On the 10th November 1969, the American children’s television show Sesame Street was broadcast for the first time. Created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, the show has become a part of early-years culture with its combination of education, human characters, and Muppets created by Jim Henson’s production company.

Sesame Street was first conceived in 1966 with the idea of providing low-income, inner-city children with an educational foundation ready for when they began formal schooling. However, the creators wanted it to appeal all young children and worked closely with educational psychologists and other experts for a number of years in order to devise a format that would educate and entertain. Extensive use of research was made to shape and direct the episodes, resulting in what became known as the “CTW (or Children’s Television Workshop model)” of planning, production, and evaluation.

The producers’ decision to cast a majority of black actors fitted with the original intention of appealing to underprivileged urban children in America. However, this decision met some opposition when the show was made available for broadcast in different states. In Mississippi, for example, a state commission was pressured to reverse its decision not to broadcast the show after it was leaked that they felt “Mississippi was not yet ready” for a racially mixed cast.

Despite such controversies, Sesame Street was met with almost universal acclaim. It has now been broadcast for more than 45 years in over 120 different countries, and has won over 150 Emmy Awards and 8 Grammy Awards, making it the most awarded children’s show on television.

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© Scott Allsop