuals for triggering a single thought (voiceover audio clip) for either one of the main characters. Viewers as community then determine the outcome of the story (selections of video scenes) as the keyword data cumulates during the broadcast.

Accidental Lovers premiered on the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE Channel 1 as a mini series of 4 episodes on each Wednesday and Friday evening between Dec. 27, 2006 – Jan. 5, 2007. Altogether 12 different love stories were created, based on the mobile text message discussion that the participating audience had during the shows.

Cumulatively Accidental Lovers reached over 1 million television viewers, who sent about 3 000 text messages to the show: advices to the characters, opinions about them, comments about love and even their own alternate fantasy scenes. Some broadcasts had over 100 000 viewers simultaneously watching and participating in the dark musical carnival of love and death. Peak audience groups were 20+ men and 60+ women, which indicates that the show successfully broke the generation and genre gap and bring them together for interaction by new media.

The concept and script is originated and written by Leena Saarinen and Mika Tuomola. Editor Minna Nurminen has also higly influenced to the concept during the development work. Its is co-production of Crucible Studio and YLE drama department. Technology is developed in NM2 EC project.

The nm2 project has been concluded, but if you are interested in the Accidental Lovers production and/or its international dissemination, please use the current main contacts:

In expert matters relating to the production and its practice-based research, please contact:

Juulia's not-so-crowded-performance. Photo by Riia Mustonen.

Note: This page is scriptwriter's unofficial introduction to the production.

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Fragments / Diary

More visibility

Nov. 2007

Presenting YLE, Accidental Lovers will showcase in Input 2008, Joburg, South Africa. "Input (International Public Television) is an annual weeklong showcase where the rules of broadcasting are challenged and redefined. Now celebrating its 30th year, this event is the only global showcase that focuses specifically on innovative programmes produced in the public interest."


We were also in Scénaristes en Séries conf. in Aix-les-Bains, France talking about the production. And, using iChat, I presented remotely in Interactive Futures, in Vancouver.

Returning to Banff

18 Apr. 2007

Accidental Lovers (Sydän kierroksella) is a nominee in the 2007 Banff World Television Awards, category: Interactive Program Enhancement. Winner TBA June 2007. You'll meet at least some of us on location :)

And here is a link to 9 min. introduction video about the concept and story.


7 Jan 2007

Lorenz, Kristiina and Riitta improvise business negotiations for the commercial transaction scene. Photo by Leena Saarinen.

All four broadcasts on YLE TV1 totalling 12 different story versions are now done. Everything went well and first impressions are that the audience welcomed this new genre too. Typical comment would be something along the lines "Accidental Lovers is kind of strange, odd show, but there is something intriguing that hooked me". Statistics support this too, those that tuned in stayed tuned till the end. The demographic is about 50-50 men-women. Happily the production has increased the typical level of involvement in 45+ women. So we got involved a new target group in interactive/chat-Television programming.

I am especially happy about how great textmessages the audience sent to the program. There was only a small handful of "nonsense" messages or questionable content. Almost all messages we got were totally about the drama themes and characters – thoughts love and relationships, advice to and comments about Roope and Juulia. And what was really funny is that many people were writing their own fantasy scenes of what happens to the characters. It was great!

 However, there are things left for further development. The system is not yet optimal in creating as much variety as it could. Within our 12 broadcasted stories there are three video scenes that were not broadcasted at all (including one of my personal favourites) and some were broadcasted many times so there was unnecessary information. Situation is even worse with the voiceover lines. We have so much material that there could not have been happening any repetition but many of the voiceovers were heard many times and really many got never broadcasted. This has to do with both the system design and metadata authoring & other content design aspects. Someone give us money to continue this work!

Software, Hardware, Headwear

 22 Dec 2006

We had few intense days of technical modifications and bug fixing. Tim and Jon even made new tools for us:

Those help us to better to monitor the narrative during the broadcast and help avoid getting two similar plots in a row, which turned out to be irritating experience for the participators in our audience test.

The gear in the previous posting is child's game. Now we have added some super computer mirroring the Realisation Engine, 2nd moderator pc, 3rd for browsing all incoming messages and "some box" between the Indigo and 10MB fibre to YLE. All almost set for the broadcast.

Not to mention of surviving the huge workload, we even survived the Accidental Lovers party last Saturday:


Gala kiss. Lore and Krisse just love to do that. Nobody is paying them for it anymore. Photo by Heikki Niiranen.

The Gear

14 Nov 2006

Uiah cellar is full of tech. gear at the moment. (Yes, x-mas season will smoothly flow uderground. No need to organze festive activities this year :)
In the image:

Outside of the image:

Narrative Tests

18 Oct 2006

Jon, Mika, Tim, Ian and Bona are having a discussion about the Heart. Photo by Leena Saarinen.

The week of narrative testing and usabilitys tests is going on as I write this. In terms of narrative and metadata all looks pretty good, I must happily say. At the moment we are having too many happy plot variations in comparison to more miserable options but that is just about tweaking the algorithms. Finally we can see our ideas in full action and it feels really great.

On tecnical side we are almost there too. There are some synch. problems but those are being solved as I write this.


17 Oct 2006

Pörhö yawns, summer 2006. Photo by Leena Saarinen.

I want to introduce and give praise to Pörhö who is doing magnificient acting job as Juulia's cat in accidental Lovers. This one-eyed Greek emmigrant might steal the show totally. No actor followed director's instructions as well as Pörhö did. He is a natural talent. Even Kristiina calls him our leading star.

What are Juulia and Roope in comparison to a cat? Mere mortals with only one life. But hey! That is not quite how it goes in AL...

Sydän kierroksella – that's the name

12 Oct 2006

The final deadline to decide about the final Finnish name for Accidental Lovers approached quickly and the whole team was tossing in name ideas. It was difficult because the original idea Vahinkolaukauksia was so dear to most of us and has been in use since the very beginning of the project. But it turned out in our inofficial gallups that although the name is not bad at all, it does not describe the drama content very well. After couple of weeks of tossing and turning the production team came to a decision that the name of the show will be Sydän kierroksella. Huge cheers to Anu Pohjanraito who originated the idea for this name. The English name continues to be Accidental Lovers. (Sydän kierroksella translates approx. Heart on Cycle, or, Heart Around as Mika suggested.)

Leena and Mika shake hands to seal the decision about the new name. Photo by Juhani Tenhunen.

Broadcast times, YLE1 channel, Finland:

Sneak peek /Aug 2006

Juulia and the three fates in "Poikkisahattu nainen" (”Die zersägte Dame” by Friedrich Hollaender, Finnish transalation by Vesa Tapio Valo). Photo by Leena Saarinen.

The music video bits of Accidental Lovers will be presented in "Lovers Loop" installation in Ars Electronica Campus Exhibition 31.8.- 5.9. together with more than 30 other Media Lab works. See

Also, it has been decided that the full interactive production will premiere on YLE 1 during the Christmas season 2006. There are still lots of technical tweaking and testing to do during the fall but we are optimistic that everything will be fine tuned to best possible outcome by December 2006.

Snippets, May 2006

Set in the Mediacentre LUME studios, fall 2005.

Metafun, March 2006

Postproduction is going nicely content wise, edits are now going to sound designers Paul Jyrälä Ltd. The rest of us are getting very technical when writing and defining metadata for all the elements (62 video files and approx. 1000 voiceover files, UI elements etc.) It is just like Janet Murray wrote: the authors of new media do not write only the story but also the rules according to which the story may unfold. Many of the metadata elements here require authorial decisions: what are the moods of the characters, which of them can speak in particular time slots of the video, where in the story line can certain bits appear and what can follow, what particular keywords trigger what particular lines etc.

Meanwhile lead actors are pursuing other productions – in prime time, no less. Lorenz is hosting Huuma (based on 'Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway') and Kristiina is competing in Tanssii tähtien kanssa (Strictly Come Dancing) where she created big cheers after the first episode. Thumps up that she'll continue her dancing success. Will viewers send text messages to Accidental Lovers about these other shows?

Kristiina in Tabloids – "Kristiina's dancing has passion and fervour" Iltasanomat 12. March 2006

Postproduction, Feb 2006

Editing and fine-tuning, technical development and interaction modelling going on all spring. I am currently writing new voiceover lines and keywords. It is interesting phenomena in digital productions like Accidental Lovers that the scriptwriter is working hard even in the post production phase.

Production, Dec 2005

Kristiina Elstelä getting in the mood on the Set. Photo by Leena Saarinen.

Last week of shooting in December 2005. There are many external scenes but Helsinkin is not very wintery nowadays. While hoping for a white city for Wednesday, the bar "NoName"scenes on Monday were warm and colourful.

Also the screenwriters Leena and Mika appeared in front of camera and inspired this christmas card. Photo by Kebede Mergia.

Production, Oct 2005

The picknick scene. Photo by Kebede Mergia.

2nd shooting period in October: ambitious set was built in Mediacentre LUME film studio containing both main characters' apartments and corridor. Music videos were shot in TV-sudio and external locations in Helsinki. One more week of shooting coming up in December.


Sonnet 130. Photo by Kebede Mergia.

The story includes total of seven music videos which are the dramatical turning points in the comedy. Music is composed and arranged by Jussi Tuurna and Anna-Mari Kähärä. Maija Vilkkumaa translated some of the lyrics from original english poems.


Plot strucuture flow chart.

Notable effort is and has been the techical meta-data design, authoring tools and all tecnical details that need to be developed to test and run the system. Broadcast player in on the way and being tested in spring 2006.

first week of shooting, June 2005

All external summer scenes were shot in June 2005. Remu promised a good weather, and because even sun seems to be in his charge, we were indeed very lucky with the weather despite that all the nightmarish forecasts that preceeded the week.

Love ceremony in Tervasaari. Photo by Leena Saarinen.


Charaters have lip-synch only on music videos, the rest is voiceovers. First set of dialogue was recorded to try out what kind of reciting styles work best as interactive responses to textmessages, and on top of random video image.

Krisse and Lore recording voiceovers. Photo by Riia Mustonen.

from idea to the actual work

Funding was secured during 2004 for both the production from EC and YLE, and Leena got reserch funding from Academy of Finland. At the same time the script was developed at slower phase, the fist version was finnished Nov. 2004, and it was further developed 'till spring 2005 while testing the interactivity and randomness throughout the writing process using various available methods from 'paper and scissors" to simple software simulations.

the beginning

Leena & Mika got the idea during one of their self-help conversations about personal ailments in loverelationship. "Why not share these stories that make us laugh and cry and want to kill certain post-attractive persons?"

Mika, Leena and Elukka recieving the cyberpitch award from jury member Catherine Warren and chair Sara Diamond at the Banff television festival 2003.

"The winning show Accidental Lovers pushes the limits of artistic and business models for a new kind of interactive entertainment," said Bell Fund Board Member and CyberPitch jurist Catherine Warren. "We gave the Bell Fund prize to this creative team for their imagination and audacity in creating a romantic comedy that unites love, death and musical improvisation with live audience participation between cell phones and TV."

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Sydän kierroksella

Sydän kierroksella on vuorovaikutteinen musikaalikomedia rakkaudesta, jossa Juulia (61-vuotias kabareelaulaja) ja Roope (30-vuotias rokkitähti) kohtaavat toisensa erilaisissa rakkaussuhteiden variaatiossa.

Katsojat voivat vaikuttaa tarinan kulkuun lähettämällä tekstiviestejä, jotka viestistä tunnistettavien avainsanojen perusteella aiheuttavat päähenkilössä jonkin tietyn ajatuksen. Tekstiviestien ja avainsanatietojen karttuessa henkilöiden kohtalo ja tarina muuttuu.

Teos on tällä hetkellä jälkituotantontovaiheessa ja esitetään loppuvuodesta 2006. Se on Crucible Studion ja YLE:n draamaosaston yhteistuotanto. Teknologiaa kehitetään NM2-projektin puitteissa.

Sydän kierroksella -konseptin on keksinyt ja käsikirjoittanut Leena Saarinen ja Mika Tuomola ja sen saattamisessa esityskuntoon on keskeisenä suunnittelijana toiminut myös Minna Nurminen.

Lähetysajat, YLE TV1:

Rooleissa / Cast

Remu, Mia, Riitta, Minna & Kristiina. Photo by Kebede Mergia.

Lisätietoja /more

Pörhö - maailman paras kissanäyttelijä.