The makers of Sesame Street have denied that the classic characters Bertie and Ernie are homosexuals.
Their statement comes after one of the writers on the children’s TV show said he believed the educational puppets were “lovers”.
Mark Saltzman told the gay-orientated magazine Queerty: “I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle (mentioned) a pre-schooler in the city turned to mom and asked are ‘Bert & Ernie lovers?’
“And that, coming from a pre-schooler was fun.
“And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were.
“I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”
Mr Saltzman was in a relationship with one of Sesame Street’s other writers Arnold Glassman for more than 20 years.
He continued: “The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as ‘Bert and Ernie’.”
Rumours have swirled for years that Bert and Ernie might be more than just friends, with the puppets known to sleep in the same double bed at night.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation that makes Sesame Street, said in a statement: “As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends.
“They were created to teach pre-schoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation.”
The makers of Sesame Street were forced to say in 2011 that Bert and Ernie would not be getting married.
It came after 9,000 people signed a petition calling for the puppets to tie the knot.
A year earlier Bert was said to have hinted he was a homosexual when he compared his hair to that of the A-Team character Mr T.
He said of his hair: “The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo’, a little less hawk’.”
The word “mo” is short for “homosexual” in some parts of the gay community.