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Belfast boy Joshua's lockdown poem leads to television debut on Channel 5's Milkshake


Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis during a virtual masterclass with Joshua McLees

Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis during a virtual masterclass with Joshua McLees

Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis during a virtual masterclass with Joshua McLees

A young Belfast boy is set to make his television debut with a poetry monologue about life under the lockdown next week.

Joshua McLees won a virtual masterclass with Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis after being selected as a winner for the British Film Institute's See Yourself on Screen Challenge.

It was launched by television presenter Dr Ranj Singh last month.

The seven-year-old's poem, Home But Not Alone, was shot in his house and will be broadcast on Channel 5's Milkshake programme.

Joshua and his proud mum Emma told the Belfast Telegraph they will be tuning in next week to see the short programme - which is two minutes long - premiere between July 8-10.

It also features his younger brother Adam (4).

Joshua, who was one of hundreds of young people to enter the UK-wide contest, said it had been fantastic to be involved in the challenge.

"Absolutely unbelievable. It was one of the best days of my life," he said.

The schoolboy said he wanted to enter the contest because of the boredom of the lockdown, which meant he missed seeing other family members and friends.

"I did because I just wanted to show people that it's okay to be feeling this way," explained Joshua.


Joshua McLees

Joshua McLees

Joshua McLees

To qualify for the challenge he had to submit - along with the other contestants - a 30-second clip.

Once selected as a winner in his age category he was teamed up with Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films for a virtual one-on-one masterclass.

Other mentors for the 15 winners included Rob Delaney, Reggie Yates, Harry Hill, Konnie Huq, Matthew Lewis and Jessica Hynes. Joshua said was a brilliant experience working with the silver screen actor.

"It was unbelievable. I had heard of Harry Potter but I hadn't read the books or watched the movies," revealed Joshua.

"I've now read the first book and I loved it and the movie, and Matthew's really funny in it."

Joshua loved filming his monologue so much, he hasn't ruled out working in the TV and film industry when he's older.

"Acting is a great job, and I think I might want to do it when I'm older," he said. "But there's other things out there."

Jackie Edwards, head of the BFI's Young Audiences Content Fund, said it was important to give young people an outlet to express themselves during the lockdown period.

"We launched the See Yourself on Screen Challenge as a way of giving a platform to young people from across the UK whose lives have changed significantly during the Covid-19 lockdown," she said.

"And we were utterly thrilled to receive so many brilliant pitches. This challenge was also a great chance for our industry colleagues to join hands with young people and do something supremely positive."

Belfast Telegraph