|First aired||January 8, 1973|
|No. of episodes||2549|
Sesamstrasse has been primarily running on Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) since January 8, 1973; it is currently in its 36th season. Sesamstrasse's 30-minute episodes can also be seen on the nation's first public broadcasting network ARD and its children's programming affiliate KI.KA.
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. 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!) roughly 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.
One of the most controversial moment of this early period was a film showing the unconcealed birth of a human baby.
In 1977, a German street set was built at Studio Hamburg for German framing stories. Samson the bear (1978-present) 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 (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). 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 and Oscar the Grouch, both performed by Caroll Spinney, had visited Sesamstrasse for the 10th Anniversary special before, a highlight of this era was the celebration of Sesamstrasse's 1000th episode; a circus gala performance taped at "Zirkus Althoff", in which original Sesame Street characters appeared alongside the German characters.
In the years 1985 and 1986 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 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-present), living inside a water barrel, and Buh the Owl (1989-2002), 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 (1989-early 1990s), 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 1989-2000), 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.
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 (2000-present) and Wolle the sheep (2000-present), as well as a few recurring grouches, and some Anything Muppets.
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, as well as a whole slew of wolves, dogs 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.
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 one or two American produced sketches. Also, just as it has become common practice on Sesame Street for a while now 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.
|English Name||German Name||German Voice Actor|
|Ernie||Ernie||see preceding link for full list|
|Bert||Bert||see preceding link for full list|
|Cookie Monster||Krümelmonster||see preceding link for full list|
|Grover||Grobi||Karl-Ulrich Meves (1973-1997)
|Elmo||Elmo (previously Elma)||Sabine Falkenberg|
|Big Bird||Bibo||Wolfgang Draeger|
|Kermit the Frog||Kermit der Frosch||Andreas von der Meden|
|Count von Count||Graf Zahl||Alf Marholm (1973-late 2000s)
Harld Halgardt (2000s-present)
|Oscar the Grouch||Oskar der Griesgram||Gottfried Kramer (1973-1994)
Michael Lott (ca. 1994-)
|Herry Monster||Lulatsch||Jochen Sehrndt|
|Don Music||Don Schnulze||Peter Kirchberger|
|Little Bird||Klein Bibo||Inken Sommer|
|Professor Hastings||Professor Hastig||Günther Jerschke|
|Lefty the Salesman||Schlemihl||Reiner Bronnecke (early 1973)
Horst Stark (late 1973 onward)
|Mr. Snuffleupagus||Schnuffi||Peter Kirchberger|
|Prairie Dawn||Mariechen||Renate Pichler|
|Baby Bear||Baby Bär||Till Demtröder|
|Sherlock Hemlock||Sherlock Humbug||Horst Stark|
|Guy Smiley||Quizmaster Robert;
named after quizmaster Robert Lembke
|Forgetful Jones||Denkedran Jost||Wolfgang Völz|
|The Amazing Mumford||Der große Mumpitz||Helmo Kindermann|
|Thomas Twiddlebug||Papa Krabbelkäfer||Wolfgang Völz|
|Two-Headed Monster||Zweikopfmonster||Wolfgang Draeger (left head)
Wolf Rathjen & Günter Lüdke (right head)
|Dr. Nobel Price||Dr. Nobel Preis||Wolf Rathjen|
|Hoots the Owl||Huh||Frank Zander|
|Slimey||Schleimi der Regenwurm||No Dialogue|
|Meryl Sheep||Mary Schief||Unknown|
|Placido Flamingo||Blaffido Flamingo||Unknown|
|Roosevelt Franklin||Eberhart Freitag||Unknown|
Humans and Cartoon Characters
|Mr. Hooper||Herr Huber||Manfred Steffen|
|Tom||Andreas von der Meden|
|Alice Braithwaite Goodyshoes||Susanne Klickerklacker||Gisela Trowe|