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Two children with no previous acting experience have been chosen by the BBC to be the central characters in its new CBeebies programme ‘Apple tree house’, which shows a different side of British life.
The young actors, aged between seven and nine years old, were selected from over 1,500 hopefuls who were auditioned at local schools and community centres in East London.
The new show, which will air on 22 May, is aimed at pre-schoolers and is set in an inner-city council estate in East London, starring Aamir Tai, as Mali, and Miranda Sarfo Peprah, as his friend Sam.
The programme follows the adventures of three friends within the Apple Tree House estate; who investigate problems and set the world to rights.
Speaking about playing Mali, Aamir says: “I hadn’t done any acting before but I really enjoyed playing Mali and making new friends. I especially liked the adventures with Grandma Zainab as it reminded me of my own Grandma at home, who can’t wait to see me on TV!”
Summer Jenkins, who does have previous acting experience was enlisted as their friend Bella.
Other characters who feature in the show are Mali’s grandma Zainab and Sam’s father Kobi, plus other friends, and family members. All of them are from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Apple Tree House was created by William Vanderpuye, Maria Timotheou and Akindele Akinsiku and reflects on many of the things that happened in their own childhoods.
The series was produced by Greg Boardman, who is also known for producing Rastamouse.
Mr Boardman said of the show: “Whether it is in Mali’s family flat, in Kobi’s caretaker shed or out and about in the Apple Tree neighbourhood, each new day brings an opportunity to have fun and discover something new as the children engage with friends and fellow residents.
“There is always something to be learned - Mali and Sam’s wonderful everyday world provides the perfect backdrop.”
Earlier this year, The BBC was criticised by Ofcom after one of their questionnaires highlighted that those from ethnic minorities felt they were “neutrally portrayed at best, or negatively at worst” by the BBC. This has resulted in a new Ofcom ‘diversity code of practice’, which the BBC must now adhere to.
However, it is unlikely that ‘Apple tree house’ was made in response to this critism, as the BBC announced on its website in June last year that the show was being commissioned.
The first of 30 episodes of ‘Apple tree farm’ will air on May 22. A second series has now also been commissioned.