Three of Sesame Street's longest-running residents are moving away.
Veteran cast members Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman are departing the series after four decades of entertaining children and giving a human foil to the lovable characters who live on the iconic block.
McGrath, 84, has been a part of the beloved children's show since its premiere in 1969 and has been a mainstay ever since. Delgado, 76, who played Luis, joined the show in 1971, while Orman, 72, who played Gordon, signed on in 1974.
What makes the news even more upsetting is that their leave doesn't appear to be voluntary. According to McGrath, who broke the news at a Q&A event at the Florida Supercon earlier this month, the three stalwarts were axed as part of the show's move from PBS to HBO.
"As of this season, I have completed my 45th season this year," McGrath told the audience. "The show has gone under a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half hour. HBO has gotten involved also. And they let all of the original cast members go."
The octogenarian actor noted two exceptions to HBO's supposed housecleaning: "Alan Muraoka -- who is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us -- and Chris Knowings, who is also young."
A rep for Sesame Street released a statement via the show’s Twitter account on Thursday, denying McGrath's claim that HBO was involved in the decision: "Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman remain a beloved part of the Sesame family and continue to represent us at public events. To us, and for millions of people worldwide, they are a treasured part of Sesame Street."
"Since the show began, we are constantly evolving our content and curriculum, and hence, our characters, to meet the educational needs of children," the statement continued. "As a result of this, our cast has changed over the years, though you can still expect to see many of them in upcoming productions. As we've stated previously, Sesame Workshop retains sole creative control over the show. HBO does not oversee the production."
Regarding our beloved cast members: pic.twitter.com/NzZ3HAuIc6— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) July 28, 2016