At 7.23 a.m. on Monday, George Webster made television history when he bounced off the CBeebies home.
Most young viewers were unaware they were witnessing a historic television moment: To them, Webster was just a smiling, brightly dressed adult talking to Dodge, the CBeebies dog.
Webster He is the first BBC children presenter with Down syndrome, but his disability was not mentioned. He simply introduced himself as George, a 20-year-old from Leeds who loves to cook, sing and dance.
The fact that he did not receive any special treatment made it all the more important for many parents watching at home.
CBeebies, you got the mom of a little kid like George so excited. Karen Taylor tweeted ‘You’re the best.’ One dad posted a picture of him and his daughter with a picture of Down saying, ‘Go George!!! We are very excited to see you.”
Another wrote: “My son has autism and he turned to me and said: I love George Dad.” That’s all you need to know. Thank you CBeebies. You did something amazing today.”
Back at his home in Leeds, Webster was confused by the reaction. He pre-recorded his CBeebies debut but watched him come out. He insisted he wasn’t nervous: “I felt really positive, excited and happy to move on.” He hopes to inspire children watching at home “to enjoy every moment and seize every opportunity when it comes.”
His mother, Jane, said her emotions were all over the place: “I was breathing one minute and smiling the next. I just love his work ethic and his positivity. We always say George’s days are all 10 out of 10 because he makes it that way.”
Webster’s first show proved to be a huge hit with viewers. his syllable Doing Saturday Night Fever-style dance moves, making smoothie, and reciting a poem went viral on Twitter, racking up over 1.2 million views.
He was originally set as a guest presenter, but viewers bombed the network demanding that he sack his full time.
“We originally agreed that George would be a guest announcer just to facilitate and introduce him to the CBeebies family. But really, I think we’re quickly looking at a biweekly Friday, right, George?” CBeebies producer Claire Taylor said in a three-way video call with her new co-star and newspaper The Guardian. “And then I’m sure he’ll hit the weekly digits, if not more.”
He has spent his first salary taking his family out to dinner in Leeds and will fit in recordings alongside a performing arts course with Mind the Gap, a theater company for people with learning disabilities.