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Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

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Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

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Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

 |  Today Headlines

The PBS Children’s TV Show arthur begins its 25th and final season next month. Produced by WGBH, the aardvark (yes, it’s an aardvark) will live on in reruns, digital shorts and a podcast – but no new episodes are planned.

Presented in 80 countries, arthur won seven Emmy Awards and a Peabody. The Marc Brown books that inspired the series have sold nearly 70 million copies since the first edition appeared in 1976.

Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

 |  Today Headlines
Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

 |  Today Headlines

To mark the end of an era, Brown reflects on Arthur’s legacy in the new book, Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur.

With his big round glasses, his small ears and his two dashes as a nose, Arthur looks more like a mouse with glasses than an aardvark. But it didn’t start like that. In fact, Brown’s original drawings of Arthur are more anatomically correct. On the cover of the very first book, Arthur’s nosehe has a long muzzle and he doesn’t look happy.

“I sometimes think I was saved by Arthur,” Brown says. In 1976 he was unemployed. “Arthur had a problem with his nose and I had a problem in my life,” he recalled. The small Boston college where he taught has announced its closure. One night soon after, her son asked her for a bedtime story. Brown asked him what it was about. His son replied, “a weird animal.”

“I don’t know why, I had to think alphabetically because aardvarks popped into my head and then he wanted to know his name,” Brown said. Thinking alliteratively, Arthur the aardvark was born. Then his son asked him to draw him a picture, “and what stood out to me the most about the aardvarks was their noses… So this story became that his nose was a problem.”

Such a problem that Arthur considers getting his nose done:

“Arthur has tried on all kinds of noses.



the elephant


Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

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Marc Brown thought he had a good story on his hands. His editor too. Arthur’s nose was followed by Arthur’s eyes, Arthur’s Valentine’s Day and 18 other books before Tales launched as a TV show – 20 years later.

With its infectious opening theme song, Believe in yourselfwritten by Judy Henderson and Jerry DeVilliers, Jr and performed by Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, arthur debuted on PBS on October 7, 1996.

True to Brown’s vision, Elwood City’s children’s menagerie – 3rd grader Arthur, his often ruthless little sister DW, Buster, Binky, Francine and the others argue, tease, get into trouble and fear what that they don’t understand.

“Our children are not perfect on arthur because kids around the world aren’t perfect,” says Carol Greenwald, executive producer of the TV series from the start. “If they can see other kids on screen making mistakes and going the wrong way, but then kind of understanding it and solving it, that’s really helpful.”

Various characters and experiences have been a constant on arthur. In the first episode, Arthur’s eyes, the titular mammal learns that it needs glasses. Francine calls it “four eyes”. The other children laugh, except Buster. “Some people need glasses to see, Francine. That’s good,” he told her.

For Greenwald, the reaction to Arthur’s eyes was a revelation. “Shortly after it aired, I started getting mail from blind kids saying it was so meaningful for us to see a show about someone wearing glasses,” Greenwald recalled. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I mean, if we can reach these kids just showing someone wearing glasses, imagine if we had a blind character. So we created a blind character.” Her name is Marina, and through her friendship with Prunella, young viewers learn what it’s like to navigate the world with vision loss.

arthurThe writers and producers of introduced Carl, a character on the autism spectrum. Binky has food allergies. George is dyslexic. When Buster learned he had asthma, 6-year-old viewer Katerina Daley took notice. “When I was a kid with asthma, I had never seen someone like me on TV before,” Daley said.

Today, Daley is a list writer for the website Screening. She also works for The Arc, a non-profit organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “I jokingly call myself a disability advocate since kindergarten,” she says. Daley combined his interests in the Screening listicle, 10 Things From Arthur From PBS That Were Ahead Of Their Time.

When asked why she became a hardcore arthur fan, Daley makes a long list.

“I loved the characters. I loved the friendship between Arthur and Buster. I loved DW, the sarcastic little sister…I loved seeing parts of myself in all the characters.” Daley continues, “I loved the diversity of all the characters, how each personality was totally different, how each family was different, how it was all about being yourself and believing in yourself.”

But not all of this diversity has been universally accepted. In 2019, Alabama Public Television refused to air an episode featuring a same-sex marriage between Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, and his partner Patrick. In 2005, funding for the spin-off Buster Postcards was put in jeopardy when the titular bunny encountered Vermont families with two moms. At the time, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings wrote a letter to PBS chief Pat Mitchell reminding him that the show had received funding from the Department of Education. She added that “many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.”

Today, Spellings acknowledges, times have changed. In a statement to NPR, she writes: “The world is very different today. Every level of government – and every form of media – now reflects a greater openness to the diverse and multi-faceted stories that Americans can tell about themselves. themselves, their lives, and the country we share.”

Telling kids the truth “is the most important thing we’ve done,” says Marc Brown, referring to the hundreds of writers, animators, producers and others who have contributed arthur to life over the decades.

“As adults, we owe children the truth,” Brown says. “They’re trying to create a foundation that they can build their lives on, and if there’s no truth in that foundation, things get pretty shaky.”

As the last line of Brown’s very first book said over 45 years ago: “Arthur is so much more than his nose.

Book and TV character Arthur begins his final season of new episodes : NPR

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