Sesame Tree

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Sesame Tree
Sesame Tree.jpg
(l-r) Potto, Aunt Claribelle and Hilda the Irish Hare.
Genre Educational
Theme music composer Duke Special
Country of origin Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 40
Running time 15 minutes
Production company(s) Sixteen South
Sesame Workshop
Original network BBC Two
Original release 5 April 2008 – 2013
Followed by The Furchester Hotel

Sesame Tree is the UK version of Sesame Street made entirely in Northern Ireland, is a children's television series produced by Belfast-based production company Sixteen South and Sesame Workshop. The first episode aired on BBC Two in Northern Ireland on 5 April 2008[1] with the first series subsequently airing nationwide on CBeebies in August 2008.[2]

In November 2010, a second series was launched, and broadcast on CBeebies from 22 November 2010.[3]


The project has been under consideration since 2004; in Sesame Workshop’s presentation on their international projects, Northern Ireland was listed as a goal, with the intent of ‘building the Sesame model for respect and understanding curriculum across the sectarian divide." [4]

In 2006, The American Ireland Fund provided support to realise the project.[5][6] Additional funding was secured from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and the Northern Ireland Fund for Reconciliation.[7] Funding for the second series is provided by IFI and Northern Ireland Screen.


The initial series of Sesame Tree comprised 20 seventeen-minute programmes, aimed at an audience of 3–6 year olds. Following a format similar to that of The Hoobs, it is composed of original puppet segments featuring Muppets created specifically for the series, local mini-documentaries depicting a child’s eye view of life in Northern Ireland, and classic Muppet segments from the Sesame Street library.

The common area of the programme is the "Sesame Tree" – a hollow tree where children can ask questions and have them answered;[8] the Sesame Tree is the programme's analogue to the street in the original Sesame Street programme. The residents of the Tree are Potto; Hilda and Archie, a new arrival for the second series.

All the characters were developed by Sesame Workshop and Sixteen South, and the Muppets for the series were built by The Jim Henson Company in New York, who worked with exclusively local writers and Muppet Performers. Martin P. Robinson assisted in auditioning and training local performers, who include Lesa Gillespie, Paul Currie, Michael McNulty, Mike Smith, Helen Sloan and Alana Kerr.[9] The Northern Irish science fiction writer Ian McDonald has contributed scripts to the series, along with local writing trio Kieran Doherty, Danny Nash and Ian Nugent. Each of these four writers has written five episodes each, comprising the full 20 episodes of the first series.

Speaking at the launch of Sesame Tree’s second series, Executive Producer Colin Williams said of Sesame Tree: "The programme continues to show contemporary life here in Northern Ireland and addresses issues such as respecting differences, sharing and dealing with new experiences such as going to school for the first time – things that are really important for young children not just in Northern Ireland but everywhere."[10]

Dr. Charlotte Cole, Senior Vice President, Global Education for Sesame Workshop, said of the programme: "...we have worked in collaboration with [experts in] Northern Ireland, to create resources which focus on social inclusion, encouraging children to develop as individuals and as members of the larger community. We believe that Sesame Tree will have a long term, positive impact on how today’s young children perceive the world around them and their own potential role in that world."[10]

The production also coincides with Tar ag Spraoi Sesame, an Irish-dubbed package of Play With Me Sesame, airing on TG4 in Ireland. The title music for the programme was composed by Northern Ireland artist Duke Special.[11]


  • Potto (performed by Paul Currie and Michael McNulty) – The main character of the series. He is a book-loving inventor who likes to "potter" around the devices. Potter is best friends with Hilda the Hare and is the cousin of Telly Monster. His puppet is the same AM Monster design that was used for Humphrey from Sesame Street.
  • Hilda (performed by Lesa Gillespie) – An Irish Hare who is best friends with Potto.
  • Claribelle (performed by Helen Sloan in Series 1, Alana Kerr in Series 2) – A red bird.
  • Bookworms – A bunch of Bookworms live amongst Potto's books.
  • Weatherberries – A bunch of singing fruit. They often announce the weather whenever Hilda asks what the weather will be like today.
  • Archie (performed by Mike Smith) – A bespectacled red squirrel who loves math. He was introduced in Season Two.


Series 1[edit]

  1. The Bookworms Move House
  2. Food for Thought
  3. Booga Granny Hare!
  4. The Share Necessities
  5. Big Hare Day
  6. Finders Keepers
  7. A Present for Claribelle
  8. CSI Sesame Tree
  9. Beezer Broccoli Birthday Cake
  10. Arty Party
  11. Turn and Turn About
  12. Practice Makes Perfect
  13. Potto's Really Rockin' Pocket Shoes
  14. One Wee Minute
  15. Hilda's Two Birthdays
  16. Same Difference
  17. Potto's Perfect Picnic
  18. Sad Hare Blues
  19. The Goldfish Tree
  20. A Very Special Visitor

Series 2[edit]

  1. Hilda's Beezer Buddies
  2. Best of Furry Friends
  3. Let's Have a Party
  4. Run Potto Run
  5. Out of Tune
  6. Super Squirrel's Super Glasses
  7. Potto's Heard of Cows
  8. Potto's Movie Mania
  9. Squirrel's Day
  10. It's Not Me It's You
  11. Potto's Never Ending Story
  12. Pizza Perfection
  13. Scaredy Squirrel
  14. Treemendous
  15. The Trying Game
  16. Promises, Promises
  17. Squirrel School
  18. The Big Sleepover
  19. Yes We Can
  20. Potto's Big Day Out



  1. ^ "The Bookworms Move House". Sesame Tree. Series 1. Episode 1. Belfast. 5 April 2008. BBC. BBC Two (Northern Ireland). Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Episodes from Sesame Tree broadcast in 2008". BBC. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Hilda's Beezer Buddies". Sesame Tree. Series 2. Episode 1. Belfast. 22 November 2010. BBC. CBeebies. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  4. ^ 2004 Sesame Workshop powerpoint presentation
  5. ^ The American Ireland Fund – Sesame Tree
  6. ^ O' Driscoll, Sean. "'Sesame Street' project to promote tolerance in North." The Irish Times. 28 January 2006.
  7. ^ O'Mahony, Catherine. "The North Gets Its Own Sesame Street." The Sunday Business Post. 5 May 2007
  8. ^ Sesame Workshop press release. 20 September 2007
  9. ^ Belfast Telegraph "Ulster on way to Sesame Street" by Emily Moulton 10/10/07
  10. ^ a b "World's longest street extends into the UK from Belfast – Sesame Tree returns to TV with second series this month" (Press release). Sesame Workshop. November 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Muppets arrive in Belfast as part of new children's television series, Sesame Tree, debuting on BBC Northern Ireland television this month" (Press release). Belfast and New York City: Sesame Workshop. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 

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