'B&B' Boss Bradley Bell on Keeping Romance Alive Under New Production Rules
The Baby Beth is Really Alive storyline on Bold and the Beautiful from last year propelled the half-hour soap to the top of the ratings in the coveted women 18-49 demo. It also won the show Emmy gold. At the 47th annual daytime awards show in June, showrunner Bradley Bell and his team took home their fifth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series Writing.
TV Insider chatted with Bell about his win, how the “slow burn” can still be the best approach when it comes to storytelling, and what’s next for the Forresters, Spencers, and Logans now that B&B has returned to production following the hiatus it took because of the coronavirus. Read on to get the scoop from B&B’s head honcho!
Congratulations! How did it feel to win the Daytime Emmy for Drama Series Writing?
Bradley Bell: Thank you. It was so exciting! It was so exciting; I never expect [to win] so it’s makes it all the more thrilling when you hear your name. I go into it thinking that we won’t get the win, but we did and it was spectacular. I want to thank…the whole cast. They all amaze me every day. And I want to thank the whole production team. They’re just spectacular.
What episodes were on the winning reel?
We submitted two episodes — the first one being Hope (Annika Noelle) losing her child, or believing that she had lost her child on Catalina island. For the second, we fast-forward eight months or so and the act paid off — Hope discovers that baby Beth is alive on the rooftop of Forrester Creations, aka the TV City studios!
Fans kept saying we want this over, but it paid off both in the ratings and now at the Daytime Emmys.
Yeah. I have to really pay tribute to my father [the late William J. Bell, creator of both B&B and Young and the Restless] for this one. He loved nothing more than having a secret and getting the fans to the edge of their seats, to a point of frustration and meltdown. “This is going on so long!” But you read the passion in what they write in their comments. That’s what it’s all about. Their passion is saying, “I can’t take this anymore! This is ridiculous!”
If you read between the lines, you have people are who totally engaged in the story. That gives you all the more reason to keep it interesting and find new adventures and involve other characters, taking the story to new levels. I think it was the perfect amount of time for a secret to be kept and then revealed. Historically, that’s what the genre is all about.
Can you speak to Annika’s performance? Once she showed she could cry, she was given a lot of crying scenes!
Annika is such a pure and honest actress. Her emotion and everything she does comes from a place very deep within her. She becomes Hope. There’s such truth in her performances. I feel so fortunate to work with such a talented actress and a deeply reflective and committed person. She’s just been spectacular since day one and she gets better and better. I’m looking forward to the next storyline for Hope.
Can you talk about having Douglas (Henry Joseph Samiri) be the one to first bring it to light that Beth was alive? “Out of the mouths of babes.”
We were thinking how would this secret be discovered? We went through the cast list and thought how great it would be if it were this character or that one who would reveal the truth. We have a great young actor in Henry. He was spectacular in this story. It’s always great to pick someone that people aren’t expecting, yet someone who is also totally wrapped up in the drama. I had a few other people in mind prior to him, but we were certain Henry would deliver. As you say, “Out of the mouths of babes.” There’s nothing purer, honest and touching then when a child does something.
Hope and Liam (Scott Clifton) tied the knot in not only a symbolic ceremony but also a legitimate one. Can you talk about giving that duo some stability, for now at least?
It’s important to ground couples after they’ve been through the ups and downs and have been pulled apart. Their hearts have been ripped open and stomped on. Now, it’s important for [Hope and Liam] to experience happiness and joy. We’ve paid it off and shown they’ve reached a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope and Liam have found their happiness and joy. They’ve earned a moment’s peace. It’s important to play that – before the next cycle [of conflict] happens.
Once the truth came out about Beth, that story opened up for so many other characters – Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) and Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) were in conflict over their children. Plus, Katie (Heather Tom) developed a kidney issue, which helped redeem her niece Flo (Katrina Bowden), who knew Beth was alive.
It’s great when you come across that plot point where your story is working and you want to get everyone involved. How can we get Flo [more] into this? How can we get Brooke into this? How will this affect all the characters on the show? This is one of those stories in which all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit. It just kept growing and growing. We had great performances by everyone in the cast.
Congratulations on getting back into production. Can you talk about moving forward? Will the coronavirus be used as a device to keep characters apart – something viewers are used to seeing?
We’re really trying to highlight at this time family and intimacy, love and connection at a time when the world is disconnected through social-distancing. While we’re social distancing on stage, we’re using all our resources with our writers, actors, and directors to create a place where there is no social distancing – where love and family is still functioning fully.
You have a new leading man coming on for Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood). How will that affect her?
We have a great story coming up for Jacqui. Steffy has been committed to her work, her daughter Kelly…but people have been wondering when a new man will enter her life. He’s coming. She’ll have a period of time where, in fact, quite a few men will be after her – as they should be. She’s spectacular and unique. I’m thrilled to say that this next chapter will be very much about Steffy. I always feel comfortable putting drama in the hands of Jacqui Wood.
Bold and the Beautiful, Weekdays, CBS