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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
Sesame Street's new NI residents
Elmo will feature in the NI version of Sesame Street
Two new Sesame Street characters are to be unveiled when a Northern Ireland version of the children's TV classic is broadcast next year.

Familiar favourites such as Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and Elmo will feature alongside the new characters in 20 episodes being broadcast by the BBC from February.

Although the original series was set in New York, the Northern Ireland version of Sesame Street will contain things some adult Big Apple residents may need help understanding, such as turf-cutting.

In fact, much of the show will be set in a tree with one of its key aims being to teach town-dwelling tots in Northern Ireland about rural life.

Each 15-minute episode will also offer content which is in keeping with the Northern Ireland curriculum for children aged three to six.

'Sharing and caring'

Executive producer Colin Williams, of Belfast-based production company SixteenSouth, said of the forthcoming series: "It is looking at Northern Ireland culture and teaching the kids skills like sharing and caring.

"It is talking about differences in people and looking at different cultures."

Sesame Street regulars
Sesame Street's famous faces include double act Bert and Ernie

The show is being produced by SixteenSouth in cooperation with the Sesame Workshop, the US organisation behind the landmark series.

Academics from Northern Ireland's oldest university, Queen's University in Belfast, are also involved.

Mr Williams added: "The two new characters are being designed for us and we will be creating the puppet characters to help children to find answers to the questions that they have."

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