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|Also known as||Sesame Street Canada (1972-1980's)|
Canadian Sesame Street (1980's-1996)
|Created by||Daniel McCarthy|
|Country of origin||Canada[a]|
|No. of seasons||5 (Sesame Park)|
|No. of episodes||340 (Sesame Park)|
|Running time||60 minutes (1972–1996)|
30 minutes (1996–2001)
|Production companies||Sesame Workshop|
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
|Original network||CBC Television|
|Original release||May 15, 1972 –|
August 24, 2001
|Related shows||Sesame Street|
The series originally functioned as a re-edited version of the original American series, and was named Sesame Street Canada and later, Canadian Sesame Street, with some of the segments replaced with ones produced in Canada and later featuring Canadian-exclusive Muppet characters. In 1996, the series adopted a new format and was renamed Sesame Park.
Canadian Sesame Street
Daniel McCarthy, the director of the CBC Sesame Street Project, developed Sesame Street Canada for CBC Television. The series, which debuted in 1972, was originally a hybrid of American and Canadian production segments. McCarthy partnered with the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) to introduce new, CBC-produced segments to the show's original American footage. McCarthy introduced distinct Canadian themes and set designs to the show. He brought in Canadian entertainers and personalities to film segments aimed at Canadian children. McCarthy also introduced basic French language lessons created specifically for Sesame Street Canada as well.
Between 1972 and 1995, the series, originally known as Sesame Street Canada and later Canadian Sesame Street, became an institution for preschool Canadian children. During the 1970s and 1980s it anchored a three-show block that included Friendly Giant (later replaced by Fred Penner's Place) and Mr. Dressup.
In 1972, the bulk of Sesame Street's content was licensed out to CBC Television, originally as five-minute interstitials during "commercial" breaks. CBC then added live-action and animated segments teaching about Canadian culture and French bilingualism, replacing segments on Spanish and American history on the original program. (Some Spanish segments still aired in Canada, although fewer in number). Most of the production of the Canadian segments took place in Winnipeg and Montreal. The American Sesame Street occasionally featured Canadian guests as well, such as Saskatchewan-born singer Buffy Sainte-Marie.
In 1981, the amount of Canadian content per show was increased to 30 minutes. In 1987, a series of specially made Canadian Muppet characters were introduced, including Basil the Bear (played by Bob Stutt), French-Canadian Louis the Otter, Dodi, a bush pilot, and Katie, a girl in a wheelchair.
The Henson Muppet shop also provided some Anything Muppets which could be redressed to become whatever characters the script called for, including Barbara Plum (a parody of CBC broadcasting legend Barbara Frum). Beau Beaver, an animated character, would discuss national symbols, particularly those appearing on Canadian money.
In 1996, the CBC decided to take on the job of producing different kinds of content for the series; specifically to have their own "street". Producer Shirley Greenfield and screenwriter Jill Golick decided to set the show in a park, rather than on an urban street. A new half-hour series entitled Sesame Park was born. In addition to three or four segments set in the park, each episode also consisted of almost entirely Canadian segments with only occasional American ones, most commonly featuring Bert and Ernie. Added to the cast was a Muppet kitten named Chaos (who is similar to Elmo, serving the same role, and is named after Golick's own cat) and a human character named Ray. Many guests made appearances on the series, including Red Green, a Canadian situation-comedy character played by Steve Smith, and Eric Peterson as Old King Cole.
In 1999, the series received its nomination and win from the Gemini Awards, for Best Preschool Program or Series (Wendy Smith, Susan Sheehan, Duncan Lamb). Bob Stutt was nominated that year for Best Performance in a Preschool Program or Series. In 2000, Sheila McCarthy won Best Performance in a Preschool Program or Series, for her role in an episode of the show, beating out fellow guest star Pier Kohl, as well as others. In 2001, the series won Best Preschool Program or Series (Wendy Smith, Susan Sheehan, Duncan Lamb), beating out Land O' Hands and The Nook Counting Network. Guest Eric Peterson won again for Best Performance in a Preschool Program or Series, beating out Pier Kohl, James Rankin, Natasha LaForce and Gisèle Corinthios.
As with the original Sesame Street, some segments of Canadian Sesame Street and Sesame Park were farmed out to other versions of Sesame Street, in particular, Sésamo, the Mexican version of Sesame Street.
Sesame Park was cancelled in 2001 for undisclosed reasons.
After the cancellation
Sesame Street now airs on Treehouse TV, a Canadian channel aimed at preschoolers. Various segments, including Global Grover and Elmo's World, have aired separately on the channel for many years after Open Sesame.
- Tim Gosley - Basil the Polar Bear (1987–1996)
- Trish Leeper - Katie (Sesame Street), Barbara Plum
- Rob Mills - Dodi (1987–1996), Garth Burmengi
- Pier Paquette (as Pier Kohl) - Louis the Otter
- Derek Ritschel - Ray
- Gord Robertson - Dodi (assistance in flying sequences)
- Bob Stutt - Basil the Polar Bear (1996–2001)
- Karen Valleau - Chaos the Cat
- Noreen Young - Dodi (1996–2001)
- Marty Stelnick
- "Friendly Giant producer Daniel McCarthy dies, Former head of CBC children's programming also developed Mr. Dressup". CBC News. 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Sesame Street to become Sesame Park". Hamilton Spectator, February 15, 1996.
- "Celebrate National Citizenship Week with an extra measure of Canadian TV". Montreal Gazette, April 11, 1987.
- Quill, Greg (2 October 1996). "Kids' CBC". The Toronto Star. Toronto ON. p. B3.
- The original series was North American. Originally, only the especially-made segments were Canadian, but after the Sesame Park rebranding, the show became fully Canadian.
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