Under the Umbrella Tree is a Canadian family television series created by puppeteer Noreen Young in 1986. It was produced by Noreen Young Productions and CBC Television, and ran from 1986 to 1993.
Though initially produced exclusively in Canada, American television station Disney began to co-produce the program in 1991, and episodes were aired for American viewers on Disney from 1991–1996. Syndication continued on YTV, a Canadian station, until 1997. Many episodes of the show were released to DVD by Cinerio Entertainment in partnership with Noreen Young in 2006, following a long wait for expiration of ownership rights.
As part of an agreement with CBC, episodes of the show were filmed with the understanding that no TV commercials would be later added. Because of this, each "regular" episode is exactly 15 minutes, and each "special" episode is 28–30 minutes, leaving no room for TV ads if it were to resurface in syndication on network television in the future.
Plot and characters
Under the Umbrella Tree featured a diverse set of characters, including the only human cast member Holly Higgins, and puppets Iggy the Iguana
, Jacob the Bluejay
, and Gloria [
] who all live together in a home featuring a prominent indoor Umbrella Tree
There are also various other puppet characters, such as Mrs. McMurtry, the Umbrella Tree gang's neighbour, and Chuck Chickadee, who is Jacob's friend. Special guests have also appeared on the program, such as Michelle St. John as the gang's new neighbour in 1990's Great Gardening episode.
The program consists of 280 episodes, 270 of which are 15 minutes in length, and there are ten 30-minute specials. There are episodes about baseball, holidays, singing, dancing, exercise, and various other activities.
The show's characters were created by Ken Sobol, who also wrote the majority of the series episodes. Sobol had previously worked closely with Noreen Young on Readalong and Telefrancais, two other children's television series.
- Holly Higgins (Holly Larocque) - The only human cast member. Holly was seen as a parental figure for the three puppet characters. She is known for being funny, artistic, and generous.
- Iggy Iguana (Bob Stutt) - Iggy sleeps on the shelf at the Umbrella Tree residence, and his characteristics include sometimes thinking too highly of himself, and unwillingly making mistakes. He enjoys playing the guitar. He, along with Jacob Bluejay, can be regarded as the klutzes of the gang.
- Gloria Gopher (Noreen Young) - Gloria is the only female puppet in the Umbrella Tree household, and lives and sleeps 'under the umbrella tree', which is located behind the couch. It is known as her burrow.
- Jacob Bluejay (Stephen Brathwaite) - Jacob is the only citizen of the Umbrella Tree household capable of flight. He usually sleeps somewhere outdoors, preferably on the patio. Jacob sometimes invents things that seldom work as he plans, which results in a humorous episode.
- Louis Bird (Bob Stutt) - Louis is a friend of the Umbrella Tree gang, usually involved in festivities outside the apartment, or in dialogue within several episodes. He is well known for overusing the term "indeed", and usually adds the phrase "hmm, indeed!" at the end of his statements.
- Mitzi the Dog (Holly Larocque) Mitzi is Gloria's best friend who is always seeming to get either herself or Gloria in trouble.
, Under the Umbrella Tree reruns
were placed on hiatus, after the Disney Channel
stopped allowing the airing of the program and shelved the episodes. Since Disney owned all rights to the show, airing reruns on another television station was not possible until the rights expired in 2005
. Since then, Noreen Young Productions in unison with Cinerio Entertainment
has begun selling the episodes on DVD. Though the show's creator mentioned the possibility in 2001
, there is not much chance of the program airing in syndication
on any television station in the future.