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Sesame Street

Bob on Sesame Street

Sesame Street is an educational television program for young children, which led the way for many of the modern edutainment style shows. It is known for the inclusion of Muppet characters created by the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Broadcast History
3 Controversy faced by the show
4 Primary Characters
5 History of the Show
6 External Link


Produced in the United States, Sesame Street has millions of viewers worldwide. It premiered on November 10, 1969 on the National Educational Television network, and later that year moved to NET's successor, the Public Broadcasting System. Sesame Street has received more Emmy Awards than any other program.

The program uses a mixture of puppets, animation and live action to teach young children basic reading and arithmetic, for example, colors, letters, numbers, days of the week. It also has segments focusing on basic life-skills, e.g., how to cross the road safely, the importance of basic hygiene, and so on. Many of the skits and other segments are parodies or copies of standard television formats.

There is also a sly, subtle sense of humor in the show that has appealed to older viewers since it first premiered. A number of spoofs and parodies of popular culture appear on the show, especially ones aimed at PBS, the network that airs the show. For example, during a segment entitled "Me Claudius", the children viewing the show might enjoy watching Cookie Monster and the Muppets, while adults watching the same sequence may enjoy the spoof of the Masterpiece Theatre production of I, Claudius; this series of segments is Monsterpiece Theater. Several of the characters on the program are aimed at an older audience, such as the character Flo Bear (Flaubert); Sherlock Hemlock; and H. Ross Parrot (based on Reform Party founder Ross Perot). Also to attract adult viewers, hundreds of actual celebrities have made guest appearances on the show over the years. (See Celebrity guest stars on Sesame Street.)

The purpose of such elements of adult humor are to encourage parents to watch with their children. By making the show not only something that educates and entertains kids, but keeps adults entertained, the producers hope that more discussion about the concepts on the show will occur.

Sesame Street has a strong multi-cultural element and tries to be inclusive in its casting, incorporating roles for disabled people, young people, senior citizens, Hispanic actors, African-American actors, and others. While some of the puppets look like people, others are animal or "monster" puppets of arbitrary sizes and colors. It encourages children to realise that people come in all different shapes, sizes, and colours, and that no one physical 'type' is any better than another.

Each of the puppet characters have been designed to represent a specific stage or element of early childhood, and the scripts are written so that these characters reflect the developmental age level of a child that age. This helps the show address not only the learning objectives of different age levels, but also the concerns, fears, and interests of children of different age levels.

Broadcast History

The show is broadcast worldwide; in addition to the American version, many countries have locally-produced versions adapted to local needs, some with their own characters, and in a variety of different languages. Broadcasts in Australia commenced in 1971. In Canada, 15-minute segments called Canada's Sesame Street were broadcast starting in 1970 and eventually grew to a full program called Sesame Park in 1995. Separate programs exist in countries including Germany, Greece, (on ERT, later to a private network), the Netherlands, and Mexico, and there are plans for a joint Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian project.

A list of major characters in international versions.

Controversy faced by the show

Occasionally, the international version of the show airs segments that might not be considered acceptable to American audiences. In 2002, Sesame Workshop announced that an HIV-positive character, would be introduced to Takalani Sesame, the South African version of the show. This idea was considered crucial for an area where AIDS is an epidemic. The matter was not presented clearly by the media, whose reports gave many the impression that this character was proposed for their version of the program. This caused US program affiliates and certain Internet sites to spark somewhat of an uproar. Several politicians also became concerned, and fueled argument over public funding for such a controversial topic. The character named Kami was introduced in late September 2002; the name is derived from the Tswana word for "acceptance".

Primary Characters

List of Sesame Street characters

Primary Puppet Characters

Many of the puppet characters were designed by Jim Henson himself.

Primary Human Characters


Secondary Human Characters

Famous guest stars and various children from New York schools and day care centers are a constantly changing part of the cast. Minor puppets also have come and gone over the years.

Sesame Street is known for its merchandising, including many books, magazines, video and audio media, toys, and the "Tickle-me Elmo" craze. There are also a live touring show, Sesame Street LIVE and a theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia (USA), Sesame Place.

Sesame Street is produced by Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop or CTW.

History of the Show

The original format of the show called for the humans to be shown in plots on the street, intermixed with the segments of animation, live action shorts and Muppets. These segments were created to be like commercials: quick, catchy and memorable. This format would make the learning seem fun, and were the stepping stones in creating the now common edutainment-based program.

To make sure that this revolutionary new format was going to work, CTW called in test groups to air the program to. The test watchers were entranced when the ad-like segments, especially those with the jovial puppets, but were then seriously disinterested by the street scenes. It was a quick and easy choice for the producers to add the Muppets onto the street. This dose of cartoony characters now let the humans deliver messages to watchers without such viewer dismay.

In November of 1983 Sesame Street aired an episode about death, In the show Big Bird tries to find Mr. Hooper to give him a portrait drawing, Maria tells Big Bird "Mr. Hooper died." Big Bird innocently responds "I'll give it to him when he comes back." Then Susan regretfully tells Big Bird "When people die, they don't come back." Parents (many of whom were original viewers of Sesame Street) praised the episode as being honest and opening to children about death. Actor Will Lee who played Mr.Hooper since Sesame Street's first episode in 1969 died on December 7,1982 of Cancer/Heart Attack.

Sesame Street, along with several other Sesame Workshop produced shows (including The Electric Company) are all taped in New York City. Originally, they were taped at the Teletape Studios at 81st and Broadway in Manhattan until Teletape's parent company Reeves Entertainment went bankrupt. The show was then moved to and remains to this day at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in neighboring Queens.

History of Sesame Street

See also: A Special Sesame Street Christmas, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Three Bears and a Baby, Sesame Street discography, Sesame Street fiction bibliography, List of celebrity guest stars on Sesame Street

External Link