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Casualty team tell Robyn’s Story in BBC Taster pilot

Casey Stander

Post Production Coordinator, Casualty

Casualty: Robyn’s Story is a pilot project now live on BBC Taster and created via BBC Connected Studio’s Future of Content programme, where teams from across the BBC are invited to develop innovative digital content ideas around a specific brief. Casey Stander, Production Manager, discusses the creative process - from workshop through development to launch.

The theme for this Connected Studio brief was 'Smartphone Storytelling’, based on giving audiences a starring role in the form of internet-first ideas that look specifically at participation. The successful concept we developed was for The Casualty Storybook project, inviting fans to share in the life of one of the show’s most beloved characters, Nurse Robyn Miller. We have created a social media presence for Robyn, posting content for her across multiple social accounts that audiences can follow and interact with.

 To deliver relevant, topical and character-specific content is a challenge the project team continues to enjoy. In order to weave an engaging story on Robyn’s social media platforms we start by reading scripts and watching upcoming episodes. We use story lines and real-world events, such as the 2016 Olympics, to write and schedule posts as far as eight weeks in advance. This provides the framework of our story telling, which is then nuanced by live posting, commenting and replying out of hours, and during the show’s transmission.

To really capture the attention of fans, we aim to give them a real insight into both Robyn’s life and the life of the Emergency Department. We deliver this by carefully planning photo shoots, filming short videos (from Robyn’s point of view), as well as creating trailers and more formal content such as Q&As.

Each piece of content is painstakingly matched to storylines, and timed to ensure the fans enjoy a constant flow of scoops and behind the scenes action. An excellent example of how this careful planning can translate into doubling followers is the Date Night trailer we filmed and posted to coincide with episode 43 of series 30; Robyn and Glen getting back together was a major peak in our story, and this storyline coincided with the cliff-hanger ending of episode 43. All round this was a fantastic opportunity for us to ride the wave of excitement and enthusiasm generated around the episode.

While planning certainly helps, we have to ensure we are flexible and responsive to our audience. For example, the project team had decided to shoot a series of Holby Olympics videos to post over the show’s summer break. We kicked off with Robyn posting a beautiful photo of the opening ceremony. What we very quickly discovered is that Robyn’s fans were far more interested in watching Casualty than the Olympics – so we changed our plans instantly and filmed a series of short videos focusing on Robyn and her pals instead.

Striking the balance between content directly relating to episodes and content which is personal to Robyn and her friends is something we pay close attention to. The project team works closely with the actors, story producers and script editors to ensure our content is true to the character’s personality – this is absolutely vital. We are Robyn’s voice after all, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

Working as Project Manager on the Casualty Storybook has been a fascinating and unique experience – having the opportunity to interact directly with fans and to lead them along this roller-coaster adventure continues to be rewarding, eye-opening and thrilling. We are far from over though. There is much more to come and it is going to be epic!

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