Yesterday a picture of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the launch of the second series of children’s TV show Sesame Tree was published in the media. Today, in the true spirit of satire, the Belfast Telegraph asked four humourists to imagine what they might be saying . . .
Spot the Muppet — it’s the photograph everyone’s talking about — our political puppet-masters meet The Sesame Tree crew.
The First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness made a few new friends this week when they set aside serious politics for a while to attend the launch of the second series of TV show Sesame Tree.
The programme, which airs on BBC’s CBeebies from November 22, is Northern Ireland’s own take on Sesame Street and features a number of characters, including Hilda, Potto and new squirrel Archie.
The photograph to mark the launch shows a smiling Robinson and McGuinness sitting in a cinema, surrounded by the stars of the popular network show.
Key character Potto, who is pictured with a reassuring hand on McGuinness’s shoulder, hosts his very own Question Time, Sesame Tree-style.
Each week a child from Northern Ireland poses a question to the puppets, sending it though Potto’s Big Whizzing Machine.
The Sesame Tree show aims to promote tolerance and co-operation among children in the province and is the first network children’s television show written and produced in Northern Ireland, with an entirely local cast and crew.
The photograph of the politicians with Hilda, Potto and Archie appeared in several newspapers yesterday and was also discussed on Radio Ulster’s Talkback show.
When he saw the picture, Belfast Telegraph political editor David Gordon quipped: “Shock new Executive line-up unveiled.”
Belfast comedian John Linehan, aka May McFettridge, said it was a “brilliant photo”, adding: “It’s great that these two men can sit down together and have a laugh like this with a bunch of muppets, but then again, they’re used to dealing with muppets.”
He suggested the caption: “I take it the big purple one is the new Environment Minister.”
Journalist and The Troubles According To My Da actor Ivan Little cracked: “No wonder you're laughing, Martin. It's not the first time you've sat in front of the blokes with the woolly faces.”
“Aye — and you know all about the Third Farce, Peter.”
Belfast comedienne Nuala McKeever, formerly of the Hole In The Wall gang, enjoyed the photograph so much she came up with a witty caption to accompany it. The Belfast Telegraph columnist put her writing skills to the test and not only managed to lampoon the First Minister and his deputy, but all the ministers in the Executive.
Tim McGarry, writer, comedian, actor and chairman of The Blame Game, found the photograph very entertaining. “It's good, but it's still not as funny as Stormont Live,” he said. Tim is currently enjoying doing stand-up comedy again and touring his show Tim McGarry’s Irish History Lesson. His caption reflected his black humour.
William Caulfield, comedian and actor, who achieved popularity as the creator and star of ‘Our Jimmy’, admitted that the photograph was “a truly great one”. He said it provided great material for comedy and had no trouble in putting words in the mouths of our two most recognisable political leaders — as well as Peter and Martin.
Belfast comic and impressionist John McBlain said it was a “great photograph”, which he intended to frame and hang on his bathroom wall. He also came up with a number of funny captions to run alongside the photograph; unfortunately, his gift for mimicking our political leaders was wasted in print, but he wasted no time in using his talent for a witty quip.
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