Bo and the Spirit World is a 10-part BBC fantasy television series about Chinese sisters who are transported into a magical world while on a school trip. They develop super powers and become warriors on a mission to save the planet. 'It's a sort of young Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Spirited Away: a good-versus-evil epic struggle inspired by Chinese mythology and folklore,' explains its creator, Jo Ho, 31. 'I'd love audiences in Hong Kong and on the mainland to view it. That would be something my mother would be very proud of.' Ho was raised in Dagenham, Essex, in England, after her parents moved there from Kowloon. 'Life for my parents in England was tough,' she says. 'They divorced and it was left up to my mother to raise me and my brother. 'I'm very proud of her for managing as well as she did in a strange country where she didn't speak the language very well and had no family around to help.' In order to complete university, Ho had to work to supplement her income. 'Thank God for student loans and grants or I'd never have made it through,' she says. Ho's work ethic and determination were tested again when she decided to become a writer. 'At the time I was working in production on low-budget independent films for 16 to 18 hours a day on rubbish pay. I began teaching myself scriptwriting by learning from my favourite TV series, The West Wing. I locked myself in my bedroom for a few months and I watched every episode of season one, eight times. Then I read each of the scripts eight times [eight being a lucky number]. 'I went through a depressed phase but I still wrote daily on the train to and from work, in the evenings and at weekends. After a few years, I realised this would be my life if I didn't take a big risk. I raised money to direct and produce my first short film. Then, two months later, I won funding to direct my second.' During that time, she travelled to Los Angeles for meetings and classes on a scheme run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Film and Television School. Still in her day job, she had to use all her annual holiday to attend. 'It was insane,' she recalls. 'I was getting up at 4am in LA because the animators were in New Zealand and Belgium and my editor was in Singapore. I'd work until 9am then go to meetings and classes all day and often in the evening.' Far from exhausting her, the challenge built Ho's energy and determination. 'I was so inspired by the people I met,' Ho says. 'I sold my flat and lived on the small profit from the sale for 18 months. I knew I had to become established as a working writer or else ... well, I didn't have a back-up plan, so it's lucky that Bo was given the green light.' This month, Ho appeared on the shortlist for the Big Ben Award (for the 10 most-outstanding young Chinese people in Britain), the results of which will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on May 9.