Poetree and Friends
Producer Greg Popowich created this children’s series, which owed something in style to The Friendly Giant, and was produced in Yorkton at CTV affiliate station CICC-TV. Poetree was a talking, ten-foot tree, and his friends were Birdie, who nested in his branches, and Dan the Storyman, who would climb into the tree each day to talk with Poetree and Birdie, and tell a daily story. Poetree opened each program with a poem, and did another toward the end of the show. Poetree had animated eyes and mouth; Birdie was a glove puppet, while Dan was Dan Calef, the station’s librarian, moonlighting as a tree-climbing storyteller.
Other elements in each program were a craft segment – where kids were shown how to do such things as make hats from paper plates, construct bubble gum worms, and paint pet rocks – and an exercise segment where young viewers were encouraged to emulate half a dozen kids in the studio doing simple movements to music. Other regulars in the show were the three Couch Potatoes, glove puppets whose antics were true to their names.
Poetree was voiced first by Jim Brock and later by Jud Niven. Debbie Hayward was the voice and puppeteer for Birdie, and also wrote most of the show, while Joyce Bagley animated Poetree’s eyes and one of the Couch Potatoes, and wrote Poetree’s daily poems and co-wrote the Couch Potato scripts.
65 episodes of Poetree and Friends were produced. The series ran in CTV’s weekend children’s programming blocks for five years from September 1995 through August 2000, prior to and during which period it won five Gold Can-Pro Awards as a local production, and was an outstanding example of what could be done on a shoestring budget by an enterprising group of creative young people.
Pip Wedge – August 2003