On 10 November 2009, Sesame Street celebrated 40 years on our televisions with the start of their latest series. Proof then, surely, that children still get enjoyment from TV programmes with an element of education in them (Blue Peter's another one that's still going strong).At the time of its launch, using TV in education like this was incredibly revolutionary, a recent study has now found that teens who watched Sesame Street in pre-school or nursery had gained higher school grades than those who had not. Founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Ralph Rogers should be pleased with themselves on that basis alone.
It doesn't matter that the series is wholly Americanised for the many British kids watching, and it doesn't matter that this fictional urban street is home to a motley crew of muppets, children and adults - indeed, that's what makes it fun for the five millions viewers who tune in every week to watch! What's more, without Sesame Street we may not have the likes of Jim Henson, who launched his talent here and later went on to create cult films Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Sesame Street comes with a rich legacy, and prides itself in teaching children social skills, not just maths and spelling. That why topics such as death, divorce, hatred, pregnancy, and love have all been raised in the series, as well as an episode on the Noughties recession more recently, teaching families to stick together in hard times.
Of course, the really big topic that needs raising is: who's your favourite Sesame Street resident - Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert or Ernie? And who could forget that most comical of characters, the Count, a kind of vampire that would count "One, hah, hah, hah... two, hah, hah,hah" and so on! They all worked so well together, and at no point more so than when everyone banded together to deliver the Sesame Street alphabet song, led by Big Bird (who's been played by Carroll Spinney for the entire 40 years of production and is now aged 75!).
The programme is universally adored by adults and children alike, and as a result the stage show Avenue Q (a rather more risque production for grown-ups) is having huge success. Even US First Lady Michelle Obama got in on the action recently by planting a garden with a helping hand from Big Bird and Elmo.
As you'd expect, there was tons of merchandise to come from the Sesame Street TV show, including DVDs, Muppet Babies and Sesame Street Playmates... all adorable, bright and squidgy (apart from the DVDs, of course!).