Media Lab Helsinki


Accidental Lovers

Accidental Lovers – Sydän kierroksella

Hybrid of mobile phone messaging chat and black comedy series for television and broadband media

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:

Executive Producer Ari Kivimäki ari.kivimaki aT

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

Mika “Lumi” Tuomola (director, scriptwriter & concept designer)

Leena Saarinen (scriptwriter & concept designer)

Both are listed on the Crucible Studio web site’s People section.

“I believe in lunatic love.”

Accidental Lovers is an interactive, dark musical TV-comedy. It explores variations of a love relationship between 61-year-old cabaret singer Juulia (Kristiina Elstelä) and 30 years younger pop star Roope (Lorenz Backman).

Viewers are able to affect the unfolding drama, encouraging, or spoiling, a possible love affair between the two unlikely lovers by sending mobile text messages to the broadcast. On television screen, viewers see their text messages and hear the characters respond to their texts. A glowing heart shows whether the audience messages are warming or cooling the hearts of the romantic couple, and viewers see the relationship develop according to their comments and discussion.

The concept is inspired by ancient Greek tragedy performances that discussed the base values of the Athenians, who participated in as the commenting chorus of the tragedy (Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy).

Please see the Introduction video to Accidental Lovers at

Many ‘cycles of love’ are broadcasted in a row, creating a cyclical dramaturgical structure comparable to films Lola rentt (1998, dir. Tom Tykwer) and Groundhog Day (1993, dir. Harold Ramis). The experimental production democratizes television as the mass medium by taking the audience in and reflecting their thoughts by the means of comedy and absurd.

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 (Finland has a population of 5,3 million), 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.

The peak audience groups were 20+ men and 60+ women, which fulfilled the goal of the artistic research core team to break the generation and genre gap and bring them together for interaction by new media.

As a piloting production of new type of interactive drama genre for television Accidental Lovers has discovered a fluent organisation of media elements in order to create a satisfying narrative experience. It has formulated an effective rhetoric for keyword triggered dialogue while ensuring a rewarding user-experience for text-message-based interaction where both individuals and viewers as community will have an effect on the story. Original cinematic style that unites linear, episodic, cyclical and associative dramaturgies was developed for this new genre.

The Accidental Lovers concept won the CyberPitch award in the Banff International Television Festival 2003 and is now the first university production to be nominated for the Banff 2007 World Television Awards within its twenty-eight years of famed history.

The technical components were developed in European research project nm2 (new millennium, new media). “Realisation Engine” holds a detailed representation of the Accidental Lovers story world as defined by the production team. It continuously analyses viewers’ text messages and automatically directs the mood and pace of the narrative, choosing how the video, audio and graphics layers should be assembled, delivering these as a continuous stream of instructions to the playout system built on PubliTronic Indigo hardware. Text messages are moderated and processed using a Text Message Moderation tool, which is linked to a dynamic model of the drama’s narrative structure.


The production is part of the EU 6th framework IST project new media, new millennium (nm2) practice-based research and development project running from 2004 to 2007. See the website for research related information and publications.

Accidental Lovers has received script-writing support from AVEK, The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, Finland, and development funding from the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, Canada, as well as research and production funding from the EU 6th framework IST programme nm2 and the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle.


Image credits and captions for the Accidental Lovers press images:


Photo by Heikki Niiranen

Accidental Lovers’ concept developers: director Mika Lumi Tuomola, editor Minna Nurminen and script-writer Leena Saarinen.


Photo by Heli Sorjonen, graphics by Pontus Vepsäläinen

Juulia’s (Kristiina Elstelä) and Roope’s (Lorenz Backman) wedding ceremony with Laura (from left: Mia Renwall), Maarit (Minna Rimpilä) and Jatta (Riitta Elstelä) in Accidental Lovers (dir. Mika Lumi Tuomola, Crucible Studio / University of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland 2006).

Interface texts are:

(On top bar:)

Your message gives a thought for Juulia or Roope and affects the big heart.

(On the lower bar:)

Text to Juulia & Roope to number 17239. Start message with S [space]. Price 0,95 €

(On the bottom, a text message from a television viewer:)

Love is eternal, Juulia. But the objects of it change…


Photo by Heli Sorjonen, graphics by Pontus Vepsäläinen

Juulia (Kristiina Elstelä) and Roope (Lorenz Backman) in Accidental Lovers (dir. Mika Lumi Tuomola, Crucible Studio / University of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland 2006).

Interface texts are:

(On top bar:)

Your message gives a thought for Juulia or Roope and affects the big heart.

(On the lower bar:)

Text to Juulia & Roope to number 17239. Start message with S [space]. Price 0,95 €

(On the bottom, a text message from a television viewer:)

Go for it! You will die too, you crazy Roope!


Accidental Lovers story structure.

The countless variations of each 28-minute episode are made possible by a media database that is responsive to keywords in text messages. About 80 video scenes and 850 voice-overs are further regulated by a computer program that understands, for example, plot continuity, rhythm and mood.



Kristiina Elstelä …Juulia Kuvaja

Lorenz Backman …Roope Vuori

Riitta Elstelä …Jatta & J.T.

Minna Rimpilä …Maarit

Mia Renwall …Laura

Remu Aaltonen …Rokki-Rane

Jyrki Kovaleff …Roskis-Rane

Pörhö …Pörhö

Directed by Mika Tuomola

Script & created by Leena Saarinen & Mika Tuomola

Camera team

Juha Leskelä …Cinematography

Mari Sinkkanen …Camera assistant

Niina Mattus …Camera assistant

Juha Saikkonen …lights

Petri Setälä …lights

Esko Viitala …lights

Esa Pohjolainen …lights

Film editing by Minna Nurminen

Produced by

Paavo Häikiö …Producer/Crucible Studio

Juhani Tenhunen …Executive Producer/Crucible Studio

Leena Tomminen …Producer/YLE

Inari Uusimäki …Producer/YLE

Kari Kyrönseppä …Excecutive producer/YLE

Jarmo Eskelinen …Executive producer/Lume

Samppa Murtomäki …Executive producer/Lume

Ari Kivimäki …Executive Producer/Lume

Production management

Helena Hyvärinen …Production manager

Tiia Eskelinen …Production assistant

Satu Jääskeläinen …Script supervisor

Sound team

Paul Jyrälä, M.P.S.E., C.A.S. …Sound designer

Miia Nevalainen …Sound editor

Joonas Jyrälä …Interactive sound designer

Simo Jantunen …Trainee

Tiina Juntunen …Trainee

Timo Rantalainen …Sound recordist

Sakari Virkki …Sound recordist

Music by

Anna-Mari Kähärä …Composer/arrangements

Jussi Tuurna …Composer/arrangements

Marzi Nyman …Musician

Marko Timonen …Musician

Pekka Lehti …Musician

Tuure Koski …Musician

Markku Veijonsuo …Musician

Teemu Mattson …Musician

Maija Vilkkumaa …Lyricist

Costumes by

Niina Pasanen …Costume designer

Marita Vehkaoja …Costumer

Anna Kankaanpää …Costumer

Makeup by

Päivi Kela … principal makeup artist

Guy Hellström …makeup artist

Eeva Saarinen …makeup artist

Tarja Nylander …makeup artist

Set by

Heikki Leikola …Set designer

Susanna Lavonen Set decorator

Kimmo Turunen …Set design supervisor

Kari Yläajos …Set construction manager

Heikki Salmela …Set construction

Timo Ojanperä …Set construction

Esko Kares …Set construction

Heimo Lepistö …Set construction

Timo Löppönen …Set construction

Rauno Arjoranta …Set construction

Minna Kunnasluoto …Set assistance

Tiina Vanhola …Set assistance

Marita Pirttimaa …Props

Other team members

Riia Mustonen …Director’s assistant & storyboard

Pontus Vepsäläinen …Graphic designer

Heli Sorjonen …Still photography

Robert Ahonius …Usability researcher

Petri Kola …Interaction consultant

Kebede Mergia …Documentary

Toni Tolin …Studio manager /Lume

Risto Salo …Production Manager /YLE

Heli Loukomies …Catering

NM2 technical team

Topias Marttila … Technical coordinator

Juhani Kantola / Taik

Veli-Matti Koskenkorva / Taik

Peter Stollenmayer / Eurescom

Doug Williams / BT Group

Ian Kegel / BT Group

Tim Stevens / BT Group

Jon Cook / University of London Goldsmiths College

Vilmos Zsombori / University of London Goldsmiths College

Alberto Muñoz Gallego / Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo S.A

Isabel Alonso / Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo S.A

Michael Hausenblas / Joanneum Research

Martin Umgeher / Joanneum Research

Harry Fluks / TNO

Script Comments

Tove Idström

Riikka Pelo

Thank you

Maarit Kiprianoff / ravintola Milenka

Mediakeskus Lume Hannu Forsback, Birgitta Rosti, Tarja Peltoniemi, Samppa Murtomäki ja Raine Heikkinen.

Daniel Lindholm

Ilmalan vesitormi / Erkki Ranta

Merihaka Oy

Jussi Topinoja

Helsingin kaupungin rakennusvirasto

Leena Viitanen


Press images