‘A brilliant role model’: CBeebies hires first presenter with Down’s syndrome

20-year-old actor George Webster says he is ‘so proud’ to be joining the BBC channel, having previously made a video on the misconceptions around the genetic condition

The BBC’s preschool TV channel CBeebies has appointed George Webster as its first presenter with Down’s syndrome. The 20-year-old will join the channel as a guest presenter from the CBeebies House, hosting segments and links between programmes from Salford’s MediaCityUK.

An actor, dancer and ambassador for the disability charity Mencap, Webster was announced as a presenter on Monday. In a video posted on social media, he said: “I feel so proud and I’m feeling so excited to start”, adding that he was looking forward to cooking and dancing in his new role.

Webster, who is from Leeds, previously appeared in an educational video for the BBC’s Bitesize strand on misconceptions around the genetic condition.

Many expressed their delight online at his announcement, especially parents of disabled children. Actor Sally Phillips, who has a son with Down’s syndrome, wrote: “Oh CBeebies I could not love you more. This means so much to us and isn’t George amazing!!”

Elsewhere, Mencap described Webster as “a brilliant role model”.

CBeebies, aimed at children under seven, has been praised for its diverse content in recent years. In June 2020, following the death of George Floyd, mixed race presenter Ben Cajee informed young viewers about his own experiences with racism. A series of two-minute films titled My Black History Heroes, highlighting figures including Barack Obama and Mary Seacole, is currently airing on the channel.

Reactions to Webster’s appointment contrasts with the reception some 12 years ago to then-CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell, born with her lower right arm missing, and whose appearance on the channel in 2009 led to a barrage of complaints.

Burnell Tweeted the news about Webster’s appointment, with the words “absolute joy”, as well as retweeting another message which posited that perhaps “the world has turned” in the intervening years.


Hannah J Davies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
CBeebies star Maddie Moate: ‘Elephant poo is so magical!’
The chipper TV host, podcaster and YouTuber is now a children’s author. She tells Stuart Heritage about her hectic homeschooling routine, why she’s happy to be ‘too busy’ – and the joy of paper made from poo

Stuart Heritage

27, Oct, 2021 @12:40 PM

Article image
‘Brian May has finally become an actor’: say hello to CBBC’s new star, the Godfather of Rock
The Queen guitarist makes his full acting debut in kids’ show Andy and the Band. He’s not bad – better than Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Stuart Heritage

24, Jan, 2022 @4:48 PM

Article image
Sesame Street to Bugbears: the kids' TV that challenges racism
Muppets learn about race, young cooks show off global cuisines, and a cuban-American girl seeks election, as children’s shows explore identity and diversity

Stuart Heritage

24, Mar, 2021 @3:42 PM

Article image
‘Absolutely breathtaking TV’: 20 years of CBeebies, from surreal Teletubbies to the beauty of Bluey
For two decades, the BBC channel has delighted preschoolers and won the teary gratitude of exhausted parents. But which are its best shows?

Stuart Heritage

08, Feb, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
BBC boss says Sky does not give CBBC and CBeebies prominence on EPG
Director of policy and strategy claims current situation is counter intuitive and wrong for the British public. By Ben Dowell

Ben Dowell

06, Mar, 2012 @4:25 PM

Article image
‘Why can’t we be the hero?’: George Webster on acting, ambition, romance and big breaks
He is a CBeebies star, a Bafta winner, an author and an ambassador for people with Down’s syndrome. Is there anything George can’t do? Well, there is one thing, says his mother …

Sam Wollaston

28, Feb, 2023 @6:00 AM

Article image
Daydreams: can the 'ambient' CBeebies experience really work?
Meant to help wind children down at the end of the day, the new iPlayer show – with its trees and slightly new age feel – could actually do the trick

Stuart Heritage

17, Apr, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
‘Some of our greatest fans were pub landlords’ – how we made John Craven’s Newsround
John Craven: ‘Middle-aged people still stop me in the street and say: “Thank you for being a voice of my childhood”’

Interviews by Rich Pelley

28, Mar, 2022 @2:02 PM

Article image
‘I’m loving life,’ says first CBeebies presenter with Down’s syndrome
George Webster, a 21-year-old actor from Leeds, was overwhelmed by the reaction to his first BBC show

Helen Pidd North of England editor

22, Sep, 2021 @11:41 AM

Article image
BBC chairman warns end of licence fee would mean no CBeebies
Subscription service would lead to ‘big cuts’ to children’s and local TV, says David Clementi

Jim Waterson Media editor

11, Feb, 2020 @10:30 PM