‘Arthur’ will soon come to an end.
PBS Kids plans to end the long-running children’s series after 25 seasons, said an original developer of the show during a podcast released Wednesday. The final season will air in 2022.
Kathy Waugh, who was a guest on the Finding DW podcast, said the animated series is no longer in production. She said the show’s wrap party was two years ago.
“I think (PBS) made a mistake, and I think ‘Arthur’ should come back and I know I’m not alone in thinking they made a mistake,” Waugh said. “I don’t know if it was a ratings issue or if it felt like it needed to be retired.”
The series, which first aired in 1996, is based on the popular book series by Marc Brown, who created the Arthur character in 1976. It stars the aardvark character along with his family and friends.
Executive producer Carol Greenwald said PBS Kids will continue to air reruns of the show.
During its more than two-decade run, ‘Arthur’ won an enduring audience and a number of awards, including multiple Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program, 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 2 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 adventures, learning lessons about everything including friendship, schoolwork, public libraries and loss.
Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley, performed the theme song — itself about empathy and believing in yourself and others.
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, 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,” Waugh 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.”
— With inputs from New York Times