Major changes coming to beloved children’s show Sesame Street

Sesame Street will favour narrative-driven episodes from 2025.

Sesame Street will favour narrative-driven episodes from 2025. Photo: Getty

Beloved children’s show Sesame Street will be shaking up its format for the first time in more than 50 years to “dive further into the narrative”.

In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Youngwood, the CEO of Sesame Workshop confirmed the show would be undergoing some changes when its 56th season premieres in 2025.

Instead of the “magazine-style” format of each episode, Sesame Street from 2025 and beyond will favour two “more narrative-driven” segments that will run for 11 minutes each.

Wedged between the two longer segments will be a new animated series titled Tales From 123.

Chief creative development and production officer for Sesame Workshop, Kay Wilson Stallings, told The Hollywood Reporter the changes will allow for more “dynamic” and “sophisticated” stories.

The two stories told in 11 minutes could focus on a core character from Sesame Street, which would be complemented by the second story adding “a little bit more levity and a lot more character moments”, Wilson Stallings said.

“Both the A story and the B story will come together in some way to really help us with whatever curricular focus that we’re trying to have, what lesson we’re trying to make.

“Kids love a little bit of peril, they love having emotional stakes, and in nine minutes, it’s kind of hard to really dive into those areas really effectively.

“And so, by opening up these segments and making them longer, it’s going to give us an opportunity to really serve up what we know from research, what we know from across the industry, what we know from our curriculum and education experts, what we know kids are looking for.”

Sesame Street’s first major change in years

The change in format will be the first major change for Sesame Street since 2016, when episodes were cut from an hour to 30 minutes.

Premiering in 1969, characters such as Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch have delighted young audiences and provided educational content.

The original idea behind Sesame Street was to create a program to help disadvantaged children prepare for school.

Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett worked alongside educational advisers, researchers, television producers and artists to create the longest-running children’s show in history.

Over the years, there have been many storylines on Sesame Street to help viewers navigate their own lives.

NEW YORK - 1970: Puppeteer Jim Henson (L), holding Ernie, and puppeteer Frank Oz (R), holding Bert, entertain children during rehearsals for an episode of Sesame Street at Reeves TeleTape Studio in March 1970 in New York City, New York. (Photo by David Attie/Getty Images)

Sesame Street has been going strong since 1969.

For example, the adults on Sesame Street thought Mr Snuffleupagus was Big Bird’s imaginary friend.

The adults didn’t believe the shaggy elephant-like creature was real until 1985, when Snuffy was revealed.

“In the wake of a string of high-profile child abuse cases, we wanted to show children that the caring adults in their lives would believe them,” Sesame Workshop explained.

“By acknowledging that Big Bird was right about Snuffy all along,
Sesame Street validated children’s feelings, encouraging them to share important things with their parents and caregivers.”

Sesame Street has tackled issues such as race, the HIV/AIDs crisis, September 11, Hurricane Katrina and pioneered “empathy-building” co-productions in high-conflict areas.

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