Emma Scott realises that she doesn’t want to swap TV for teaching – and finds that Zoom helps her to succeed in Hollywood
It’s the end of an era. The country is slowly easing out of lockdown. Against the odds, we’ve delivered a show to the BBC and become surprising best mates with the Bank of England, and I’m leaving the Beano for new adventures.
Our brilliant Beano team adapted to lockdown at lightning speed, despite some becoming quite poorly with Covid-19 symptoms. We mobilised everyone to work from home early and we’ve kept all content production across TV, digital and the comic on track. Endless innovation, creativity and cheer has shone through.
At home, my two teenage daughters somewhat reluctantly adjusted to me being around a lot more. Funnily enough, I quickly discovered I was never destined to be a teacher. Home schooling is officially a nightmare. Give me working in telly any day.
Mark Talbot has powered away. He joined us from Hat Trick Productions to head up our teen/young adult slate based on the comic archive.
In March, he told me that you can’t do a writer’s room by Zoom. “Rubbish,” I said, and then, of course, he totally nailed it: the Beanoverse came alive.
Suddenly, writers are at even more of a premium, but you can get the attention of directors and on-screen talent because they’re not stuck on a set. As a result, our projects now have additional quality creative talent attached.
Pitching our slate to Hollywood executives via Zoom wasn’t part of the plan.
I soon discovered that all pretence and poker face go out the window on Zoom.
We’ve encountered many LA-based kids, cats, dogs and a truly disastrous exploding coffee cup. Not forgetting the behind-the-scenes hysteria in my home and total bans on streaming anything in case it messed with the wi-fi.
These glitches and travails of tech have, ironically, brought levity, warmth and greater acceptance. After all, we are all in this together.
And did I mention it? We even managed to sell two shows.
Over on the kids’ side of the business, I’ve seen the sheer ingenuity and hard graft that go into keeping our production of Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! on schedule for CBBC this month. Beano Studios producers Tim Searle, Karina Stanford-Smith and Louise Condie, along with the BBC’s Jo Allen, have created a really fun, witty show.
Working with our fantastic animation producers, Jellyfish, they have kept the show on track. Before lockdown Jellyfish managed to move a team of 250, including 57 artists and 30 animators, to work from home. Their work is outstanding.
We are on air in mid-July. I could not be happier that we’re delivering a dose of much-needed joy and laughs to kids and families.
During lockdown, the power of the revitalised Beano brand reached new heights. The comic production line kept going and delivered each week, just as it did in the Second World War.
My most delightful and bizarre lockdown moment was being quoted alongside Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, on the front page of the Financial Times.
We had been working with the bank to produce Beano-inspired learning materials to help kids better understand money.
The launch was brought forward to help teachers with home learning. The press exploded with joy at the prospect of Dennis and Minnie helping kids to understand interest rates.
A skill we all may need in the coming months and years.…
And then, amid all the madness, I decided it was time for me to leave Beano Studios.
After five and half years, I want to do something new.
Taking an old and iconic comic and turning it into a digital-first entertainment business has been a rollercoaster ride. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.
I will be cheering from the sidelines, looking out for the commissions, while lying down in a darkened room for a little while.
Emma Scott is the outgoing CEO of Beano Studios.