×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Beano, Revived and Rebranded for Today’s Kids

A fresh new kids TV studio is making waves in the U.K. and is aiming to gain traction in the hyper-competitive global content market including the U.S.

Beano Studios is based on the U.K.’s longest surviving comic, “The Beano,” which in its 1950s heyday sold 2 million copies. The studio may be new — it was launched in 2016 — but the inspiration behind the venture is venerable.

Owned and published by the same Scottish family, D.C. Thomson, since launching in 1938, “The Beano” has delighted generations of British kids who devoured the comic’s cheeky, somewhat subversive rebelliousness that lampooned school teachers and other authority figures. The stories featured such rebellious characters as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and the Bash Street kids. Today, “The Beano” has undergone a digital makeover. Some veteran characters have been tweaked to make them more inclusive.

One of the most popular new characters from the rebooted “Beano” is Rubi, a gadget-loving girl in a wheelchair. “Her popularity is off the scale because she is a very with-it young girl who is in firm control of what’s going on in the gang,” says Emma Scott, founder and CEO of Beano Studios.

And Dennis still exists, but in his 21st century digital reboot he is a bit of a rascal but not as naughty as he once was. In his American incarnation, to be unveiled later this year, he will even have an American accent.

“Dennis and his friends are mischief makers, but they don’t set out to do any harm, they’re really good to other kids,” Scott says. “They get themselves into scrapes because they like to test the boundaries and take risks. That’s a universal truth about all children.”

Scott stresses that the revamped Beano is a broad digital entertainment platform and has hired digital specialists from a range of backgrounds. They include British pubcasters Channel 4 and BBC News as well as YouTube and Twitter.

Beano.com bowed in fall 2016 and will be given a U.S. launch in the next few months. The site features online games (“Spot ‘The Beano’ characters from their jumpers,” Scott says), videos (“How to draw a pug in 20 seconds”) and listicles (“Explanations for the Bermuda Triangle”) — all fashioned to tempt today’s choice-saturated 6- to 12-year-olds.

Driven by Beano.com, remarkably, the comic’s print sales (around 35,000 a week) have recently grown by 10% in the U.K.

A 52-part animated series, “Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed,” is a hit for U.K. kids’ channel CBBC. The show has been sold across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia and a sale in the U.S. is being targeted.

For parents, part of the appeal of Beano.com is that it offers a safe space in a dangerous online world. The site is COPPA (the U.S. Children’s Online Protection Act) compliant.

“We don’t collect data around individuals or use cookies,” Scott says. “That allows us to work with advertisers. The bar is quite high to be COPPA-compliant, but it is important that we are. Choice is a great thing if you know what you’re looking for. But not if you’re relying on happenstance to find something.”

Crucial to the continued success of Beano.com (more than 1 million users have visited the site) is keeping up with kids’ changing tastes. So-called Trendspotters (a panel of 20 9- to 12-year-olds) are sounded out weekly to find out what’s going down in the playground. This research shows that President Trump is a constant source of fascination.

“When we cover him we get disproportionate traffic,” Scott says. “He comes up a lot in their world in school. In the U.K. they’ve got clear ideas about him, irrespective of social class or where they live. It surprised us and it’s not going away. They worry about him. They don’t understand why he doesn’t like Mexicans. To them, he is a bit of a villain.”

Unlike Dennis, the erstwhile Menace.

More TV

  • Ariana Grande Olivia Munn Michael Che

    Celebrities vs. Critics: Why This Battle Has No Winners (Column)

    When actor Olivia Munn tweeted a “short essay on…ugly behaviors” late Wednesday night, she insisted that a blog had been unfairly maligning her for years. She wrote that she wanted to confront the idea that baseless critiques, particularly those aimed at women, are never okay no matter how famous the target may be. On the [...]

  • ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game in

    ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game Will Pitch Players Into the Action

    “Peaky Blinders” fans will be able to join the gang – virtually – in a new VR game that will allow players to interact with characters from the hit series. Start-up immersive studio Maze Theory teamed with the show’s producers and is making the game, which will launch in 2020. Artificial intelligence technology means characters [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO's 'Deadwood: The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'Deadwood: The Movie' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the trailer for the “Deadwood” film, and CNN announced a premiere date for “Apollo 11.”  DATES The documentary “Apollo 11” from director/producer Todd Douglas Miller will premiere on CNN Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. Using only archival sources, the film captures NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission. FIRST [...]

  • shannon ryan

    Shannon Ryan Joins Disney TV, ABC as Marketing Chief

    Former Fox Television chief marketing officer Shannon Ryan has been tapped as the new president of marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios. The announcement was made by Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, and Craig Hunegs, president of Disney Television Studios, to whom she will report. Rumours had been circling for a while [...]

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content