Keith Chapman -
Hobby Builds a Fortune!

Name: Keith Chapman.

Nationality: British.

Age: 42yrs.

'Foolish' Idea: Making a character out of a JCB digger by drawing a pair of eyes on it and calling it Scoop. Creating further building site mechanical stars, Muck the digger, Roley the steam roller and Dizzy the cement mixer. To keep the machines in order, a character called Bob.

Start-up Capital: Nominal - the cost of sending the idea off to production companies.

How Idea was Launched:

The BBC commissioned 13 episodes which went on air in April 1999.

Sales: TV programme sold to 108 countries by the end of 2000.

Earnings: Not known, but by 2000 he had bought a £1million house, 2 cars and was paying for private education for his eldest son.

Keith Chapman used to sit up at night working as a cartoonist and by day working as an advertising art director. His wife, Kirsty, had given up work to have their family - she was a textiles buyer - and Keith had to work at both jobs to make ends meet. In his words, Keith explains he had been slogging for a long time and had received dozens of rejection slips before he got lucky with Bob the Builder.

He first scribbled Bob on his dining room table. He says, 'I didn't do it for the money - it's my hobby and I thought it would be a nice bonus if I made anything.'

Keith reckons he's the world's worst builder, but the idea first came to him seeing a JCB digger on a building site near his home in South-West London. With a pair of eyes drawn on it, he thought it would make a popular character, and Scoop was born. Muck the digger, Roley the steam roller and Dizzy the cement mixer followed.

Keith began weaving Bob into the stories when he became a father in 1988, inventing bedtime stories for his children, William, now thirteen, Ben, eleven and Bertie, seven. He believes telling stories to his boys helped him to develop the ideas. Their reactions were an excellent guide to creating strong stories that children enjoyed - they were like his own private market research team.

In 1996 he approached production companies. HIT entertainment snapped the idea up. They made subtle changes to Bob's appearance and character - they got rid of a moustache and made him younger. And Bob's sidekick, Wendy was added.

The BBC commissioned thirteen episodes, which went on air in April 1999. Since then Bob the Builder's catchphrase, 'Can we fix it? Yes we can!' is heard all over the world. By the end of 2,000 one hundred and eight countries were broadcasting the series. The voice of the popular actor, Neil Morrissey of Men Behaving Badly fame, has been Bob the Builder's voice for the TV series and also for records.

Christmas 2,000 the first record released, 'Can We Fix It?' a pop version of the show's theme tune reached No. 1 in the Pop Charts. In September 2001, Bob the Builder's second record, 'Mambo' reached No. 1 in the Pop Charts. This time the song was a remake of a previous smash hit, but with changed lyrics.

Pilchard the blue-coloured cat is another newer character in Bob the Builder series and three hundred Bob toys and merchandise were developed for sale. By the end of 2001 Bob the Builder was still a firm favourite with children all over the world, showing no signs of a waning popularity.

Keith went from having to work day and night to make ends meet to making millions all from an idea born out of seeing a building site near his home.

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