The Muppet King is about to find out: producers have announced plans to create a local version of the venerable children’s show, to be set in Belfast.
Producers of the Sesame Workshop, who have already created versions for the Middle Eastern and South African markets, say that their aim is to promote peace and understanding in areas where there is political conflict. And what better place to begin this type of education than at ground level, so to speak?
“As has been proved in South Africa, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, we own a format and a technology that can inspire kids to treat others with respect and tolerance,” said a spokesperson for the company.
The producers know that it’s vital to find the right approach, and to set the right tone.
“It won’t be easy,” admitted the spokesman. “The issues are extremely complex and we don’t pretend we have all the answers.”
Producers are hoping to learn from the show’s experience in other countries.
“We recently held a Sesame Street workshop in Jerusalem,” he said. “And a lot of people from Belfast came along to see if they could learn from our experiences in the Middle East.”
The new show would be set in a fictional, and presumably integrated, Belfast neighborhood. Sesame stalwarts Big Bird and Cookie Monster will be on hand, though we suspect that there will be recurring parts reserved for notable locals. We think the Rev. Ian Paisley would be a natural as Oscar the Grouch, and wouldn’t Minister for Education Martin McGuinness be a natural as The Count? The now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t Joint Assembly could be represented by the Snuffleupagus, while the greener-than-green Kermit seems a natural fit for a certain bearded politician . . .