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“Come on! Cheer up! We've got a busy day ahead! Roads to dig, paving to lay, earth to shift?”
―Bob

The pilot episode of Bob the Builder is a 2 minute and 10 second animated clip which was made to pitch the concept of the series to HiT Entertainment, and was most likely also shown to the BBC. The pilot had early versions of characters (mainy Bob and Scoop), and was really short in length, clocking in at 110 seconds. The video was never seen until it was found on a tape by Essential Pictures, (a unknown company) and was uploaded online on Internet Archive, YouTube, and Google Drive.

Plot

The pilot starts with Bob early one morning exercising in the builders' yard with his vehicle friend named “Digger” (who later became Scoop). They notice the gutter is blocked by an old birds nest, so Bob climbs up the ladder to get it out - and falls off. Luckily for him, Digger manages to catch him- perish the thought if he hadn't.

Behind The Scenes

Development

Bob the Builder was created by artist Keith Chapman in the late 1980s. He got the idea to create Scoop by looking at a JCB digger on a construction site. Soon afterwards all the other machines were created. Then the vehicles needed an owner and Bob was created. Eventually, Keith Chapman brought the project to HiT Entertainment, who developed the plans into a classic series. HiT formed HOT Animation and used stop motion animation for the show. The pilot episode was filmed in 1997 and a development deal was acquired from the BBC. The pilot episode had one set and two characters - Bob and Scoop.

Scoop's name was originally "Digger" in the pilot episode, but was later changed when the show launched. Originally, He had a searchlight on his cab, his eyes were on his windshield, and he also had a red nose. This could be a little similar to JCB's (Scoop's basis) long-running promotional children's toyline, My 1st JCB.

The pilot was produced in May 1997. It was never released on DVD. According to the website, the pilot was about 90 seconds long, despite it really being 130 seconds long. "HIT International required Ealing Animations to produce a 90 second pilot for Bob the Builder to pitch the idea to MIP C.O.M. We had a tight schedule of three months. I could see the idea had a lot of potential, but the script was too long. The script was re-written and production started. The designs for Bob the Builder took some time to crack, but, once they too were finalized, the puppet was made in Bristol by a company called The Puppet Factory. The one vehicle featured was produced and engineered by John Wright, also based in Bristol. He was highly recommended and had done lots of work on the Wallace and Gromit films. The sets, props and animation were done in-house. We delivered the goods and HiT presented their proposal, which was swept up very quickly."

A person talked to the former designer of Bob the Builder, Curtis Jobling, about this pilot and said these things: Bob had very red lips in the pilot, Curtis didn't design it, the pilot was produced in 1997 (1 year before the actual first episode, "Pilchard in a Pickle", was produced), the pilot wasn't very good and nearly got the show cancelled, and Jobling claims he has it, too.

On 22 December 2020, after being sent a copy by the producer, Richard Randolph, the full pilot was found by kingmrharvey and was uploaded to archive.org. It is revealed that Bob and Digger were the only characters in the pilot.

When the show launched, (which was on 12 April 1999 in the UK), the vehicle designs had changed, now having headlight eyes and grill/bumper mouths. Stuart Greenall also voiced Digger in the pilot, though as he was redesigned as Scoop, Rob Rackstraw was cast as the character in the series UK dub, while Alan Marriott took the mantle for the show's US release in 2001. Neil Morrissey, however, retained the role of Bob from the pilot, and still held onto it when the series debuted.

Production

This pilot finished production on 15 May 1997. It was pitched to HiT Entertainment in possibly either late 1997 or early 1998. "HIT International required Ealing Animations to produce a 90 second pilot for Bob the Builder to pitch the idea to MIP C.O.M. We had a tight schedule of three months. I could see the idea had a lot of potential but the script was too long. The Script was re-written and production started. The designs for Bob the Builder took some time to crack, but once they too were finalized, the puppet was made in Bristol by a company called The Puppet Factory. The one vehicle featured was produced and engineered by John Wright, also based in Bristol. He was highly recommended and had done lots of work on the Wallace and Gromit films. The sets, props and animation was done in-house. We delivered the goods and HiT presented their proposal, which was swept up very quickly."

Trivia

  • For some reason, an unrelated picture depicting possible original models for Bob, Scoop (in his original JCB Design for some reason), and Pilchard facing the camera (except for Scoop). This rare picture was discovered by Show Blasters2 On YouTube.
  • The episode was never publicly released until 22 December 2020, when the full pilot was found and uploaded to the Internet Archive, thanks to the producer of the pilot sharing the footage.
  • Digger's persona is closer to Scoop's persona from the Reboot Series than his persona from the Original Series. Likewise, Bob's design was more realistically proportioned, much like the 2015 reboot design.

Goofs

  • The edge of the set is visible in two shots.
  • The shovel in Digger’s bucket seems to appear out of nowhere.

Characters

Cast

Source

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