Young actor defies disability to become TV star

NOMINATED ... South Shields actor Christopher Slater with the cartoon version of himself that's featured in Tracy Beaker.
NOMINATED ... South Shields actor Christopher Slater with the cartoon version of himself that's featured in Tracy Beaker.

CHRISTOPHER John Slater is a regular face on children’s TV.

The 21-year-old actor, from South Shields, is one of the stars of BBC’s The Dumping Ground.

The spin-off of The Story of Tracy Beaker - which was based on the book by Jacqueline Wilson - is watched by kids all around the country.

And it’s something that the former Bamburgh School pupil is proud to be part of.

Christopher, who plays Frank in the show, has cerebral palsy, a movement disorder which causes physical disability, but it hasn’t held him back.

He said: “It’s very good being on the show. It can be a challenge but it’s quite a fun challenge. Everyone is very supportive and I can always talk to them - they all look after me.

“I think it’s hard for everyone really but sometimes the days on the set are a little bit too long for me, but that comes with the job and you do get used to it after a while - the longer you’ve been doing it, the easier it gets.

“I was just a boy from South Shields who never thought I was really going to get anywhere so I do feel really proud of myself.

“Everyone on the show is really nice and fun to work with, and all the cast and crew really looks after me.

“I think I’d definitely like to act forever now, or at least work in the industry. I’m learning all about how to work the cameras and everything behind the scenes too.

“My big dream is to be in a Hollywood film, something like Die Hard would be really fun to do.”

Christopher, who now lives in Wardley, Gateshead, joined the cast of Tracy Beaker Returns at the age of 16 after he was spotted by a BBC talent scout.

He was starring in the title role of Macbeth at the People’s Theatre in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Mum Dawn said: “After the show, I got a call from someone saying they were from the BBC and they’d like Christopher to audition and I thought it was someone having me on at first.

“Someone came to see him so he could audition and I didn’t get my hopes up too much, and we were just over the moon when he got the part.

“Me, his dad, John and his brothers, David and Dean, are all just so proud of him.

“I do like to watch the show but I always have to do it when Christopher is out because he gets a little embarrassed.”

Christopher, who is currently studying performing arts at Newcastle College, added: “I didn’t always want to be an actor. It was my oldest brother, David who started acting first.

“It wasn’t until I auditioned for Tracy Beaker Returns that I realised how much I wanted to do it.

“I really enjoyed acting and thought if I could do that as a job it would be an amazing opportunity for someone like me.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki