Narrated by actor James Corden, the show has become a household hit with CBeebies fans - averaging 218,000 viewers per episode and outperforming the slot average.
The series follows the fortunes of the star of the show Little Charley Bear – who uses his imagination to play and go on adventures with the friends from his toy box. Children join in by asking ‘Are you there Charley Bear?’ at the beginning of each episode and then guessing what Charley is pretending to be. The series has attracted plenty of praise and was a finalist in the 2012 Broadcast Awards ‘best pre-school programme’ category, whilst overseas sales have seen it snapped up by broadcasters across the world.
Valerie Fry, Chapman Entertainment's commercial director, says: "Little Charley Bear is a wonderful show and one that is perfect for pre-schoolers – toddlers love to join in with Charley as he goes off on his adventures and the themes of imagination, creative play and discovery are ones that little children can really relate to.”
The brand has a strong and growing presence in the licensing sector; NPD data positioned Charley as one of the top two new pre-school licences in the whole UK toy market for 2011. The programme is being handled by CPLG and almost 30 partners are in place across a wide range of categories.
Retail support has been strong for branded merchandise, with Tesco, Sainsbury’s and The Entertainer all running successful Little Charley Bear promotions last year, with a range of further activity planned throughout 2012. The brand also has an online presence through a dedicated website and facebook page that offers lots of resources for parents and children, as well as details of licensed products. Visit the sites at www.littlecharleybear.com and www.facebook.com/littlecharleybear.
Licensees include big names such as master toy partner Vivid, which launched its range in 2011 to great acclaim - collecting a BTHA ‘Best New Toys’ Award in the process. An apparel range for Sainsbury’s supplied by Blues Clothing also launched last year and is enjoying strong sales, as are bedding from Zap, nightwear from Aykroyds TDP and books from Penguin. DVDs are also performing very strongly and the fourth title in the series – Charley on Safari – is set for release in May, following the successful February launch of Antarctic Charley.
“Pre-school is a very tough and competitive market, but Little Charley Bear has really made a mark,” adds Fry. “Consumer reaction has been very positive at retail, which in turn encourages more licensees to come on board as the sector reacts to demand. Add in consistently buoyant viewing figures and the future certainly looks bright for this little bear.”