Bob the Builder backlash as TV character goes digital

14 October 2014

The UK public has taken to Twitter to voice its outrage at the decision to “reboot” the nation’s favourite cartoon construction worker, Bob The Builder.

The new series, produced by US toy maker Mattel, following its acquisiton of HIT Entertainment in 2012, claims to retain “the emotional warmth that has always given Bob the Builder a firm place in the hearts of young viewers”.  

It will also see Harry Potter actor Lee Ingleby take over from Neil Morrissey to voice Bob, while Downton Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt will play Bob’s building partner Wendy.

The old Bob

Episodes will feature state of the art technology to reflect the modern builder, including a tablet computer to store Bob's designs. 

For the new series, the decision was made to remodel the CGI characters to more closely resemble real people.  

Bob’s business partner Wendy – previously his office manager and head of admin – now has a more hands-on role as an electrician, while a new character Leo, has been introduced. He’s a young apprentice, “eager to learn about the world of building” but who “has a short attention span and is easily distracted, which can often lead to problems that range from minor mishaps to complete and total chaos”.

The revamp of the Bafta award-winning cartoon, which has been broadcast in over 175 territories and translated into 40 languages, has received mostly negative feedback in tweets reported on the MailOnline, and the Independent and the Metro newspapers. 

“I refuse to believe the new Bob the Builder is old enough to hold any kind of qualification,” said @justbiglee. “New Bob the Builder looks like he drinks Carling and votes UKIP,” said @stevencottOMG  

“You know your childhood is over when they give Bob The Builder a new look,” said @Drrake  

“They have changed bob the builder into a completely different man im suing the BBC,” said @Ohchummyy  

CM also found there was a mixed reaction from its ad hoc focus group of pre-schoolers. Three-year-old Hugo ago preferred the old Bob, saying the new one was “too tall”, while one-year old Benjamin commented: “BOB, HAT, BOB, BOB, HAT!!”



Bob the Builder was launched in 1999 as a stop frame animation, which ran for 209 episodes during series 1-16. A CGI version was launched in 2010, producing 40 episodes across two series. Mattel also owns the pre-school brands Thomas and Friends and Fireman Sam, which were both digitally reworked for a modern audience.  

Other well-known characters have also been given a new look. Scoop is the competitive, ambitious, boastful digger with big ideas; Muck is a digger/dumper who wants to make everyone happy, but is “not the sharpest tool in the box”; and Lofty is a highly strung mobile crane able to lift heavy materials such as steels and timber and occasionally a wrecking ball for demolition.


A year or so before my retirement as Senior Building Officer with Preston City Council, a request was made by the Guild Hall Manager to widen the stage entrance doors for some of Bobs gear. The final words of the e-mail were - ok you've probably guessed - 'Can you fix it' and off course we did!

Chris Rodgers MCIOB, 7 November 2014

Leave a comment