While freelancing as an agency art director in the early 1990s, Chapman worked on his own creations, eventually showing them to Peter Orton, executive chairman of HIT Entertainment. One of the properties Chapman had produced was Bob the Builder, and Orton, sensing potential in the character, acquired the intellectual property rights and created a television show based on the property. The deal saw Chapman retain a share of the copyright and also a contractual clause which sees his name appear on all merchandise related to the character.
Bob the Builder was produced at Manchester's HOT Animation Studio, with Curtis Jobling's unmistakable character and world designs helping propel the character, and the show, onto a global audience. The show became a huge success, generating around £1 billion in international retail sales. Chapman decided to invest his share of the profits in setting up his own television production and rights ownership company, Chapman Entertainment, stating his belief that "the closer involvement of creative talent can get more out of a property over the longer term".
In 2005 Chapman launched Fifi and the Flowertots. The development of this series was initially to be financed by Universal Studios, but the company pulled out of its deal with Chapman Enterprises following restructuring. This saw Chapman seek private equity investors, in the shape of wealthy individuals, and sell a minority stake in the company to raise the necessary funds.
- Carter, Meg (April 28, 2005). "Bob the Builder's gaffer prepares to unleash Fifi on world's tots". The Guardian.
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