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World’s Longest Street Extends Into The UK Via Belfast – Sesame Tree Returns To TV With Second Series This Month

Published on:  11 Nov 2010

Sesame Tree, a version of Sesame Street made entirely in Northern Ireland, will return to TV screens on 22nd November 2010 with a brand new series.

The second series of the show will bring back the residents of the Sesame Tree, Hilda and Potto and introduces Archie, (short for Archimedes) a young squirrel who loves maths. Sesame Tree combines educational value and entertainment through a series of mini-documentaries which show contemporary life in Northern Ireland through the eyes of local children and hilarious Muppet action inside the Tree.

Aligned with the Northern Ireland Statutory Curriculum, Sesame Tree aims to present positive images to children of themselves and others and to emphasise the importance of valuing diversity and becoming aware of our common humanity. The TV series, which will be broadcast on CBeebies, also aims to help those working with young children in Northern Ireland to encourage personal and mutual understanding.

Sesame Tree is produced by Sixteen South Television, a Belfast based production company, and Sesame Workshop, the not-for-profit organisation behind Sesame Street. The project is funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen.

Sixteen South’s founder and Sesame Tree’s Executive Producer Colin Williams said: “Following the success of Sesame Tree’s first series on BBC Northern Ireland, we’re delighted that our second series has been acquired by and produced for CBeebies.

“Bringing this second series to life has been a lot of fun!  The show is rooted in Sesame Street’s approach to producing compelling educational content which helps children to learn and reach their full potential – along with great humour, wonderful new music and the sheer entertainment provided by our Muppet characters.

“I’m thrilled that Sesame Tree, which was made for and by the people of Northern Ireland, has been taken by CBeebies for broadcast to the whole of the UK. The programme continues to show contemporary life here in Northern Ireland and addresses issues such as respecting differences, sharing and dealing with new experiences such as going to school for the first time – things that are really important for young children not just in Northern Ireland but everywhere”

Sesame Tree’s content was developed in consultation with education experts and practitioners from Northern Ireland’s early years’ community. The TV series will be supported by educational outreach materials for the Foundation Stage and a website –bbc.co.uk/sesametree – which has been developed by BBC NI Learning.

Dr Charlotte Cole, Senior Vice President, Global Education for Sesame Workshop visited Belfast for today’s launch. She said: “Sesame Workshop is committed to developing innovative, engaging and above all educational content which reaches children, parents, teachers and caregivers through a range of media – from TV shows to classrooms to community outreach programmes. On Sesame Tree, we have worked in collaboration with local researchers, education experts and production partners in Northern Ireland, to create resources which focus on social inclusion, encouraging children to develop as individuals and as members of the larger community.  We believe that Sesame Tree will have a long term, positive impact on how today’s young children perceive the world around them and their own potential role in that world.

”And while Sesame Tree is rooted in life in Northern Ireland, we are confident that its humour, energy and educational values will connect with children across the UK, particularly following the success of the first series on CBeebies.”

The Sesame Tree Project is funded by the International Fund for Ireland which exists to promote integration and reconciliation throughout Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.

Commenting on its support for the Project, Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “The young children who will watch, and I’m sure enjoy, this new series of Sesame Tree represent the future of our society. Research has shown that children as young as three can pick up negative attitudes to others and these negative attitudes can develop into prejudice by the age of six.

“The International Fund for Ireland is happy to support the Sesame Tree Project because of its potential to contribute towards our objectives and we feel it could make a unique and lasting contribution to how our children relate to each other, helping them live, learn and play together. We are confident that Sesame Tree’s combination of entertaining and educational TV content, community outreach and education materials can build a foundation of mutual respect and tolerance which will have long term, positive benefits for the future.”

The Sesame Tree project has also been supported by Northern Ireland Screen, which works to accelerate the development of a dynamic and sustainable screen industry and culture in Northern Ireland.  

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen said: “We were delighted that the Sesame Workshop came back to Northern Ireland to produce the second series of Sesame Tree together with Sixteen South. We are sure that the second series will be even more successful than the first.  Northern Ireland Screen is very keen to fund children’s programming as part of our commitment to developing a sustainable and dynamic screen industry in Northern Ireland.”

Sesame Tree will be broadcast from 22nd November on CBeebies at 10.40am. The series includes 20 x 14 minute episodes. Educational materials to support the series will be distributed to schools in Northern Ireland in early 2011.

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