It is produced in America, and has millions of viewers worldwide. It premiered in 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, colours, 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 viewer, 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 Sesame Street Canada were broadcast starting in 1970 and eventually grew to a full program called Sesame Park in 1995. Separate programs exist in Germany, the Netherlands, and Mexico, and there are plans for a joint Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian project. International characters include: in Canada, Basil, a polar bear and Louis, a French speaking otter; in Germany, Rumpell, an Oscar-like character that lives in a rainbarrel; in the Netherlands, Pino, a blue Big Bird; in Israel, Kippi Kipod, a hedgehog.
Controversy faced by the show Occasionally, the international version of the show airs segments that might not be considered acceptable to North American audiences. In 2002, Sesame Workshop announced that an HIV-positive character would be introduced to the South African version of the show, Takalani Sesame[?]. This idea was considered crucial for an area where AIDS is an epidemic. The matter was partially distorted by the media, whose reports gave naïve citizens the impression that this character was to be added to their version of the program. US program affiliates and certain Internet sites sparked heated uproar, which was then furthered by politicians, who created controversy about public funding for such a controversial matter. The character named Kami was introduced in late September 2002, the name is derived from the Tswana word for "acceptance".
Primary human characters (alphabetically):
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 near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), Sesame Park.
Sesame Street is produced by Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop or CTW.
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.
1980s brought more new muppets- Telly Monster, Elmo, the Honkers, the Dingers, Forgetful Jones and Placido Flamingo. Elmo would just start as an anything muppet in a parody of Othello; few guessed that he would become a legend in the coming decade. The major lasting human characters added to the show were Gina Jefferson[?] and Bob's Uncle Wally[?].
Many major themes like birth, death and marriage were prodominant themes in the 80s. Easily the most important episode of Sesame Street was when Mr. Harold Hooper[?] passed on. The actor potraying him died before the shooting of the 1983-84 season, leaving the producers with a dilema. Should they replace Mr. Hooper with another actor? Should they just write his character out? Both of these options would surely cause distress among the young viewers. Instead, what was later selected by the Daytime Emmys[?] to be on the ten most influential moments ever on daytime television was written.
The episode dealing with Mr. Hooper's death was scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, so that parents would be home and help their children personally understand the passing. In this tasteful episode, Big Bird is all excited that he drew an amazing picture of Mr. Hooper, and wants to give it to him. Upon not finding him, Big Bird asks the adults on the street where Mr. Hooper is. They explain to him that Mr. Hooper has died, to which Big Bird asks when he will return. The adults must once again reinforce what death means, and that Mr. Hooper is never coming back. The cast agreed that it was one of the most painful episodes to do of the show.
The only other episode of the show that they have considered painful to do was also in this decade. The adults are sick and tired of Big Bird always using his "imaginary friend" Snuffleupagus as a skapegoat[?] for anything that goes wrong when they're away. They urge Big Bird to say his good-bye to Snuffy once and for all, as they are driven to the brink with all the nonsense. Even the Sesame Street newspapers read with front page headlines saying that Snuffy's got to go. So, Big Bird and Snuffy sadly say their good-byes in Big Bird's nest area. They cry in remorse of their forced seperation. Snuffy's tear falls onto Big Bird while they hug, leading Big Bird to the conclusion if he can even feel the water from the tears, Snuffy must be real.
On a brighter note, Gordon[?] and Susan Robinson[?] adopted little baby Miles in 1985. In 1988, Maria[?] and Luis love culimnates, leading eventually to a marriage, in which Big Bird is a ring barrer. This is a twist to the plot, as Maria ends her truely evident crush on David. Maria and Luis lead an active romance of camera, Maria becoming pregnant just months later, and giving birth to baby Gabriella[?]. Shortly after, the actor who played David died. This death isn't addressed on camera, the character itself is just handled as if nothing is missing. Producers likely didn't want to have a second death episode in the decade, as it might be considered cliché. Gina continues her operation of Hooper's Store[?], now becoming manager.
In 1985, everyone on Sesame Street finally sees Mr. Snuffleupagus[?]. For years, Snuffy was merely considered by the humans on the street to be an imaginary friend of Big Bird. America was struck by multiple child rapings. Children's Television Workshop's producers of the show feared kids might think that, if nobody believes what Big Bird says, surely no one would believe them. Snuffy was finally revealed to the rest of the street to be real, causing an array of disbelief.
Sesame Place[?] theme park opens in Pennslyvania, touting rides, attractions and parades themed to Sesame Street. Also, Sesame Street LIVE! arena tours were first organized with VEE Entertainment[?]. These shows featured costumed characters[?] based on the Muppets in the show, with multiple touring groups, each acting different plot lines. These were a replacement for the earlier shows featuring the human cast.
Joe Raposo[?], a lyricist for the show, passes away. Many diehard fans link his death to the start of a constant shrinkage of the irrelevance that originally helped the show's popularity.
February 1996, the original Ernie and Bert puppets were stolen from a museum in Germany. In addition to a large man hunt, Snuffy was shown pleading on German national television for their eventual safe return.
Osama bin Laden showed a poster of Osama bin Laden with a small but clearly identifiable images of Bert, a Muppet from the children's television show Sesame Street, over his right shoulder. For more on this event, see Bert.