GEORGE WEBSTER: “I’m not Down’s George”

Actor, dancer and award-winning presenter George Webster speaks to Kate Stevenson about his new book ‘Why Not?’ and the importance of disability representation in the media

Pics: © CBeebies

As I sat down for my chat with George Webster, it quickly became clear that he’s on a mission to inspire the nation and get children to think about disabilities differently. George, who has Down’s syndrome – but is “not Down’s George” – is determined to show the world that he will achieve great things. 

Becoming a presenter for CBeebies was just the first step in his master plan. Action-loving George now has his sights set on acting in Marvel films. As an advocate for disabled representation in the media, George told me how special it was to grow up watching Justin Fletcher play Mr Tumble, and seeing Makaton language on TV. Now, George joins Justin as a much-loved role model on televisions across the UK, celebrating his own uniqueness and encouraging others to be themselves. 

FAMILY FAVOURITE 

George was scouted by CBeebies producers after they saw his viral video with BBC Bitesize, busting myths about Down’s syndrome. When he got the call asking him to become a presenter, he was ecstatic: “I squealed down the phone! I was so excited; I couldn’t wait to get started.” 

After speaking to George myself, I wasn’t surprised that – after the success of his first show – CBeebies quickly asked him to become a regular presenter. Like me, viewers were enchanted by George’s optimism and couldn’t get enough of him and his fabulous dancing. 

“CBeebies, you have made a little boy just like George so excited. You are the best,” shared one mum on X, while others said they could watch George all day: “We’re loving George this morning – I hope he is going to be a regular!” 

WHY NOT? 

But can you blame them? After all, it’s hard not to be captivated by George and his outlook on life. His positive attitude shone through in our interview as he excitedly discussed his career aspirations and his new book, ‘Why Not?’. 

The inspiring book follows George as he tells the reader about who he is, his life, and how to look on the bright side of everything: “I always say, why not? Why not do this? Why not do that? And that’s how I came up with the book.” 

The story highlights the importance of representation, inclusion, and being ourselves. George knows that having Down’s syndrome is an important part of who he is. But he also knows it doesn’t define him: “I have Down’s syndrome, but I’m not Down’s George,” he explains. “I hope I can help people understand that, and help them see others for who they really are.” 

George holding his new book, ‘Why Not?’

BUSTING MYTHS 

Although disabled representation has come a long way, George admits it would be nice to see more people like him on screen. When he was younger, he told me there wasn’t anyone on TV with Down’s syndrome, and he didn’t understand why. “It’s very important to represent people with disabilities in the media,” reveals George. “Our stories need to be told.” 

When children don’t see themselves in the media, it can have a hugely detrimental effect on their sense of self-identity. It can also add to the stigma and confusion surrounding certain disabilities that are kept off-screen. Inclusive programming also helps children believe in themselves and shows them they can do anything they put their minds to. 

George says children who’ve seen him on TV feel like they can become presenters too, and he asks “Why not? It’s important to always be yourself, dream big and not let anyone else tell you what to do. It’s your life, and it’s not up to anyone else, so why not do this and why not do that?” 

MAKING HISTORY 

In 2021, George made history when he became the first CBeebies presenter with Down’s syndrome. A year later, to no one’s surprise apart from his own, he won a BAFTA Award: “When they announced me, I was like, what? I was really happy and really shocked. It was such a fun night. Everyone was high-fiving me, even people I had just met that night! It was amazing.” 

But George’s accomplishments don’t end there. The award-winning presenter keeps himself busy with acting and charity work. He even took to the dancefloor in 2022 to show off his moves in the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. 

And 2024 is set to be another busy year for George, who has just finished acting in a play in France and is already thinking about what he’ll get up to next: “Maybe I will become the next James Bond, or I could be the next Doctor Who… Why not?” Whatever comes next, one thing’s for sure: the future looks bright for George. 

George’s new book, Why Not, is on sale at all good booksellers.

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