THESE ARE the people in your neighbourhood. In your neighbourhood. The people that you meet each day. Never went away, although you’ll be hard pressed to find it on UK telly today, but latterday episodes saw a vexing decline in psychedelic animations, especially that one that went inside a pinball machine (with accompanying Fool’s Gold-eque jazz-funk melody – “Onetwothree four five, sixseveneight nine ten, eleventwelve!”). And the classic “One of these kids is doing his own thing; now it’s time to play our game” brainstretcher. And JIM HENSON him very self as the falling over chef (“Niiiiiiine strawberry deseeeeeeeerts!” Crash!). Not forgetting the silent-film painter (“I’m gonna paint a seven!”) whose creations ended up on the arse of a fat bloke or a steam roller (“My seven!!!”), and that meaningless number at the start. We liked the indefatigable long-armed Yoda-voiced blue thing Grover, especially as comedy waiter serving generic blue-faced customer in Charlie’s restaurant, less so when in conversation with overcute American kiddies: “Say Jon-Jon…do you know what co-operation is?” Plus a raincoated Kermit in “fast-breaking” news reports: “We’ve just heard that Humpty-Dumpty has had a great fall…” and gameshow host Guy Smiley and Billy Joelesque piano-headbanging musician Don Music. Bert and Ernie (names inspired by two characters in Frank Capra’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE) and Cookie Monster (also Errol Brown-alike Gordon) remained jovial constants, but Big Bird was always a top in-need-of-a-slap wanker. Episodes where news-stand owner MR “MR LOOPER” HOOPER died, and where they finally got to see inept mammoth-thing MR SNUFFLEUPAGUS remain vaguely seminal.