Sesame Street (partially found test pilots of children’s educational television series; 1969)
Sesame Street is an educational children’s television series that has been airing since 1969. Ever since its premiere, it’s been the most well-known and popular children’s show in North America, and has even aired in foreign countries in the form of dubs and co-productions since 1971. But before the first episode’s broadcast on November 10th, 1969, there was a series of five ”test pilots” that aired in the summer of 1969.
The pilots were made to test how audiences felt about the show and its format. In the pilots, the street segments did not include any muppet characters, and there was a segment called “The Man from Alphabet” which never appeared in the final series. Some characters like Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch were also absent, and Gordon was played by a different actor, the late Garrett Saunders, also known as “the missing Gordon.”
When the audience testing revealed that the children were more interested in the Muppet and animated segments, the muppet characters were incorporated into the street segments.
Out of the five test pilots that aired, only the first one is currently available online in full. The first pilot was also released onto the Sesame Street Old School Vol. 2 DVD box set as a bonus episode, making it the only pilot released onto DVD. Footage from the fifth pilot (a Bert and Ernie skit on the letter D) also exists online.
- The Muppet Wiki page on the test pilots. Retrieved 30 Mar '20
- YouGov page on Sesame Street. Retrieved 30 Mar '20
- The Guardian article on Sesame Street's 50th anniversary, mentions the pilots. Retrieved 30 Mar '20
- Henson's "Red Book" section from July 9th-18th, 1969, which has information on the 5 test pilots. Retrieved 30 Mar '20