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August 2003
Stupid web stuff
Rob
Rob Manuel (Photo by Weebl)
"Hello. I like making stupid web stuff. Here's some of it…"
You may not know his name but you will have seen his work. We spoke to Rob Manuel about B3ta, kittens and writing a hit record for Victoria Beckham.
SEE ALSO

Stupid web stuff:
page 1

Stupid web stuff:
page 2

Stupid web stuff:
page 3

Competition Index

ROB MANUEL
He's created stupid web stuff for: MTV, the BBC, last minute.com, SoTV, Endemol, Channel 4, Cake...
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
LINKS

Please note:
Rob's sense of humour "hasn't moved on since the playground." - please click with caution.

A fast internet connection may be needed to view his work.

SONGS:

Elephant

I love you (kitten)

The singing kitten

Drink

ADVERTS etc

Pete and Dud

Disco Squirrels

Robots Love Their Mummys Too

B3ta collaborators:

Denise Wilton

Cal Henderson

www.b3ta.co.uk is Rob's personal archive.

www.b3ta.com is a collaborative site.

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Hello, how are you?
I'm very well thank you. I'm showered, awake and ready for an exciting new day.

The Singing Kitten
The Singing Kitten - Rob Manuel

You grew up in Wolverhampton and lived there until you were 23? Tell us about it...
I'm very fond of Wolverhampton, and defend it to it's many mockers, but I wouldn't really want to live there myself these days. There isn't much opportunity for interesting work in the area.

Which part of Wolverhampton?
I grew up on a dividing line between Finchfield and Castlecroft. As befits the stereotype of the west side of an industrial town, it's all leafy suburbia really, brass door knockers and people washing their cars on a Sunday.

Favourite area?
Valley Park Railway is a disused railway track that pretty much travels from Wombourne to Wolverhampton town centre. It's stunningly beautiful and I spent much of my childhood cycling up and down it. The canal is wonderful too, particularly idyllic in the winter when the snow falls on the frozen water.

A good and a bad W-ton memory?
Hmm. I joined Zip - a local theatre group one summer and we did a production called "Wolverhampton - The Musical." It was utterly ridiculous but amused the hell out of me. Bad? I guess that would be drunken townees shouting "Oi! Ginger!" every day as I wandered about town.

Education?
Smestow Comprehensive School. Not a bad school at all. I was quite proud to get consistent D's in P.E for 5 years running.

What part has Wolverhampton played in your rise to superstardom?
Er... I think you're confusing me with someone else from Wolverhampton. Are you sure this question wasn't meant for Jass Mann of Babylon Zoo?

Do you feel growing up in W-ton shaped your sense of humour?
Totally. My sense of humour hasn't moved on since the playground. I still find "you're gay" jokes funny.

I love Kittens
I Love Kittens - Rob Manuel

Do you still have family in the area? What did your parents do? What did they do to you to make you love kittens?
My mum lives in Ironbridge these days. In a lovely little cottage next to the river. She works for the V.A.T and hasn't seen any of the web stuff that I do. I've tried explaining it but she gets a bit glassy eyed.

Kittens? Er.. there was always cats about the house when I grew up. Both my mum and dad were big fans so I got a double genetic dose of kitten love. I've got a cat now called Rocky - because he's a fighter.

What do your family think of your work?

They don't really know about it. I've tried to explain but they don't really get it.

Tell us about something traumatic that happened to you
.
I once went to Amsterdam and got a bit paranoid after sampling some of the local fun. I tried to find somewhere safe to chill out in. Wandered into a building saying "Exhibition" - turned out it was a sales conference of people from Dorset selling caravan holidays to the Dutch.

Please list a few of your previous jobs? How did you get to where you are now?
I've watered plants, been a barman, and framed pictures. But then back in about '95 I decided I wanted to learn how to make a website and in response to the BSE crisis I set up a site called "Cow Liberation Front".

I was stunned when journalists started phoning me up asking for my opinions on cows. I realised that I knew nothing about cows, but I clearly knew something about websites. So I closed down the site and got myself a job at a web agency working for clients such as Greenpeace.

I worked making client sites for a few years, and then realised I was bored so I started perusing a few personal projects. I met the guy who ran Popbitch, who thought I was onto something and gave me a lot of encouragement. He then got me a job working on "special projects" at Emap. We put together a little team, me, a designer called Denise Wilton and a programmer called Cal Henderson. And we started B3ta.

Emap didn't think it was right for them, so we took it away and carried on under our own steam. This was about 2 years ago and the site has grown from strength to strength.

Rob
"I thought I would end up a member of Duran Duran." - (Photo by Weebl)

Did you expect you'd be doing this?
No, not really. I thought I would end up a member of Duran Duran. Can't think why that never happened.

Why move to London?
Work. Pure and simple. There is a lot more work available in the web field in London. And you get the chance to work with bigger clients, rather than making a site for the local pie shop.

Click here for page two>>

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