Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969, so the show is now celebrating 50 years of teaching preschoolers how to recognize letters and numbers and get along with each other. Back in 1969, it was breakthrough television, something that hadn’t been seen before. The Children’s Television Workshop was innovating by using research into how children actually learn, and how that could be translated into television, while most children’s programming at the time was busy selling breakfast cereal. Viewers loved the short segments, the experimental animation, and most of all, the Muppets.
The CTW team had known they wanted Jim Henson’s Muppets to be part of the action as soon as they met Jim Henson.
In fact, the casting director went so far as to say that if Sesame Street couldn’t have Muppets, it might as well have no puppets at all.
Yet the Sesame Street pilot programs had kept Jim Henson’s muppets separate from humans, on the advice of experts who felt that showing the two together would be confusing to kids.
The experts were wrong. The Muppets were what held the children’s attention, so Henson designed new Muppets that could interact with humans, and they have done so ever since. Go behind the scenes and see Henson and his crew working on Sesame Street in a post at Considerable.
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