Aardvarks and rabbits: Acclaimed American kids' show Arthur says goodbye

Arthur - Theme Song

The show is based on the series of Arthur Adventure children’s books by Marc Brown.

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – These wonderful kind of days in a neighbourhood where aardvarks, rabbits and other animals go to school, and learn about life and play, are ending.

Arthur, the beloved and educational children’s show, is coming to a close after 25 years, PBS confirmed last week. The show’s final season will air in winter next year.

The show, based on the series of Arthur Adventure children’s books by Marc Brown, wrapped up production almost two years ago, according to one of the show’s writers Kathy Waugh.

In an episode that aired last month of Finding D.W., a podcast about the series, she said the team had disbanded.

“Arthur is no longer in production,” she told podcast host Jason Szwimer. “We had our wrap party two years ago.”

An executive producer on the show, Ms Carol Greenwald, confirmed that the series would be ending. She said episodes of the show would continue to be available on PBS Kids, but that no new ones would air after next year.

“Arthur is the longest-running kids’ animated series in history and is known for teaching kindness, empathy and inclusion through many groundbreaking moments to generations of viewers,” Ms Greenwald said. She did not offer a reason for the show’s cancellation.

She said the producer GBH and PBS Kids were “continuing to work together on additional Arthur content, sharing the lessons of Arthur and his friends in new ways”.

On the podcast, Ms Waugh said she did not know whether the cancellation was driven by a ratings issue or PBS just felt that the show needed to be retired. She added that she felt PBS had made a mistake.

During its run of more than two decades, Arthur won an enduring audience and a number of awards, including multiple Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Children’s Animated Programme, as well as a Peabody Award.

The show first aired on PBS in 1996 and for a time ranked as the most popular television show for children ages two to 11.

In the series as in the books, Arthur (an aardvark in third grade), his friends (a variety of other anthropomorphised animals) and their school faculty and families have learning lessons about everything including friendship, schoolwork and loss.

Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley, son of reggae pioneer Bob Marley, performed the theme song – itself about empathy and believing in yourself and others.

Arthur – Theme Song

link youtube: https://www.youtube.com/embed/j40YC5d6RzA?feature=oembed

Available to a wide audience on public television, Arthur was the rare children’s series that garnered fans among both children and their parents.

The main character, Arthur, had an “Everyman” quality to him that made him so relatable, Ms Waugh said on the podcast.

“The best kids’ television – and Arthur is absolutely at the apex of that particular genre – expands a child’s life, reflects a child’s life and makes children of all shapes and sizes feel seen,” she said.

She added that Arthur, unlike many children’s shows that it outlived, confronted not only the experiences of the playground and classroom, but also difficult realities like bullying, the fear of death and cancer.

The tone of the show reflected that, she said. Being incessantly cheerful or chirpy, she said, would have been “a disservice to children”.

Ms Waugh said the show validated children’s “bad feelings, their mad feelings, their hurt” and sought to help children grow and shape their worlds.

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