BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Bob the Builder fixed for Japan
Bob the Builder and friends
Bob with Scoop the Digger and Pilchard the Cat
Television favourite Bob the Builder is to have his fingers doctored for the Japanese market - because he looks like a gangster.

In Japan the country's most feared mafia - the Yakuza - cut off their little fingers as a sign they can be trusted and have strength of character.

Bob's creators, Hit Entertainment, have also decided to give all merchandising of four-fingered Bob an extra digit so children will not be alarmed.

He is not the first animated character to be altered - in 1994 Postman Pat was considered too scary for export and got the same treatment.

'Too sensitive'

But Japanese journalist Chika Miyatake said she thought the cartoon creators were being too sensitive.

"If Japanese kids saw this cartoon with the character having four instead of five fingers then they might make a joke that he is in the mafia but they wouldn't be scared of it.

Postman Pat
Postman Pat was doctored in 1994

"With Pokemon and other Japanese cartoons being much more violent they are much more used to seeing frightening animation on the TV and anyway parents in Japan don't monitor what their children are watching in the same way as in Britain."

Nicholas Durbridge from the Copyrights Group Limited, which represents Postman Pat, said animated characters tended to have four fingers for technical reasons.

"Animators find less digits are easier for gripping and holding," he said.

But in the case of Postman Pat the actual animation was not touched.

Children's hit

Mr Durbridge said that would have meant re-filming all the episodes and that would have been too expensive.

Bob the Builder and his friends Scoop the Digger, Dizzy the Cement Mixer and Pilchard the Cat made their debuts on BBC One a year ago and have been a big hit.

The 10-minute programme for pre-school children stars the cheerful and trustworthy Bob going about his business, helped by his talking vehicles.

His shortage of fingers does not seem to give him any bother in the building trade.

See also:

20 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Bob cements his TV success
08 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Teletubbies hit the PlayStation
25 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Tweenies take on the world
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories