The 1990s video series Ben & Eddie, which teaches children to trust God in troubled times, has been rereleased online.
The series tells the story of an orphaned puppy in New York City named Eddie who has built up an emotional wall to keep from getting hurt again. But after he is befriended by a Christian named Ben, Eddie comes to learn of God’s love and realizes Jesus can be his “lifetime friend”—and help him learn to love and trust others. Punctuated with humor and music, the episodes aim to teach younger children biblical truths about topics like fear, forgiveness, and prayer.
The series stars Ben Harney as Ben and Camille Kampouris, who voices and performs the puppet Eddie. Harney is a Tony Award-winning actor for his role in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Kampouris was one of Jim Henson’s Muppeters for 12 years and appeared on Sesame Street for 10 seasons. The duo coproduced the series while they both attended Times Square Church in New York City. Music for Ben & Eddie was written by executive producer John Thompson, who co-wrote the Dove Award-winning Christian song “El Shaddai.”
Today, Harney attends Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, pastored by A.C. Bernard. Kampouris attends Christ Church NYC, pastored by Keith Paulus, and is a BibleMesh board member.
Four 25-minute episodes of Ben & Eddie have been made available free on YouTube. Kampouris hopes they will be a timely resource for children and parents shut in during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is so much fear among parents today, and it filters down to their children,” she said. “Parents are losing their jobs; they’re concerned about their families’ health. So kids are scared too. These episodes point kids to Jesus. The Lord wants to reach inside of every child and become personally real to each one.”
If the series’ success three decades ago is any indication, the rerelease appears poised to help a new generation overcome its fears. Among letters from children who watched Ben & Eddie in the 1990s, one young viewer said truths from the show calmed him as he witnessed domestic violence in his home from under a bid. Another child wrote that her struggle with weight made her worry that no one loved her. She wanted to talk with Eddie about it.
At times, Kampouris would honor such requests by calling children on the phone in Eddie’s voice. The right-handed Kampouris also would answer kids’ letters by writing with her left hand to make her writing appear to match the age of her character.
All the effort made a difference. Years later, Kampouris and Harney still get notes from people whose lives were impacted by Ben & Eddie. “Emily still has the letters Eddie wrote her,” one parent wrote of her daughter. “Do you remember her? Eddie called her on Easter.”
To Harney and Kampouris, such responses show the project fulfilled its purpose. Now they hope to extend that purpose into a new generation of viewers.
Ben & Eddie episodes are available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM7Ce1gDzIGVxBAMA-Pvbow/featured.