FOR decades, speculation has raged over the exact nature of Bert and Ernie’s extremely close relationship on long-running children’s TV show Sesame Street.
And now the writer behind the iconic characters has revealed their is truth behind persistent rumours the pair are gay.
Mark Saltzman, who joined the children’s television show in 1984, says he did indeed write Bert and Ernie as a same sex couple.
The popular characters, who share an apartment at 123 Sesame Street, bathe together, share a bedroom and bicker a lot and have long fascinated more curious, adult viewers of the show for pre-schoolers.
Mr Saltzman said the pair reflected his own relationship at that time.
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He added: “I remember one time a preschooler [in San Francisco] turned to her mum and asked, ‘are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ and that, coming from a preschooler, was fun.
“That got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it.
“And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”
Sesame Street is known for tackling difficult and confusing social issues with child-friendly storylines, such as Elmo’s mother losing her job in the recession and having to rein in spending on toys to make ends meet, and his father going off to war.
A Nigerian version of the show incorporated a Muppet with HIV.
Sesame Street had previously described Bert and Ernie as “best friends”.