Katie and Orbie
Cartoonist Ben Wicks created the illustrations for a series of small children’s books about Katie and Orbie, written by his daughter Susan. Katie was a five-year-old, experiencing all kind of things for the first time, and Orbie was her friend from another planet, to whom Katie explained her world and how it worked. The popularity of the Katie and Orbie stories made them a natural source for a television series, which was created for the U. S. Public Broadcasting System.
Each half-hour episode contained three stories that unfolded as if a parent were reading a book out loud, and each story dealt with a child’s first time experience, like losing a tooth, riding a bicycle, trying to cheer up an unhappy adult, or getting help for an injured raccoon. Each episode also contained two very short Did You Know segments as bumpers leading into commercials.
The series was narrated by Leslie Nielsen. The first 65 episodes were produced by Lacewood Productions; later, after Lacewood studio head Sheldon Wiseman moved over to Amberwood Productions, this company created additional episodes of the series. Amanda Tripp was the voice of Katie, and Chris Wightman was Orbie the alien. Many stories for the television series were ‘based on’ the Wicks’ books, and were written by Mary Mackay Smith.
Katie and Orbie was seen on CTV’s Sunday children’s programming block in 1999 and 2000, having earlier been seen on CBC. It was subsequently shown on the Family Channel, while its post-PBS exposure in the U.S. included the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. It returned to CTV in the 2004-2005 season, which was its last.