Soap Opera Digest: I was so excited to see the show back on the air. I’m sure you were, too.
Bradley Bell: It’s been quite a road to get back in production.
Digest: I loved how you started it with Carter and Katie and made a reference as though you were talking about the pandemic but it really was about the boutique. It worked so well.
Bell: Good. Yeah, we wanted to kind of give a nod to what’s going on currently and then catch everyone up. I think it was a good episode. And now on with the show.
Digest: First of all, how has everything been going?
Bell: Things have been going well. Everyone is enthusiastic and optimistic. In the daytime world, everyone is in go, go, go mode, and to put everything on pause for a while was, of course, necessary but difficult. Once we got the green light from SAG-AFTRA and from California, we were ready to go. We had the scripts, we had the shows blocked. We were just hot out of the starting gate.
Digest: You’re one of the only shows to be in continuous production. Have you felt like you are leading the way and showing other shows how it could be done?
Bell: Well, it does feel like we’re on the forefront of the return to production. It’s been a major learning curve for us going ahead, knowing that it’s all about safety. Safety is paramount. If anything doesn’t feel safe, we will shut down, but so far we have a great team of consultants, healthcare officials that are working with us, and we’re feeling very good about the future and about continuing production.
Digest: I would imagine that there are certain departments now that have to work in a different way. Is there any one that you can speak to specifically?
Bell: I would say that more than anyone it affects the actors. They have to create a feeling of intimacy while remaining across the sets from one another. The actors, along with the directors and the cameramen and our incredible crew. You know, really now more than ever, we’re in the business of making magic and illusion to have these scenes look intimate and tug at your heartstrings, when in fact, very often the actors may be alone in the sets. We’re filming sometimes one at a time with body doubles and dolls. It’s really a challenge for the actors and they’ve been rising to the occasion like they always do.
Digest: Has it made the production days longer?
Bell: Well, we’ve simplified the scripts a bit. You’ll see more scenes with just two people. We’re very focused on getting in and shooting quickly and getting out without compromising quality. The production days are about the same. We’re also very aware of the crew and hair and makeup and everyone onstage who are wearing masks, and in some cases, shields that can be uncomfortable after wearing them hour after hour. We’re really focused on speed along with quality.
Digest: You aired quite a preview at the end of the first episode back to tease what’s coming ahead. It’s definitely more than you’ve given away in the past. What was the thinking behind that?
Bell: Well, we want to create some buzz with our return. We’ve been doing a lot of publicity, showing a bit more in terms of previews than we normally would. These are extraordinary times and we want to engage our audience and have them return and be enthusiastic about the show again. They’ve been amazing. Daytime fans are the best in the world. We want them to know that fresh material is here and it’s coming.
Digest: Let’s start with the thing that shocked me the most: Ridge and Shauna are married. What does that reveal do to the Brooke/Ridge/Shauna dynamic?
Bell: Well, it will be a blow to Brooke when Ridge comes back from Las Vegas married. Bill Spencer has always been a thorn in Ridge’s side, and the latest interaction Bill had with Brooke felt like the final straw to Ridge. He ran off impetuously to Las Vegas with Shauna. Las Vegas, being the town that it is of impulse and desire, he comes back married. Ridge is a man who sticks to his commitment. He takes it seriously. He’s torn between two women and we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Digest: Prior to this it looked like Brooke and Ridge were going to get back together. It’s going to be a big blow to Brooke. How will she take it?
Bell: She loves Ridge. They have a child together. They’re committed to one another. They’ve battled to overcome obstacles for 30 years. And here they are, confronted with Shauna. Shauna has never been married before and now she’s found Ridge and she’s never met a man quite like him. She’s interested in making this work. Of course, her dear friend Quinn also is interested in making this work because Quinn and Brooke have never quite seen eye to eye. Quinn would like nothing more than to get rid of Brooke and have her dear friend Shauna with Ridge.
Digest: You’ve hired Tanner Novlan to play a new character named Finn. What was it about him that made him right for the role, and how will he factor into Steffy’s story?
Bell: Well, Tanner is playing a young doctor, John Finnegan, and he goes by Finn. He really looks after Steffy after her motorcycle accident and is immediately taken by her. People have been wanting someone new in the mix. Steffy needs a new man, and a new man has arrived. Tanner Novlan is an incredible actor. This character, I think, is going to be a great breath of fresh air and will add to Liam and Hope and Steffy and the whole mix. He will be a great addition to the cast.
Digest: It looks like we’re going to see Steffy have some struggles in the wake of the accident that she’s keeping to herself. Are we going to see a dramatic arc for Jacqueline MacInnes Wood?
Bell: We will. I’m very excited to watch the story arc with her. She will have a big battle ahead. Jacqui’s delivered such amazing performances throughout the years and I’m excited to challenge her with this next story.
Digest: Carter and Zoe are heating up. I think Carter finally getting a love interest is going to be a happy surprise for the audience. What can you say about those two?
Bell: Yes. Lawrence Saint-Victor [Carter] is a great talent and a great actor. Kiara [Barnes, Zoe] came to the show and proved to be a multidimensional actress with the baby Beth story. It’s great to launch into another chapter with Zoe and to have Carter in the mix. We also have Zende who is joining the show, Delon de Metz, who is an exciting actor. We’re building a great core group to tell some drama.
Digest: Any chance we will see Nicole or any of the other Avants return to the screen?
Bell: Absolutely. We can see Nicole, Maya…. We love the Avant family. They will be making appearances throughout the fall.
Digest: Will the much-discussed Forrester boutique be shown?
Bell: Yes, absolutely. We have a great Forrester boutique set. We have a great business storyline coming up, especially now with Zende in the mix. We have some great story which will include all things Forrester.
Digest: Now that Bill is responsible for Steffy’s accident, where does this leave him as a character and with his relationship with Ridge?
Bell: Well, the whole rivalry is flaring up again. They went from dislike to disdain and now they can’t stand one another. Ridge, especially, he’s had it with Bill. We’re going to see a great rivalry continue to unfold with Bill and Ridge, and Steffy will be right in the middle of it.
Digest: Any message you have for the fans of what they can expect in the months ahead?
Bell: I’m so grateful to the fans for continuing to stay loyal to BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL. We’ve got some great drama ahead, all of the fan favorites and some new faces and exciting drama. We’re continuing to deliver what I think will be one of the best years in the show’s history.