Words by Colette Carr

CBeebies have previously set the internet wild with their stellar lineup of Hollywood A-listers including Tom Hardy, Chris Evans and Isla Fisher reading bedtime stories to make children’s TV enjoyable and exciting for both toddlers and adults.

But days after Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom took up the mantel, the BBC network is set for an brilliant first, as comedian and actor Rob Delaney is to recite a story in Makaton. The American is set to read and sign Ten In The Bed by Penny Dale, a rhyming tale all about ten cuddly friends trying to go to bed and is to be aired on Friday 16 November at 6:50pm.

The Catastrophe actor used Makaton to communicate with his young son Henry and said it was an honour to be the first person to bring the language to the channel.

Speaking to the BBC, Rob said: “My family loves to read together so naturally we’re fans of CBeebies Bedtime Stories. I am beyond honoured to be the first person to read and sign a book using the Makaton language. Our family learned Makaton to be able to communicate with our son Henry, who couldn’t speak due to a tracheotomy. We’re sad Henry isn’t here to see it but we’re happy other families will get to enjoy a story told in Makaton.”

In February, Rob posted about the news on his official Facebook saying: “I have very sad news. My two and a half year old son Henry has passed away. Henry had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, shortly after his first birthday, following persistent vomiting and weight loss. He had surgery to remove the tumor and further treatment through the early part of 2017. Then the cancer returned last autumn and he died in January.

“My wife and Henry’s older brothers and I are devastated of course. Henry was a joy. He was smart, funny, and mischievous and we had so many wonderful adventures together, particularly after he’d moved home following fifteen months living in hospitals. His tumor and surgery left him with significant physical disabilities, but he quickly learned sign language and developed his own method of getting from A to B shuffling on his beautiful little bum. His drive to live and to love and to connect was profound.

“I am astonished by the love-in-action displayed by Henry’s mom and his brothers. They are why I will endeavor to not go mad with grief. I don’t want to miss out on their beautiful lives. I’m greedy for more experiences with them.
The NHS nurses and doctors and the home carers and charity workers who helped our family survive Henry’s illness will be my heroes until the day I die. I am desperately sad right now, but I can say with authority that there is good in this world.”

The episode, which will air on the broadcaster’s Children in Need day, will bring to the language to light, hopefully raising awareness and setting a precedent for more Makaton on our child’s screens.

Image: BBC

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