Blake McCaughey, a deserving star of his local newspaper in the past few years, got his big break on TV last week when he starred alongside children’s TV’s hottest property Justin Fletcher.
Six-year-old Blake appeared in Something Special, broadcast on CBeebies last Thursday, having been picked out as a big fan of the show starring Fletcher as Mr Tumble.
CBeebies researchers came to Blake’s school, Ceara, last May, looking for candidates to appear in the popular show featuring children with learning disabilities.
His mum Christine explained: “They went into school and put on an episode of Mr Tumble (Something Special) and watched to see which kids responded.
“Blake is a big fan of Mr Tumble and he was all excited about it. They use the ‘Hello’ song in his school to teach the children Makaton sign language. He’d have it on at home as well.
“We heard over the summer he’d got picked to be in the show. They came in September to film and he had the choice of whether to go for a walk in Lurgan Park or go snowtubing.
“He picked Lurgan Park because it’s one of his favourite places to go with his dogs.”
Christine explained how they had to film for seven hours to get Blake’s segment of the 20-minute programme.
“The crew were in Lurgan Park from first thing,” she said. “The weather looked good but it was raining in between filming. Blake wasn’t starstruck by Justin. He might have been with Mr Tumble.
“Because he was a little bit shy they brought his cousin Abi down to bring him out of his shell a bit.”
Abi ended up part of the show as did Blake’s two nine-year-old Shih Tzus Fiver and Vonzi.
Fiver is so called because he was born on 05/05/05, was the fifth of a litter of five and cost the family £500. Christine told how he acts as Blake’s guardian angel.
“One night Fiver was barking at the bottom of the stairs in the direction of Blake’s room. I’d no idea what he was barking about because everything was quiet. I went upstairs to check on Blake and he was vomiting in his sleep. If it hadn’t been for Fiver, Blake mightn’t be with us now.”
Thursday’s episode of Something Special saw Blake taking his dogs on a walk round Lurgan Park with his mum, his cousin Abi and Justin Fletcher before stopping to feed the ducks. Sadly Mr Tumble’s parts of the show are filmed in a studio elsewhere so Blake didn’t get to meet the colourful kids’ star himself.
Of Justin Fletcher, Christine said: “It’s very tough for him. You don’t see what’s going on behind the camera. There’s eight or nine people giving him orders. He’s having to do sign language and interact with people with learning difficult as well as everything else involved with doing a TV programme.
“I think very highly of him and what he does.”
She added: “There’s not enough programmes like Something Special on TV using kids like Blake.
“Blake sees other people like himself on Something Special. Kids in wheelchairs and with tubes to feed and it helps him to feel the same as other children. Something Special treats all children as normal children.
“It’s great for children without special needs as well. Pixie (Blake’s sister) loves it too. It teaches children not to look at people as being different.”