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Sesamstrasse title card from Season 34
First aired January 8, 1973
Last aired
Network ARD (broadcaster)
Seasons 36
No. of episodes 2549
Samson (bear), Tiffy (pink bird), Finchen (snail), Buh (owl), Feli Filu (blue monster), and Rumpel the Grouch with Gustav (caterpillar).

Sesamstrasse ("Sesamstraße" in German) is the international version of Sesame Street in Germany. Sesamstrasse was the first co-production of Sesame Street outside the United States.

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.



For a list of episodes see Sesamstrasse Episodes.

The Dubbed Era: 1973-1977

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.

The Studio Era: 1978-1988

Uwe and Lilo with Samson, Uli von Bödefeld, and Tiffy (ca. 1979)
Samson and Bibo (ca. 1983)

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.

The early puppets were built by Kermit Love; nowadays Sesame Workshop builds the puppets for Sesamstrasse.

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 Bicycle Shop Era: 1989-1999

Bettina (#2) and Schorsch with Samson, Rumpel, and Tiffy (ca. 1990)

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.

The Marketplace Era: 2000-present

The current intro from 2006

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.

In 2005, after a 27 year-presence on the show, Tiffy was replaced with single mom Moni (2005-2007) and her pink and furry daughter Lena (2005-present). [1]

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.

As more and more previously used Muppets were borrowed from Sesame Workshop, more secondary characters evolved in their own sketches, such as the green Wolf vom Wörtersee in 2007.

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.

On December 24, 2008, a German-produced, 45-minute Christmas special called Weihnachten mit Ernie und Bert aired, featuring Ernie, Bert, and an Anything Muppet Santa Claus.


Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the show in 2003
Ilse, Lilo, Uwe, and Horst with Samson and Tiffy (ca. 1981)
Bettina #2, Opa Brass, Schorsch, Helmi, Jivana, and Mucke with Rumpel, Samson, Buh, Tiffy, and Finchen
See Sesamstrasse Characters, Sesamstrasse Performers, and Sesamstrasse Actors.


Human Cast

Street residents
  • Liselotte Pulver as Lilo (paired with Henning, Uwe, and Manfred, 1978-1983)
  • Henning Venske as Henning (paired with Lilo, 1978-1979)
  • Uwe Friedrichsen as Uwe (paired with Lilo, 1979-1982)
  • Horst Janson as Horst (paired with Ilse and Ute, 1979-1983)
  • Ilse Biberti as Ilse (paired with Horst, 1980-1981)
  • Ute Willing as Ute (paired with Horst, 1981-1983)
  • Manfred Krug as Manfred (paired with Lilo, 1982-1983)
  • Elisabeth Vitouch as Elisabeth (paired with Horst and Manfred, 1979-1982)
  • Gernot Endemann as Schorsch (paired with Bettina #1 & #2, 1986-1999)
  • Hildegard Krekel as Bettina #1 (paired with Schorsch, 1986-1989)
  • Kirsten Spick as Bettina #2 (paired with Schorsch, 1989-1999)
  • Ferdinand Dux as Opa Brass (1992-2000)
  • Wolfgang Gerdes as Mucke (1995-1996)
  • Senta Bonneval as Helmi (1995-1999)
  • Alexander Geringas as Alex (1995-2000)
  • Vijak Bajani as Jivana (1995-2001)
  • Nils Julius as Nils (2000-present)
  • Caroline Kiesewetter as Caro #1 (2000-2002)
  • Miriam Krause as Caro #2 (2002-2006)
  • Dirk Bach as Pepe (2000-2007)
  • Anke Engelke as Anke (2003-2004)
  • Helen Zellweger as Helen (2004-2005)
  • Mehmet Yilmaz as Mehmet (2003-present)
  • Franziska Troegner as Ella (2003-present)
  • Annette Frier as Annette (2005-present)
  • Adele Neuhauser as Frau Kowalski (2008-present)

Sketch actors

Character Translations and Voices


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)
Robert Missler(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
Zoe Sina Tanja Dohse
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
Reiner Bronnecke
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

Bob   Lutz Mackensy
Susan Susanne Christa Berndl
Gordon   Volker Lechtenbrink
Mr. Hooper Herr Huber Manfred Steffen
Tom   Andreas von der Meden
Alice Braithwaite Goodyshoes Susanne Klickerklacker Gisela Trowe

See also

External links

  • Official website
  • German site for Fabula Puppet Makers
  • German fan club site with episode guide
  • The German voiceover cast from 1973


  1. An employee at NDR

This article uses material from the "Sesamstrasse" article on the Muppet wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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