...for Sesame Street -- and Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Elkmo, Oscar the Grouch and Grover -- the cast of the American children's TV show which celebrates its 40th birthday next Tuesday. In the 1970s American children's TV shows were mainly cheaply-made and often violent cartoons -- the majority still are, but Sesame Street showed how TV could be used to enrich young people's lives and retain their allegiance until they became parents. The show began as an educational project for underprivileged children but soon became a universal favourite and has spawned countless international editions and adaptations. Important people and showbiz personalities are delighted to receive invitations to appear alongside the furry puppets -- the guest on Tuesday will be America's First Lady, Michelle Obama, who said “It's probably the best thing I've done at the White House”. With due respect to the BBC's quality children's programming, it's probably true to say that Sesame Street is the most important children's show of all time. Unfortunately, it has been absent from UK screens for many years since ITV dropped it because of its American pronunciation of the Queen's English.

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