Me and My Friends is a Nickelodeon pilot for what would later become the hit animated series The Backyardigans. It was taped at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida in September 1998. It was declined by Nick, but the characters were later reworked into a CGI-animated pilot in 2001 (or 2002). This second pilot was picked up as The Backyardigans.
At the time of the pilot's creation, there were only four main characters: Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, and Tasha. These four characters were created by Janice Burgess. She based the character of Uniqua on a view of herself as a child. The characters' finalized designs were drawn by illustrator Dan Yaccarino, who collaborated with Janice Burgess on the pilot. Yaccarino supervised the creation of costumes modeled after the characters. There are also other characters known as the Meerkats, who were puppeteered by Jim Kroupa and Avenue Q stars Rick Lyon and Jennifer Barnhart. Nothing else about these characters is known.
Austin, the purple kangaroo and the fifth main character of the animated series, was absent in Me and My Friends. It is unknown if the character of Austin had been created when the pilot was made. Some say that this may be the reason why Austin was referred to as "the new kangaroo on the block" in his character biographies from Nickelodeon.
The characters' appearances are not vastly different from that of the CGI series, besides a few minor differences:
- The pilot was originally produced in live-action, compared to the rest of the series created in CGI.
- Uniqua has nostrils, eyelashes, and purple polka dots, as opposed to magenta polka dots. She also has a tail, which can only be seen in some shots.
- Pablo's propeller is yellow, as opposed to red.
- Tyrone's fur is is red, as opposed to orange.
- Tyrone and Tasha's nostrils are black instead of dark yellow and dark orange. These were utilized as vision areas for the performers in the costumes.
- Tyrone's shirt has yellow/teal stripes rather than red/blue stripes.
- Tasha has a bow on her head that was removed in the final version.
- Austin is not included in this pilot.
The backyard setting also has some differences. A shed and a gate are visible, which do not appear in the final series.
The only known footage of Me and My Friends online is a 5-minute compilation video created by former crew members of Nickelodeon Studios for its 10-year anniversary in 2000. There is around 3 seconds of video without the original audio, as well as footage from other lost pilots. There is very little information about this pilot available, and whether or not Nickelodeon still has this remains unconfirmed. A gold-colored plaque bearing the pilot's logo is visible in various Nickelodeon Studios videos.