Sesame Street was conceived 45 years ago at a Manhattan dinner party. A Carnegie Foundation executive’s remark that his daughter would stare at the test patterns on early morning TV prompted a debate about whether TV could be used to educate and entertain at the same time. “What if it went down more like ice cream than spinach?” asked TV producer Joan Cooney.
Being the sophisticates that we are in 2011 it seems a remarkable question, yet they had to invent a whole new genre of TV. An August Facebook online petition for Bert and Ernie to get married had nearly 7,000 followers. But an official announcement from the programme makers put an end to it. They are puppets and they have no sexual orientation. But, it turns out they have a sense of direction.
The longest cohabiting and celibate TV couple, Bert and Ernie in Sesame Street were the sixties TV’s answer to the question ‘can TV teach young children?’ Bert was based on a banana, Ernie on an Orange. 40 years later the question is: Can the Laurel and Hardy of educational TV make it as celebrity comedy satnav voices? With competition including SpongeBob and Homer Simpson and Yoda it will be a close call for our argumentative buddies.