A few months ago the geek-kids and I were invited along to a very special event at the CBeebies studios in Manchester. We were to view a first cut of the very first episode of their new series, The Furchester Hotel, and we would also get the chance to go behind the scenes and see filming in progress.
The Furchester Hotel is a very exciting colloboration between the BBC and Sesame Street Studios, and sees the well-loved Sesame Street characters Elmo and Cookie Monster joining an all new Muppet-cast in a series aimed at 3-6 year olds. As guests arrive at the hotel they are greeted by monster owner Funella Furchester, her loving husband, Furgus Fuzz, and their daughter, the unflappable Phoebe Furchester-Fuzz. Elmo, Phoebe’s cousin who is on an extended visit and Cookie Monster, who has landed his dream job as room service and dining room waiter, join the Furchester family at the hotel. Completing the ensemble is Isabel, a furry bell monster – guests won’t get any attention until she dings to announce their arrival!
I do sometimes wonder if my kids realise quite how lucky they are with some of the opportunities blogging has given them. We arrived at the CBeebies studios to be greeted by a giant-sized Elmo and Cookie Monster. I don’t think my kids have ever really known about Elmo and Cookie Monster but they were both quite keen to get their photos taken with them anyway.
We were then summoned upstairs to a meeting room where Kay Benbow, CBeebies controller, told us a little about the new series, and we then got to watch the first episode. It was a very early cut, and things like the opening credits weren’t in yet, but the story was engaging and the kids were totally gripped.
At the end of the episode we were told there was a special treat for us, and in came all the characters with their puppeteers! They moved around the room talking to the kids and interacting with them, and the kids thought it was fantastic. Their highlight for my two was definitely meeting Cookie Monster.
After meeting the characters we also had the chance to go down to the studio where the series was being filmed, and see the characters in action. This was fascinating – the set has all been built with the floors at about chest height so that the puppeteers can lift the puppets up into the set to operate them. There was no photography allowed for this part as filming was taking place, so sadly I can’t share the experience with you all. As someone who always wants to know how things work I was really interested to see more of how a show like this is made.
The first episode of The Furchester Hotel previews on CBeebies on Friday 26th September, and based on what we’ve seen of it it’s going to be great. We’ll definitely be tuning in to see the finished product!
Disclosure: We were invited by CBeebies to an exclusive Blogger event where we got to see behind the scenes at The Furchester Hotel.