The fairy tale from cistern to cinema started when the 55-year-old was fitting three bathrooms in the home of record producer and poet Paul Conneally.
Paul noticed his bathroom fitter had a good voice as he sang along to the radio. The two men got talking – during lockdown Paul had launched a record label – Reality Records – and Kev wrote and produced his 1980s-influenced debut album Why Can’t I Be You?
Kev recorded the eight tracks in a studio built in the basement of his home – a former butcher’s shop in Quorn, near Loughborough, Leicestershire – where he lives with his wife Karen, a holistic therapist. He learned to mix by watching YouTube videos.
As a teenager Kev was in a band Reprise and gigged and did a day job until he was 30 – giving up music because he had not made it.
“I thought ‘I have tried and it has not worked out’,” he said. “I recorded the album just to say that I had done it and completed it after all these years.”
Paul, 62, told Kev to send him the album. “I sent it digitally on the Friday and thought if he doesn’t like it I will just go back to work and thought nothing more of it,” said Kev.
“On Monday Paul took me into his office and said ‘I like it and I like you. How do you fancy putting it out on my record label?’ He were are 25 years later and I was working away, singing away, the window was open, and the neighbours told Paul I had a good voice.”
Paul said: “Kev sent me some songs and I was blown away by his songwriting and his attention to detail in producing a sound that is so 80s but so now at the same time.”
The media loved Kev and Paul’s story. It was featured in British newspapers, radio and television – and went global.
The Washington Post picked it up and Kev also appeared on Drew’s News – actress Drew Barrymore’s US TV show.
Kev also came to the notice of Stacy Sherman and Billy Ray, who wrote The Hunger Games and he signed a deal with them to tell his and Paul’s story
A script – called the Music Inside – has been written by British sitcom and film writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais – the duo were responsible for classic comedies including The Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
“It’s like I’m watching this happen to someone else. Not for one minute did I think this could happen to me.
“I’ve had some sleepless nights thinking about this whole story – the record deal and now the film. It’s so exciting. We grew up watching shows like Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet along with films like The Commitments, so it feels unreal to be now working with the creators of those and having Zoom calls with them in LA and to think it’s our story that they’re working on,” he said.
“Growing up, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was my favourite programme and now I am talking to the writers – it’s bizarre.”
Kev grew up in Long Eaton, near Derby, with dad Bill, a plasterer, mum Linda, an upholstery machinest and sister Sharon, a teaching assistant.
He left school with a GSCE in English and went to work into Long Eaton’s main industry – an upholstery factory.
“I thought that would be my life,” said Kev who has children from his first marriage and has grandchildren.
During the 2008 financial crash the factory went bust and Kev found himself on the dole.
He did a plumbing course at Castle College in Nottingham and after a year set up his own business.
As he waits for the film to be cast, made and released, it is back to the day job as a plumber and working on his autobiography called, of course, Ballcocks and Pipes.