Oscar the Grouch will be less miserable, with Sesame Street getting Kennedy Centre Honours

Recipients of the 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors pose for a group photo in Washington on Dec 7, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (AFP) - Generations of children around the world have grown up learning their ABCs and 123s from the lovable muppets in Sesame Street.

And as the pioneering television programme turns 50, it is as popular as ever.

It is also about to earn one of America's top cultural awards, to go along with a pile of nearly 200 Emmys.

At a gala in Washington on Sunday (Dec 8), it is set to become the first TV show to earn the Kennedy Centre Honours.

Since its debut in November 1969 on American public television, the famous address has taken on many forms in more than 150 countries.

In Afghanistan, it is Baghch-e-Simsim. In Latin America, it is Plaza Sesamo.

But the message - one that an estimated 86 million American children alone have watched and absorbed - is the same: the importance of education, inclusiveness, acceptance and kindness.

It just happens to be delivered by a cast of colourful characters from Bert and Ernie to Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch.

They mingle with children - and a massive rotating cast of celebrity guest stars - to teach children the basics in a captivating mix of live action, songs, puppetry and laughter.

Sesame Street was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, who co-founded Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) in 1968.

The following year, the show launched and, just a few years later, was already an American icon.

The pair will accept the Kennedy Centre Honours on behalf of the programme, which also featured the artistry of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson.

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