|First aired||January 8, 1973|
|No. of episodes||2682|
Sesamstrasse has been primarily running on Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) since January 8, 1973; it is currently in its 39th season. Sesamstrasse's 30-minute episodes can also be seen on ARD's children programming affiliate KI.KA. In January 2012, Sesamstrasse stopped airing on ARD, but continues to be broadcast on KI.KA.
- For a list of episodes, see Sesamstrasse Episodes.
The Dubbed Era: 1973-1977
After a short test run of a few original, undubbed Sesame Street episodes from August 1972 onward, the German version of the show premiered on January 8, 1973.
The first three seasons, or 250 episodes of Sesamstrasse consisted of the original American episodes dubbed to German in Hamburg. Merely the opening and closing songs and sequences were changed, featuring new lyrics written by Volker Ludwig and tunes by Ingfried Hoffmann. The title of the German theme song is Der, die, das (wer, wie, was – wieso, weshalb, warum – wer nicht fragt, bleibt dumm!), literally translating to This, this and that (who, how, what - why, why and why - those who don't ask stay dumb!).
The exception to air the program was Germany's most southern state of Bavaria, where the local TV station felt that the Sesame Street set was too gritty to suit German children, and consequently had to develop its own children's programming called Das feuerrote Spielmobil (The fire-red Play-mobile).
Variety shows like Peter Alexander präsentiert Spezialitäten in 1975 promoted the show by stopping by the original US-set, and taping special footage.
Yet from 1976 through 1977 the street scenes were dropped, due in part to a consistent onslaught of protesting parents that were unhappy with the "controversial" character of Oscar the Grouch. Instead a new framing story was created, following the antics of a boy named Bumfidel and his mother. Since these stories did not take place on a street, the show's title was temporarily rendered incomprehensible.
The most controversial moment of this early period was a film showing the unconcealed birth of a human baby.
The Studio Era: 1978-1988
In 1977, a German street set was built at Studio Hamburg for German framing stories. Samson the bear (1978-2012) and Tiffy the bird (1978-2005) replaced Big Bird (Bibo) and Oscar the Grouch (Oskar der Griesgram) as main characters, and the new version debuted on January 2, 1978.
Each episode featured the new puppets interacting with a pair of human characters; consistently one male, one female. The individual sketches of Sesame Street's original American inhabitants remained the dubbed main part of the show, but some were edited due to intros that exhibited English words (such as The Adventures of Super Grover, or the Sesame Street News Flash skits).
In the following years more characters were added to the German street scenes, such as the German-built, androgynous Uli von Bödefeld (Uli is short for Ulrich), also called Herr von Bödefeld (1978-1988), and Finchen the Snail (1979-1983, 1989-present).
Just as in its American counterpart, the German characters have been remodeled over the decades. Most obvious were changes in the first main characters Samson and Tiffy (as can be seen here for Samson 1978-2000 and Tiffy Through the Years). Finchen has also had his fair share of fabric surgery.
From 1978 to 1988, the fact that the street stories took place in a studio was never kept a secret. Some parts of the street were simply 'matted in' during an episode, or the characters would ask for help from the studio crew. (One episode about Samson trying to scratch an annoying flea ends with the entire studio crew itching!) The matting also allowed the characters to show up in different locations, like a beach, a small deserted island that would be surrounded by an entire ocean through the snap of one's fingers, a nearby train station, or the roof of the studio.
While Big Bird ("Bibo" in German) and Oscar the Grouch, both performed by Caroll Spinney, had visited Sesamstrasse for the special episode 750 before, another highlight of this era was the celebration of Sesamstrasse's 1000th episode; the "Sesamelly Zirkusshow," a circus gala performance taped at "Zirkus Althoff" in which Big Bird appeared alongside the German characters one more time. Remarkable is that Caroll Spinney did not just perform the character to be dubbed later, but also provided his voice in German, resulting in Bibo having a noticeable American accent. The opening for this episode, that aired on January 26, 1985, can be seen here; special guest host Big Bird does not appear in it.
In the years 1984 and 1985 no new episodes were taped; instead a wild mix of repeats was shown on TV. From 1986 onward new episodes with two new human actors were produced, and while the studio set remained largely the same, a bicycle shop was added, run by the new residents. Tiffy and Samson were slightly remodeled for the first time for these episodes.
In 1988, the studio set and original puppets were destroyed in a fire.
The Bicycle Shop Era: 1989-1999
The puppets were rebuilt in 1989 with significant changes. The new set was centered around the new bicycle shop that was introduced in 1986, but the street stories no longer took place in a studio set.
Instead a courtyard was added, and new characters were introduced: Rumpel the Grouch (1989-2008), living inside a water barrel, and Buh the Owl (1989-2000), housed inside a hollow tree. While the set offered Tiffy a new apartment-like living room in the coming years, it still featured Samson's cave in which he had lived in prior to the set change.
Sesamstrasse fans divide the series between the Studio Episodes and the Bicycle Shop Episodes in the same way that American fans talk about the pre-Elmo days. In recent years the courtyard slowly transitioned into an entire marketplace, a common social center for German towns and even city districts.
Leonie Löwenherz (Leonie Lionheart in English), a female lion (1986-1989), was featured for a very short time after the set and puppets were destroyed in the fire. Just like Uli von Bödefeld, she was built by German puppet makers and not the Muppet Workshop. After her short-lived Sesame career, she got her own (ALF-like) show called "Leonie Löwenherz" on ARD, featuring herself, her two lion brothers and a few human characters.
During the early years of this era, older puppets were re-used for new characters such as Simson (on and off in 1986-1998), Samson's cousin; with slight changes being made to his appearance (equipped with a hat, a tie, etc.). For the first few episodes that his name was mentioned, Simson was only imagined by Samson and other characters doubted his existence, similarly to as it happened with Snuffy on Sesame Street when he was only being seen by Big Bird.
The Marketplace Era: 2000-2012
In 2000, the cast expanded anew. The additions to the puppet cast were Feli Filu (2000-2007) the Monster reporter, the comic duo Pferd the horse (2002-present) and Wolle the sheep (2002-present), as well as a few recurring grouches, and some Anything Muppets.
In 2003 the German co-production's 30th anniversary was celebrated with a press conference and boxer Axel Schulz, Ernie, Bert and Elmo (performed by Kevin Clash) in attendance, as the show gave a donation of € 12,271.00 to UNICEF. Ernie and Bert appeared on a regular episode that year, as well as on the show's 30th anniversary TV-special.
Since then, Sesamstrasse has been visited by the most diverse cast of supporting Muppets than any other international version. One-shot characters include for example Super Franky, Grouchella, Knut Köffelström, Turbo Theo, Sinan, as well as a whole slew of wolves, chickens and other creatures.
In 2006, German audience's long-time favorites Ernie and Bert began appearing regularly in newly produced German segments. For the 36th season, the two moved into their own apartment on Sesamstrasse, above new human character Frau Kowalski, commenting on the street events from their balcony. As more and more previously used Muppets were borrowed from Sesame Workshop, more secondary characters evolved in their own sketches, such as the green Wolf vom Wörtersee in 2007.
For decades the show used to consist of around 50 percent of American material, like most international co-productions of Sesame Street. But from 2007 onwards, the American material has been used less and less, so that by today an average Sesamstrasse episode only contains two or three American produced sketches. Also, just as it has become common practice on Sesame Street since 2002 to drop the framing story format, Sesamstrasse's street scenes began airing as a whole at the beginning of each episode. Beginning in 2008, the show was shot in high definition.
On December 24, 2008, a German-produced, 45-minute Christmas special called Weihnachten mit Ernie und Bert aired, featuring Ernie, Bert, and an Anything Muppet Santa Claus. In 2011, more segments were produced to air both as standalone segments outside the show, and within: Ernie & Bert Songs and Ernie & Bert Märchensongs.
The Elmo Era: 2012-present
For the show's 40th anniversary, Elmo was introduced as a resident on the street, appearing in a tree house setting as the new host of the show.
New characters include a female friend to Elmo, played by Julia Stinshoff, and Susi Schraube, an inventive girl who appears in a series of new stop-motion segments. Established characters such as Rumpel and Samson were retired (although Samson made a special appearance on the show in 2013), while Pferd, Wolle and Finchen remain part of the cast. Established characters such as Cookie Monster and Grover make guest appearances. Super Grover 2.0 was also added to the show beginning in 2013.
The new season debuted on October 1, 2012, with the special birthday themed episode airing on the anniversary date of January 8, 2013. Other anniversary events include:
- NDR Radiophilharmonie mit Ernie, Bert und Samson aired January 1, 2013 as a 30-minute special New Year's concert on ARD.
- New Year's Day 2013 also brought a new 45-minute documentary airing on NDR, titled Unsere Geschichte: Als die Sesamstrasse nach Deutschland kam ("Our History: When Sesame Street Came to Germany"). The TV special technically debuted in a special preview stream online on December 28, 2012, and is currently available online for a limited time: NDR.de - Unsere Geschichte: Als die Sesamstraße ins deutsche TV kam.
- DAS! aired brief live guest appearances by members of the current cast of Sesamstrasse characters from January 2 to 6, 2013. NDR Info radio aired a 54-minute panel discussion with producers and puppeteers, as well as Ernie and Bert, on January 6, 2013 . Following the official birthday party, Ernie and Bert appeared on N-JOY radio on January 8, 2013 .
- Official Birthday Party in Hamburg, Germany on January 7, 2013: Sesame Workshop President H. Melvin Ming, NDR chairman Lutz Marmor, Cookie Monster (performed by David Rudman), Pferd, Wolle, Finchen, Elmo, Ernie & Bert at Sesamstrasse's 40th anniversary press conference birthday party. Samson, Ernie & Bert at the 40th anniversary live concert (a variation of NDR Radiophilharmonie mit Ernie, Bert und Samson). Live reports on Hamburg Journal accompanied the festivities, including interviews with Ernie, Bert and Elmo.
- The special 40th Anniversary Episode aired on January 8, 2013, the premiere date of the first episode and features a birthday celebration for the show. A special music video for the anniversary was created, revisiting "Mah-Na Mah-Na," starring Sesame Muppets and local celebrities.
- Die lange Sesamstraßen-Nacht ("The Long Sesame Street Night") aired on January 12, 2013, re-airing vintage episodes and rare documentaries in a four-hour special programming block from 5:40 PM (EST) to 2:40 PM (PST).
- On January 31, 2013, Ernie and Bert paid a visit to TV Total, and sang a couple of Sesamstrasse songs with host Stefan Raab. On April 12, in a prerecorded appearance, the duo co-hosted SWR3 latenight.
- Eine Möhre für Zwei aired its special 2x50-minute German TV movie Das Geheimnis der Blumenfabrik on March 28 and 29, 2013. The movie premiered at a special theater screening for cast and crew on March 24, 2013, at Hamburg indie theater Abaton.
- Die Große Sesamstrassen-Gala, a musical TV special encompassing a selection of newly produced Ernie & Bert Songs, hosted by Mariechen, aired on children's channel KIKA on October 12, 2013.
- On October 12, 2013, Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Wolf and Preston Rabbit also appeared live on Das Herbstfest der Träume, a 180-minute prime-time music variety TV show that aired on ARD and was hosted by Florian Silbereisen. The surprise appearance was set up to coax singer Helene Fischer into visiting "the street" in order to produce a special installment of Ernie & Bert Songs with them. The quintet joined her on her song "Mit keinem Andern," and also sang along with guest star of the evening, Mireille Mathieu, on her song "Wenn mein Lied deine Seele küsst," on her medley of songs and for the show's finale. Das Magazin zum Herbstfest, a backstage report on the appearance, was produced the same night and aired on October 18, 2013 on MDR.
- Both Berlin and Hamburg receive anniversary exhibitions with Muppets on display, as well as special birthday events taking place throughout the year.
- The Berlin-based exhibition 40 Jahre Sesamstrasse opened on December 12, 2012 with a live appearance by Samson, Ernie, Bert and Horst Janson, and was on display until
April 7May 5, 2013 (extended). The Muppets on display were Samson, Tiffy, Rumpel, Feli Filu, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert and a purple Anything Muppet boy.
- The Hamburg-based exhibition opened with a live appearance by Ernie on May 14, 2013 and will run through March 16, 2014. The slightly altered exhibition is running under the title Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum 40.! Ein Ausflug in die Welt der Sesamstraße ("Congratulations on your 40th! A trip into the world of Sesame Street"). The Muppets on display are Samson, Tiffy, Rumpel, Feli Filu, Pferd and Wolle.
- The Berlin-based exhibition 40 Jahre Sesamstrasse opened on December 12, 2012 with a live appearance by Samson, Ernie, Bert and Horst Janson, and was on display until
- The live-show 40 Jahre Sesamstrasse - Die Geburtstags-Show was touring the country (as well as making a stop in Luxembourg) throughout 2013.
- Starting December 25, 2013 (Christmas Day), KIKA aired Elmo - das Musical as its own individual short form series. Around the same time, newly produced Wort des Tages (Word of the Day) segments with German celebrities began airing on Sesamstrasse.
(years are production dates)
- Samson, a bear (1977-2008, 2013-present)
- Tiffy, pink bird/monster (1977-2005)
- Uli von Bödefeld (1978-1988) (not an official Muppet)
- Finchen, a snail (1979-1983, 1989-present)
- Leonie Löwenherz, a lioness (on and off in 1986-1989) (not an official Muppet)
- Simson, Samson's cousin (on and off in 1986-1998)
- Rumpel, a grouch (1989-2008)
- Buh, a male owl (1989-2000)
- Feli Filu, a blue female monster reporter (2000-2007)
- Pferd, a horse (2002-present)
- Wolle, a sheep (2002-present)
- Gustav, a caterpillar (2002-mid 2000s)
- Moni, an Anything Muppet mom (2005-2007)
- Lena, Moni's monster daughter (2005-2009)
- Wolf vom Wörtersee, a green wolf (2007)
- Ernie (2006-present)
- Bert (2006-present)
- Elmo (2012-present)
- Wolf, another green wolf (2013)
- Cookie Monster (2013)
- Grover (2013)
- Mariechen (2013)
- as well as assorted Anything Muppets, Monsters, Grouches, Chickens and other animals.
- Street residents (years are production dates)
- Liselotte Pulver as Lilo
(paired with Henning, Uwe, and Manfred, 1977-1983)
- Henning Venske as Henning
(paired with Lilo, 1977-1978)
- Uwe Friedrichsen as Uwe
(paired with Lilo, 1979-1981)
- Horst Janson as Horst
(paired with Ilse, Elisabeth and Ute, 1980-1983)
- Ilse Biberti as Ilse
(paired with Horst, 1980)
- Elisabeth Vitouch as Elisabeth
(paired with Horst, 1979)
- Ute Willing as Ute
(paired with Horst, 1981-1983)
- Manfred Krug as Manfred
(paired with Lilo, 1983)
- Gernot Endemann as Schorsch
(paired with Bettina #1 & #2, 1986-1998)
- Hildegard Krekel as Bettina #1
(paired with Schorsch, 1986-1989)
- Kirsten Spick as Bettina #2
(paired with Schorsch, 1989-1998)
- Gunnar Dressler as Pingel (?) (1989)
- Ferdinand Dux as Opa Brass (1992-2000)
- Wolfgang Gerdes as Mucke (1995-1996)
- Senta Bonneval as Helmi (1995-1998)
- Alexander Geringas as Alex (1997-2000)
- Vijak Bajani as Jivana (1995-2000)
- Nils Julius as Nils (1999-2009)
- Caroline Kiesewetter as Caro #1 (1999-2001)
- Marianne Sägebrecht as Momi (2001)
- Miriam Krause as Caro #2 (2002-2004)
- Dirk Bach as Pepe (2000-2007)
- Anke Engelke as Anke (2003-2004)
- Helen Zellweger as Helen (2004-2005)
- Mehmet Yilmaz as Mehmet (2003-2009)
- Franziska Troegner as Ella (2003-2009)
- Annette Frier as Annette (2005-2009, 2014)
- Adele Neuhauser as Frau Kowalski (2008-2009)
- Julia Stinshoff as Julia (2012-present)
Sketch actors (years are production dates)
- Horst Pinnow as Detektiv Humphrey Gocard ("Letter Detectives" segments, 1980s)
- Tobias Meister as Ludwig Lupe ("Letter Detectives" segments, 1980s)
- Felicitas Woll as Ragazza, die Wörterfee ("Wolf vom Wörtersee" segments, 2007-present)
- Otto Waalkes as Norbert Neugier ("Ernie & Bert Show" segments, 2007-present)
Character Translations and Voices
- Sesamstrasse Specials
- Sesamstrasse Sketches
- Sesamstrasse Merchandise
- Ernie und Bert im Land der Träume, the German dub of Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures
- Official website
- German site for Fabula Puppet Makers
- The German voiceover cast from 1973
- German fan club site with episode guide
- ↑ Joan Ganz Cooney and Jim Henson discuss Sesame Street's first co-production (from Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting) (video)
- ↑ Sesamstrasse Fanclub listing of Die große Zirkus-Show (Episode 1000) (in German)
- ↑ NDR Info - Sesamstrasse panel discussion photo gallery (2013-01-06)
- ↑ N-JOY XTRA - Ernie und Bert bei N-JOY (2013-01-08)
- ↑ Sesame Workshop Blog - Sesamstrasse Celebrates 40th Anniversary (2013-01-09)
- ↑ [http://www.altonaermuseum.de/altonaer-museum/ausstellungen/vorschau/ansicht.html?uniqid=4616 Altonaer Museum: Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum 40.! Ein Ausflug in die Welt der Sesamstraße]