Beano character Calamity James has been reimagined in a new BBC live action slapstick comedy starring Guilt’s Mark Bonnar and newcomer Dylan Blore.

Newly created for adults who grew up with the iconic magazine, the darkly comic short film follows the story of a young man, James (Dylan Blore), who is cursed with ‘acute misfortune syndrome’.

After years apart, he tries to reconnect with his deadbeat dad (Mark Bonnar) after being thrown out by his mum for setting fire to their house at a family barbeque.

Commissioned by the BBC for its Comedy Shorts strand, the film is the first production for Dundee/London production company Emanata Studios and streams on iPlayer from this Friday and will screen on BBC Three in coming months.

READ MORE: 'Queen of rock 'n' roll' Tina Turner dies aged 83

Co-funded by Screen Scotland, the 14-minute short film takes inspiration from the Calamity James comic strip, which first appeared in the Beano in 1986, but it’s a very different character to the one that features in the magazine every week.

Gone are the buck teeth and pet lemming, and instead we find James as a young man, patiently suffering disasters at every turn. 

James is played by Dylan Blore, a young Scottish actor based in Glasgow, known for Empire of Light (2022), The Hunt for Raoul Moat (2023) and Crime (2021).

The film (shot in Portobello near Edinburgh, Eyemouth, and Livingston) opens in the maternity room with James being born and his father immediately dropping the boy, setting off a lifetime of calamitous events.

This reinterpretation of Calamity James is the creation of Edinburgh-based writer-director Louis Paxton, whose previous work includes BBC Three comedy/drama Ladybaby and BBC One’s Shetland.

Mark Talbot, Chief Creative Officer for Emanata Studios, said: “It’s been fascinating to take a character like James, who causes chaos in Beano every week and think, ‘What if he were 20? What would he be like, what would his life as the unluckiest boy in the world have been like, how can we expand him to be a real person?’

“Marvel and DC do this all the time. You see it with characters like Batman – you’ve got the Robert Pattinson Batman but you’ve got Teen Titans as well. Ultimately this is a comedy for adults that honours its comic strip origins.  

“What we’ve got with the Calamity James short we’ve made for the BBC is a really good proof of concept, that we can take the vast trove of ideas, characters and stories that are in the archives and make something new. Calamity James in the short is still recognizably the character from the comic - it sits alongside the comic character - but it is its own separate thing, existing in its own world as well.”