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Poland gained its own version of Sesame Street in 1996 on TVP2. It was one of the few countries in Europe that did not translate the famous Sesame Street songs. This version does a lot with their own traditional music.
The Muppets remain the main attraction, but now they speak Polish, have Polish names, and interact with actors playing Polish characters, including a grandfather whose bushy mustache makes him look like Poland's anti-communist hero and former president, Lech Walesa.
Actor Andrzej Buszewicz was chosen for the role by children who were shown a group of photographs and picked his face as the most grandfatherly. "It turned out that (the Walesa look-alike) was the average grandfather the children selected", said Andrzej Kostenko, who shot the 52-episode series.
The series had its debut in October, just after a version appeared in Russia in the Russian language. Before that, Polish children had only known the American version of Sesame Street with a man doing a voice-over and reading all the parts in Polish (as is usually the case for most foreign-language programs that are broadcast on Polish TV). Now, it's all Polish, from the dubbed dialogue to the Polish family that lives on the make-believe "Sezamkowa" Street.
There are even original Polish Muppets, designed in the United States by Jim Henson Productions based on thousands of Polish children's sketches.
The characters are:
- Bazyli the Dragon, a jovial, furry dragon.
- Beata, a lamb who thinks she knows everything.
- Pedzipotwor, a male turquoise monster.
In one episode, Beata played a TV commentator, reporting on an orchestra's performance as if it were a sporting event. "The piano is moving ahead and the violin is coming in second," she said. "The oboe has done something wrong. It's getting a yellow card from the conductor." In Poland, where classical music retains a strong influence, along with soccer, the scene worked.
The prime time Sunday afternoon series is the result of 15 months of effort by Polish producers, educators, writers and actors working with the Children's Television Workshop crew.
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