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.