The New Soap is the second oldest feature on today's A/V Woman website. It first appeared here at 1:43pm on Friday 26th February 1999 (I(4)). Back then there was no menu structure to speak of, just the full script for series one. The series two scripts were subsequently linked to from this page, and as more series came, the scripts were daisy-chain linked together, with quick-links at the top of each page. The content of the scripts was also hyper-texted up, via a link-laden episode synopsis.
The long image to the right, from April 1999 (I(5)), shows the layout of the scripts back then:
After the title comes the hyper-textual synopsis of the page (in this case, series one). This became Anna Ford's recapitulation in the Revised and Recut Edition, with the synopsis for series one being moved to the beginning of Ep.2 (new system).
The next block of text is the cast list for series one, taking the form:
After the cast list (which includes a second paragraph of guest stars), are the links to each episode (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 - old system). All these links are internal to the page except Episode 10 which is the start of the second series. This is followed by an e-mail contact address. Then comes the script, laid out in play-format.
As the New Soap grew, it became impractical to have series one as the first page, and so an episode index was born (circa Summer 1999 - Vol.I). This saw the first Soap-related image, with Stew and Jim alongside a new title, sloped at a Star Wars scrollpast angle.
Initially this index page linked directly to each series script, but this was soon revised, with each series having its own episode index. These episode indexes gave a cast list, a plot-synopsis and a still from each episode in a particular series, and linked to the relevant point in the script. Below, by way of example, is the episode index for the Pilot Episodes (the first three episodes of a now sub-divided series one).
In addition to these episode indexes, there was a new Full Cast List, combining the cast lists from the series scripts into one great big list (with the links operating in the same manner as before).
Up to this point, all the New Soap content, bar the series one script, had been housed at the Commercial Sector site because of an increasing lack of room at the original York site. The series one script remained at the York site because of some dodgy full-address linking that would've made rehousing it a hassle. It was around this time that the Corporate Suite site came on-line to house both an .avi of a scene in series two, and the New Soap Prequels. This arrangement, with the New Soap sprawled across all three web-spaces, persisted until each in turn went off-line.
With the final series (Ep.6 in the new system), came a new look for the New Soap. For the first time there was a proper front page to speak of, linking to a full range of content in excess of the episode guides. The new content consisted of a stripped episode guide (for ease of navigation), and a message board. The front page also had links to the prequels, the first episode and the current series.
By early 2000 (Vol.II), this front page was mirrored on all three sites, albeit with minor variations. The most complete menu was at the increasingly unstable ComSec, with emergency back-ups at York and the Corporate Suite. The final series was housed at all three sites, with the full archive of scripts available on the ComSec and the Corporate Suite.
The menu depicted right is from 30th December 2000 (III(2)), and had changed little over the course of a year.
In February 2000 (II(3)), a sub-menu was set up for the New Soap Movie (TNG). These pages were kept on the increasingly prevalent Corporate Suite. The first thing to arrive was a poster on Friday 11th Feb, followed by the web-site proper a week later.
In addition to the poster, the site contained cast speculation, and eventually the trailer scripts and a review of the movie. The script for the film itself remained off-line, and with the end of the York site, the New Soap pages lived in a state of suspended animation until the end of 2000. In early 2001 (Vol.III) they were taken down as part of the AVW cyber-coppicing programme.
The New Soap pages returned to AVW with the relaunch of the site on Friday 31st August 2001 (III(10)). They were presented in a new "Revised & Recut" format - that is to say, the series, prequels, trailers and movie were recut as eight hour-long episodes. The New Soap pages were essentially started again from scratch, and the character bios and episode guides were dumped, partly because they were integrated into the old system of episode divisions rather than the new set-up. The colour scheme of the scripts was changed from black text on crumpled paper to green text on a black background, and the menus were stripped down to bare text menus in the same colour scheme (with links in gold). The Deleted Scenes index (below) dates from later but uses the Revised & Recut colour scheme. It it presented here as the only surviving example of that period.
At 2:30am on Monday 24th December 2001 (IV(2)), the Revised & Recut version of the New Soap was replaced with the Special Edition DVD version, complete with behind the scenes documentary, director's commentary, full cast list (though no biographies), hyper-linked narrative, original trailer, introduction by the author, and midi theme tune. There was also a brand new episode.
The image-map menu screen (above) was supposed to fill the screen, but somewhere along the lines of making sure it worked on different set-ups, the size got a little twisted, and ended up square instead. An alternative, less graphically intense menu was also developed, featuring an image of Siddor. This one actually DID fit the appropriate dimensions (by accident more than design).
On 23rd April 2002 (IV(6)), a cast and character section was added to the New Soap pages, with a growing list of character biographies and essays. Throughout the year, the formatting of the scripts was improved, opting for a screenplay layout, and highlighting the special edition scenes.
On 24th August (IV(10)), the images and in-depth narration section was initiated, providing the first glimpses of New Soap footage since the new menus. The image below shows the index page, while the longer image, left, shows the Episode 3 summary and screenshots.
February 2003 (V(3)) saw the return of the New Soap Message Boards, this time in an exciting forum system. As a consequence, the image-map menu was getting a little out of date, and so was retired. The Siddor variant (below) was retained as the main index.
On 9th October 2003 (V(11)), an "Episode 0" was tacked onto the front of the story, and inexpertly plumbed into the site.
On 23rd August 2004 (VI(10)), a teaser trailer for "Babysham" was put up, followed on the 4th September by a longer trailer. The "Babysham" series (a NS spin-off) started on 11th September with its own sub-site, and a link was added to the main ANS menu.
Due to space constraints, and the fact that it had been out of date since the arrival of Episode 0, the images and in-depth narration section of the site was taken down on 29th January 2005 (VII(3)).
The New Soap pages continued to be improved, with the cast biographies slowly being added to. ANS X arrived on 8th April 2007 (IX(5)), with its own sub-site, followed likewise by ANS 11 on 31st December 2015 (XVIII(2)). In both cases, the main index page was revised to suit.