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Tuesday, 20 April, 1999, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Bob cements his TV success
Bob the Builder with Scoop the Digger and Pilchard the Cat
The Teletubbies are the undisputed rulers of children's TV - but the groovy aliens may soon face a challenge from a new kid on the block.

Bob the Builder and his friends Scoop the Digger and Dizzy the Cement Mixer made their debuts on BBC One last week and a second series has already been commissioned.

The 10-minute programme for pre-school children stars the cheerful and trustworthy Bob going about his business helped by his talking vehicles.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "I'm anticipating Bob the Builder to be a big hit. So far we have had a phenomenal response and people have been so enthusiastic."

Neil Morrissey: The voice of Bob the Builder
Bob, who is voiced by Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey, has become popular in the construction industry, which is fed up with the negative stereotypes of bulging bottoms and bad language.

"Bob will be to building what Postman Pat is to the Royal Mail, a decent bloke doing a decent job," reported the industry journal Construction News.

The reliable and conscientious Bob has the catchphrase "Can we build it?" to which children watching the show at home reply "Yes we can!".

Bob has even been adopted as a mascot during this month's Construction Week and will be popping up all around the country giving hands-on demonstrations of bricklaying.

The show is made by the production company HOT Entertainment with the rights owned by its parent company HIT Entertainment. Already around 120 licensed Bob the Builder products are in the shops and selling well.

The spin-offs include special outfits, talking toys, playhouses and cakes. Publishing rights to Bob the Builder are owned by BBC Worldwide and a series of books and a magazine have just been launched.

The Teletubbies lead the way in successful TV programming for pre-school children
But showing Bob how to make a real success of it are the Teletubbies. Since their debut in 1997 they have grown into a massive children's TV phenomenon. The show is broadcast in more than 80 countries and was most recently taken up by Japan where it is expected to be hugely successful.

The series made BBC Worldwide 23m last year, although Ragdoll Productions - the show's creator - held on to its own licensing agreements in the Americas.

But it is unlikely that Bob will be able to beat the Teletubbies latest success - the furry four have been included in the Millennium Dome exhibition as an example of some of the best of British innovation in the late 20th century.

See also:

15 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Teletubbies say 'konnichi wa'
24 Mar 99 | The Company File
Teletubbies declare war
20 Apr 99 | UK
Everything under the dome
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