Roubina Tchoboian, Banijay Kids & Family’s Head of Global Licensing, and Gary Milne, Executive Producer for Totally Spies! discuss the upcoming reboot of the iconic series and its developing licensing programme.
GM: First launching in 2002, Totally Spies! hooked a generation of young audiences, with its three powerful lead characters, iconic Y2K aesthetic and smart, funny storytelling. Across six seasons, and a theatrical film, Alex, Clover and Sam, enticed viewers with their adventures, as they navigated teenage life in Beverly Hills, whilst living a double life as secret agents, battling to save the world from a plethora of vengeful villains.
At the beginning of last year, we were ecstatic to announce that the spies were back for an all-new seventh season, and with production nearly wrapped, the show will launch from next year around the world from France on Gulli, to Discovery Kids LatAm, and with Warner Bros. Discovery across EMEA and the U.S..
RT: Since joining Banijay Kids & Family as Head of Global Licensing in the summer, I have been immersing myself in the world of Totally Spies!. This iconic brand has so much to offer audiences beyond the screen. The previous series sold to 220 territories and is available in 60 languages – it’s impossible to overstate the impact of the show around the world! And there is a healthy audience on digital too, with nearly 2 billion views on YouTube alone.
It’s a very unique property with an incredibly wide and diverse fanbase – not only do we have the core 6-9-year-old audience for the new series, but also a passionate existing fanbase of millennials and Gen Z, who loved the show when it originally aired and are eagerly anticipating its return. What is fantastic about the new series, is how it has been lovingly updated for today’s audiences, whilst remaining so very Totally Spies!, and will appeal to both.
GM: I was honoured to be put in charge of developing the seventh season of this iconic show – a series that informed my own love for animation. And whilst there is a loyal fanbase already out there, we knew we needed to make some changes to ensure the series worked for Gen Alpha’s values. From incorporating themes of friendship, the environment, school, and the online world, to ensuring diversity on and off-screen, it was crucial the new series was culturally relevant for today’s audiences. We brought in the brilliant female writing duo Jess Kedward and Kirsty Pear to bring the characters and stories to life, and portray what it is like to be a modern young woman today – which is not the same as it was 20 years ago. Plus we worked with fantastic cultural and disability consultants to ensure we were authentically representing our characters and locations.
One of the biggest changes in the new series is we have taken the girls out of Beverly Hills and transplanted them in an amazing new city: Singapore. The city is a fantastic fusion of beautiful green spaces and high-tech modernity, and by moving the spies away from home, we have taken them out of their comfort zone and this has generated a whole new set of stories.
What you can expect from this seventh series is a brand-new HQ, a fresh crop of funny villains, some new friends, upgraded spy suits and an array of fun and elaborate gadgets, but fear not, at its core, this show is still full off snappy dialogue, witty remarks, gripping storylines, iconic aesthetics and kick-butt action led by three inspirational women.
RT: And as the series gears up for launch, there is strong momentum building in the licensing space, with several products announced already including a PC and console game from the brilliant game developer and publisher, Microids; a deal with Belgian publisher Editions Dupuis for a Webtoon series, which is a really exciting new digital category; and localised magazines and books in France with Bayard. We are looking at Totally Spies! very much as a global brand and are in the process of appointing local agents too.
The show maintains cult popularity and we know there is already significant appetite from fans to engage with the show beyond the series, as well as a new generation of fans to come when the season 7 hits screens.
Currently we are diligently selecting the best partners to work with to ensure every product and experience reflects the values, quality and DNA of the series. With its wide commercial appeal, we have an ambitious strategy for a long-term licensing franchise, across multiple categories including fashion, accessories, gaming, toys, publishing, collectibles, home and experiential. And I for one, cannot wait!