'The Muppet Show' ran from 1976 to 1981 and was created by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, with money from Lew Grade's ITC (it was something of a commercial gamble, given that it was completely unique - a puppet variety show for kids and grown-ups). Utilising Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street, it took the format of a variety show produced by Kermit, with assistance from the lovely Miss Piggy. Each week a series of sketches and acts would assail our faces - the Pigs in Space, Beaker, The Swedish Chef and so forth - along with a human guest star. Such was the show's popularity that human guest stars queued up to appear - Rudolf Nureyev, John Cleese, Elton John, Debbie Harry, the list is endless.

The show was impossible to dislike and became extremely popular. Almost all of the Muppets became hugely famous (Miss Piggy was even interviewed on 'Parkinson', as if she were a real person). 'Which was your favourite Muppet?' is still a great conversational opener, and general consensus has it that Animal (from the brilliantly-named 'Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem') was the coolest lump of felt and foam ever to have had somebody's hand in it.

It remained popular until it finished, in 1981, after which Jim Henson concentrated on other things, such as The Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock. There was a Muppet movie released to great commercial success in 1979 - 'The Muppet Movie', it was called - and after a couple of disappointing sequels and a long lay-off during the 80s, Muppet films now appear to be semi-regular occurences.

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