On Monday at 7:23 a.m., George Webster made television history when he bounced off CBeebies’ house.
Most young viewers would not have known they were watching an iconic television moment: to them, Webster was another smiling adult, dressed in brightly colored clothing and talking to Dodge, the CBeebies dog.
Webster is the BBC’s first child presenter with Down syndrome, but his disability was not mentioned. He introduced himself simply as George, a 21-year-old from Leeds who enjoys cooking, singing and dancing.
The fact that she was not given any special treatment made it even more important for many parents who were looking at home.
“CBeebies, you created a mother of a little boy like George so excited. You’re the best, “tweeted Karen Taylor. A father posted a picture of himself and his daughter, who has Down’s, saying,” Go George !!! We are very excited to see you. “
Another wrote, “My boy has autism and he turned to me and said,‘ I like George, Dad. That’s all you need to know. Thanks CBeebies. You did a wonderful thing today. “
Back home in Leeds, Webster was overwhelmed by the reaction. He had previously recorded his debut on CBeebies, but saw it coming out. He insisted he wasn’t nervous: “I just felt very positive, excited and happy to start.” It hopes to inspire children looking home “to enjoy every moment and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.”
Her mother, Jane, said her emotions were everywhere: “I was stuffing one minute and smiling the next. I love his work ethic and his positivity. We always say that George’s days are ten out of ten because he does them like that. “
Webster’s first show was a huge hit with viewers. A clip of him making dance moves in the style of Saturday night fever, making a smoothie and reciting a poem went viral on Twitter, with over 1.2 million views.
He was originally hired as a guest presenter, but viewers have bombarded the network demanding that he be dedicated full time.
“We originally agreed that George would be a guest presenter just to make it easier for him to enter and introduce him to the CBeebies family. But in fact, I think we’re quickly already looking at a Friday every two weeks, right, George? “CBeebies producer Claire Taylor said in a three-way video call with her new star and The Guardian.” And then I’m sure she’ll get to a weekly slot, if not more. “
He spent his first salary paying his family for dinner in Leeds and fit into the recordings alongside his performing arts course with Mind the Gap, a theater company for people with learning difficulties.
Although CBeebies has long been a pioneer in the representation of disabilities (in 2009, Cerrie Burnell, who was born with one hand, made her debut), there are still not enough people with disabilities on television. , said Webster.
“I think there needs to be a lot more representation because we are also people. Although we are different, we must be treated equally.
The BBC explored him with talent from his work as an ambassador for Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities. Earlier this year he was asked to record one myth video for BBC Bitesize, in which he dispels some of the common misconceptions about people with Down syndrome. He started by saying, “My name is George because that’s who I am. Not Down’s George “.
People with Down are not always happy, he said, “People with Down syndrome have emotions and feelings like anyone else.” Nor do they “suffer” from this disease, he explained. “I have an amazing life. It has been very positive. I loved going to school. I went to two amazing local schools. I had support from both schools, which helped me in my education. I obtained GCSE and a level A equivalent to BTec sport, level 3 ”.
He is also an ambassador for Parkrun and recently starred in a short film called SAM, starring a young gay man who has a crush on the local disaster, which will be shown on Film4 and will be available on demand for 12 months from October. There are also plans for a CBeebies special with their child hero, Mr Tumble.
He hopes to continue his acting career and would love to appear in Doctor Who or a James Bond movie. A big fan strictly said he would jump at the chance to dance in a future series.
For now, though, he’s excited to be at CBeebies and is ready to be approached by young fans when he’s in Leeds. “I’ll love that,” he said. “I am always very positive and always smiling and bubbly. I love life, nothing has stopped me ”.