The organisation behind US children's television series Sesame Street has denied that two of the show's characters, Bert and Ernie are gay, after one of the show's writers said they were a couple.
Mark Saltzman said in an interview with lifestyle publication Queerty that the characters reflected experiences he had during his relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman.
But Sesame Workshop refuted this in a statement saying the pair were just "best friends.
"They were created to teach preschoolers 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."
Bert and Ernie have appeared on the preschool education programme since it first aired in the US in 1969.
The characters live in a flat together on the fictional street and sleep in separate beds.
The puppets were initially operated by Muppets creator Jim Henson and Star Wars puppeteer Frank Oz.
Sesame Street writer Jon Stone has previously said that Bert And Ernie's relationship reflected the real life dynamic between Henson and Oz.
Saltzman, a longtime scriptwriter on the show who also wrote over 50 songs for Sesame Street, said he wrote Bert and Ernie as a loving couple.
He said: "I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to his mom and asked 'are Bert & Ernie lovers?' And that, coming from a preschooler 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 and Ernie, they were. I didn't have any other way to contextualise them."