Gilbert and Sullivan sing about the letter B in episode 1845.

Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known.

Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful "topsy-turvy" worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion—fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offence, gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong. Sullivan, six years Gilbert's junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos.

The Muppet Show

Songs from The Pirates of Penzance have been performed several times by the Muppets, including a memorable Pirates medley performed on The Muppet Show by Gilda Radner and a Seven-foot-tall Talking Carrot.

Scooter also performed a version of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" in episode 412, singing a fast-patter list of all of the guest stars who had appeared on the show.

Rowlf the Dog and Sam the Eagle sang "Tit Willow" from The Mikado in episode 120.

Sesame Street

Gilbert and Sullivan at the library.
DEBUT 1980

On Sesame Street, a 1974 segment presented the "Numerical Correspondence Song", with five Anything Muppets singing a Gilbert and Sullivan-style operetta song about adding numbers.

One of the five "Numerical Correspondence" Muppets, a Fat Blue character in a Pirates-inspired costume, returned to the show years later, paired with another Fat Blue Muppet in a top hat as "Gilbert and Sullivan." They were recurring characters in the 1980s, occasionally visiting Oscar the Grouch to sing him a song about the topic of the day, aided by the human cast.

Which character was which was subject to discrepancy over the years. When they first appeared in Season 12, the admiral puppet, who was performed here by Brian Muehl, introduced himself as "Gilbert," while his top-hatted partner, performed by Michael Earl, was "Sullivan." However, later, in at least two other songs, the singers switched names. Also, in these cases, Gilbert was performed by Richard Hunt, Sullivan by Martin P. Robinson.

Their songs include:

In a mock break-out quote on the back of the 1977 Sesame Street album Big Bird Leads the Band, W. S. Gilbird and A. S. Gullivan (lyricist and composer of HMS Pinfeather) provide a rhyming tribute: "Bird, thou never wert/we do assert/so musical/as on this al-/bum."


In The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, the Muppets perform a "H.M.S. Pinafore" finale for the show.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+