Janice Burgess via Instagram

Janice Burgess, the brilliant creator of “The Backyardigans,” passed away on March 4. 

She was 72. 

Janice had a significant impact during her nearly 20-year tenure at Nickelodeon’s animation division. 

She began her journey with Nickelodeon in 1995 as an executive in charge of production.

Drawing inspiration from action and adventure films, Burgess infused her creative vision into both “The Backyardigans” and “Winx Club.” 

Explaining her approach, Janice said, “I wanted to bring some of that fantastical nature to young children, but to do it in a way that is safe, hopefully not scary, and not ‘imitatable’ except in your head.”

Interestingly, Burgess revealed that the character of “Uniqua” from “The Backyardigans” had elements of her own personality. 

In an interview, she shared, “Uniqua is me. Or at least who I was as a kid. She’s a ringleader. Out of the five, Uniqua is the main character, and we use her in every story.”


The Backyardigans,” which premiered on October 11, 2004, follows five animal neighbors who embark on imaginative adventures in their backyard, each episode featuring a unique musical genre and four songs.

Animation writer Fracaswell Hyman announced Janice Burgess’ passing on social media, paying tribute to her.

Hyman, who knew Janice early in his career when he was a head writer and she was an executive in charge of production, described her as the “person the network sends to the set to make sure the money is not going to waste.”

He also fondly remembered her “acid-tongued wit, flowing Hermes scarves, and omnipresent cigarettes.”

Reflecting on their relationship, Hyman shared, “Instead of an overseer, she became a friend. She recognized my magic before I did and made sure I was in the room and under consideration for many of the shows that came my way including ‘Little Bill’ and ‘Taina.’”

Apart from “The Backyardigans,” Janice contributed as a writer to “Bubble Guppies” and served as a producer on “Little Bill.”

I extend my sincerest condolences and prayers to those who knew and loved Janice Burgess.

May she rest in paradise.

Be sure to share this post with a friend, and don’t forget to Subscribe to stay updated!