“An icon from our youth”, Prime Minister Rutte said in a first reaction to the death of Aart Staartjes. And with that he seems to express a feeling that very many people have when they think of the actor and television maker.
Staartjes was known for iconic programs such as Sesame Street, Klokhuis and the arrival of Sinterklaas. He also worked behind the scenes on programs such as De Film by uncle Willem and De Stratemakeropzeeshow.
According to Jop Euwijk, curator at the Media and Sound Institute, Staartjes has played a decisive role in Dutch television. “Children’s TV would have been a lot more boring without him,” he says. “Previously it was all a bit silly. He created funny, layered characters. As a child you can learn a lot from that.”
In the 70s, according to Euwijk, Staartjes managed to bring the rebellious youth culture to television. He then succeeded in making relevant children’s television for nearly fifty years. The strength of his work was that it took children seriously and was never good, says Euwijk. “Aart Staartjes is in the DNA of Dutch television.”
Of course his role in Sesame Street has been enormously decisive. A role he played for almost 40 years. “My children also know him as Mr. Aart, just as I know him,” says Euwijk.
‘More exciting program’
“Sesame Street became a much more exciting program with such a grumpy man. You just keep that up.” According to Euwijk, the role of a surly grandfather with a good heart was constantly being refined to keep up with the times.
“Mr. Aart was very different in the 80s than in the 90s, and that was very different from now. In the beginning, for example, he was much surer. They kept the program very fresh.”