Children of the 80s: do you recognize this iconic Canadian character??

Moms didn't feel guilty leaving us to watch this show!
Do you remember Story Time Mouse?
The Polka Dot Door
Polka Dot Door: Created by talented Canadians
Johnie Chase
Cindy Cook in The Polka Dot Door
Our favorite stuffed friends
Story-time Mouse
Bonjour Minou!
Polkaroo! Polkaroo!
Humpty, Dumpty, Bear, and Marigold
A different theme each day
One hour specials
Canada's first children's show syndicated in the U.S
'Polka Dot Door' in South Africa and Ireland
'Playschool' Inspired
100% Canadian music
From 'Polka Dot Door' to 'Polka Dot Shorts'
'Gisèle's Big Backyard'
Moms didn't feel guilty leaving us to watch this show!

If you were born in Canada during the 70s or 80s, you most likely grew up watching this show! This wholesome, educational show was used as a "babysitter" by many stay-at-home moms at the time, in desperate need of a little break or a chance to get a task done in peace.

Do you remember Story Time Mouse?

If the picture above doesn't ring a bell, here's a little clue: Do you remember Story Time Mouse and Imagination Day??

(Photo: By Travisdoucette - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,)

The Polka Dot Door

If you guessed the 'Polka Dot Door', you are correct!
The premiere episode of the ‘Polka Dot Door’ aired fifty years ago, in 1971 on TVO. A combination of top-notch writing, creativity, and educational content made the show a mainstay in many Canadian homes.

(Photo: By Travisdoucette - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Polka Dot Door: Created by talented Canadians

The show was created by Peggy Nairn Liptrott, who oversaw the first 30 episodes. Vera Good was in charge of the conceptual foundation of the series. Ted Coneybeare held a pivotal role as the show’s educational consultant.

"Let's peep through the polka dot door..."

Pat Patterson and Dodi Robb wrote the scripts and composed the music for ‘Polka Dot Door.’ They wrote the theme song of the show together, which was used for the entire time the showed aired. Anyone who grew up watching the show most likely can still sing or at least hum their catchy tune!

(Photo: screenshot, YouTube)

"Songs and stories and so much more!"

The show was hosted by a man and woman, who proposed games, told stories, and sang songs inside a playhouse with a polka-dotted door. The same pair of hosts would run the show one week, and the following week they would be replaced by a different pair of hosts.

(Photo: screenshot, YouTube)

Johnie Chase

The longest-running male host on the show was Johnie Chase. The actor was a host on the show from 1984 until the shows' end in 1993.

(Photo: screenshot, YouTube)

Cindy Cook in The Polka Dot Door

Cindy Cook was the program’s longest-running female host. She worked on the show from 1981 until 1993. When production ended, she continued to tour Canada and the U.S with ‘Polka Dot Door Live’ until 2010.

(Photo: screenshot, YouTube)

Our favorite stuffed friends

The hosts were accompanied by stuffed toys: Marigold, Humpty, Dumpty, and Bear. Everyone who watched the show also remembers Polkaroo, who visited the hosts frequently.

Story-time Mouse

The entertainers would also visit Story-time Mouse, who lived in a large clock that the hosts used to help the children learn to tell time.

Photo: By Travisdoucette - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27542282

Bonjour Minou!

In later years a cat named Minou would join them to introduce some French language skills to the show. Minou is pictured on the far left here, the hosts and stuffed animals were having a party for the character.

Polkaroo! Polkaroo!

Polkaroo was probably the most emblematic character from the show; when we think of ‘The Polka Dot Door’, we immediately think of Polkaroo. The name Polkaroo comes from a combination of the words “polka” and “kangaroo”.

Photo: TVO

"I missed Polkaroo again?!"

Originally Polkaroo only appeared on the series on Thursdays, which was “Imagination Day”. One of the hosts would need to go and do something and secretly dress-up as Polkaroo. The other would be greeted by Polkaroo, who would perform a pantomime. When the other host returned, they were always disappointed to have missed Polkaroo again. Due to the character’s popularity, Polkaroo appeared more regularly on the show later on in the series.

Humpty, Dumpty, Bear, and Marigold

The stuffed toys on `Polka Dot Door´ never spoke; instead, the hosts interacted with them and informed the audience what they were saying, whispering into the toys’ ears and acting as their interpreters.

A different theme each day

The show ran from Monday to Friday, and each day had a different theme. Mondays were “Treasure Day”, Tuesday was “Dress-Up Day”, Wednesday was “Animal Day”, Thursday was “Imagination Day”, and Friday was “Finding-Out Day”.

One hour specials

The show also produced two one-hour specials, and the episodes consisted of five hosts and Polkaroo. The first was ‘Polkaroo's Birthday Party’ to celebrate 20 years of the show. The second and final special was called ‘Polkaroo Goes to Camp’, which was the only episode of ‘Polka Dot Door’ which did not have a storytime.

Canada's first children's show syndicated in the U.S

‘Polka Dot Door” aired on the Canadian television station TVO for 22 years, from 1971 until 1993. It could also be viewed in the United States on PBS from 1982-1988, and it was the first Canadian children’s show to be syndicated in the U.S.

'Polka Dot Door' in South Africa and Ireland

‘Polka Dot Door’ was also syndicated in Ireland (although the show was dubbed over, so the hosts had Irish accents.) Most notably, ‘Polka Dot Door’ was also aired in South Africa during the apartheid. Cindy Cook has stated that having the show air in South Africa during the apartheid was one of her proudest moments, as it was the only show on the air for children in which black and white performers could be seen on screen together.

'Playschool' Inspired

Although many of us think of ‘Polka Dot Door’ as being a 100% Canadian creation, it is an adaptation of the BBC children’s show ‘Play School’. TVOntario (TVO) licensed various aspects and concepts of the British show, such as the design of some of the stuffed animals and educational videos used on both programs.
In the picture here of some of the playschool toys, we can see the resemblance.

100% Canadian music

Dodi Robb can be credited with making ‘Polka Dot Door’ uniquely Canadian, as she is the creator of the iconic and mythical creature Polkaroo. In the late 70’s the show was free to start introducing more uniquely Canadian content, as producer Coneybeare was able to dissolve TVO’s licensing agreement with ‘Play School’.

From 'Polka Dot Door' to 'Polka Dot Shorts'

In 1993 the show was replaced by ‘Polka Dot Shorts’, featuring the same characters but in large format. Actors wore large costumes of the stuffed toys featured in ‘Polka Dot Door’. The show aimed to modernize ‘Polka Dot Door’ but hold similar values. It ran from 1993-2001, with around 180 episodes produced.

'Gisèle's Big Backyard'

Following ‘Polka Dot Shorts’, in 2005, the series ‘Gisèle’s Big Backyard’ was released. The show can still be viewed on TVO although, new episodes ceased production in 2016. Characters that originated in ‘Polka Dot Door’ such as Polkaroo, Marigold, Humpty, Dumpty, and Bear can be seen on the show. This show is available to watch today on TVOKIDS online, if you want to share the magic with your own little ones.

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