‘#fabulousfreddie!’ Boy, four, revealed as star of John Lewis advert

‘#fabulousfreddie!’ Boy, 4, from Corrie actress Tina O’Brien’s drama school is revealed as child star of John Lewis advert as his proud mother shares Elton John’s Instagram post about her son

  • Freddie Henderson, four, beat more than 1,000 boys for role in John Lewis ad
  • Youngster attends drama school in Manchester and has won rave reviews
  • Proud mother Emma shared Sir Elton’s Instagram post of her son today
  • John Lewis Christmas advert is online and will air on ITV1 tonight at 9.15pm

The mother of the child star of this year’s John Lewis advert has spoken of her pride today after the long-awaited commercial was finally unveiled, calling her son #fabulousfreddie! 

Emma Henderson shared a picture of son Freddie, four, from the advert on Facebook, originally posted by Sir Elton John, with the department store’s 2018 festive campaign, which cost £7million, based on his life.

The mini-biopic, is set to his 1970 hit Your Song, shows the Rocketman singer’s career in reverse, featuring several actors in make-up and prosthetic playing him through the ages.

Posting a picture of the youngster on Instagram, Sir Elton wrote: ‘What a pleasure it was to be part of the wonderful @johnlewisandpartnersChristmas advert.’

Ms Henderson then shared it with the caption: ‘When @eltonjohn posts a pic of your child’s face! #fabulousfreddie @freddiesteddiego.’ 

Drama school pupil Freddie was picked out from more than 1,000 hopefuls after auditioning for the advert, called The Boy and The Piano, earlier this year. It is his second job after previously featuring in adverts for electronics firm Bosch.

Freddie Henderson, four, has won rave reviews for his performance as young Elton John in the John Lewis Christmas advert and the musician posted a picture of the youngster on social media this morning which proud mother Emma Henderson shared on Facebook today, pictured

Ms Henderson, pictured with Freddie, captioned Sir Elton’s post with #fabulousfreddie and said: ‘When @eltonjohn posts a pic of your child’s face!’

Freddie’s drama school the Drama MOB in Manchester also paid tribute to the youngster on social media today and said staff were ‘unbelievably proud’

The school was co-founded by Coronation Street actress Tina O’Brien who described Freddie’s moment as ‘the proudest day ever’

He said he was unfazed by the huge production and just got on with his role.

Freddie said: ‘I was, just you know, running down the stairs, into the lounge, standing there until they said – cut!’ 

The news was welcomed by family and friends who congratulated the family on social media.

Kate Parker said: ‘His face is all over my Twitter feed. You must be bouncing off the walls xx’

Lesley Koninckx added: ‘Incredible, beautiful and amazing but that’s just Freddie.’

Sir Elton was also played as a child aged 11 by Hudson Trindall, in a scene where he plays the piano at a school recital. 

Hudson said: ‘I play a very famous musician who is eleven at the time of what I am filming. The hardest thing was just getting everything right.’

Meanwhile the singer was played in his teenage years playing tunes for friends at a party by Brandon Stein. 

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Freddie is a member of Coronation Street actress Tina O’Brien’s The Drama MOB, based in Manchester and competed with others across the country to land the part.

Paying tribute to Freddie, the school said in a statement: ‘A HUGE congratulations to our very own Freddie Henderson who stars in this years John Lewis advert.

‘Freddie was up against thousands of other boys across the country for this role and we are unbelievably proud that our small, Manchester drama school and agency have been able to provide Freddie with the experience to star in the advert of the year! 

‘Freddie joined our classes in Oct 2017 and we are thrilled for Freddie and his family.’

Esther Morgan, director of the school, told MailOnline Freddie made an instant impact upon joining age three last year.

She said: ‘He is a very bright boy, chatty, confident and very talented at drama.

‘When we take pupils we look for confidence and an ability to follow direction and instruction and Freddie had that.

‘This job came up and and luckily he was successful. We are very, very proud. He beat more than 1,000 other boys and it is great for our small school because a lot of the big London agencies often get these roles. 

‘You don’t get a bigger advert than the John Lewis Christmas ad so this could be a stepping stone to big things for Freddie’.

Elton, played by Hudson Trindall, is shown performing in a school recital aged 11, watched by his family in an advert inspired by events in his life (pictured, right, Elton as a child) 

In the 1960s the star, now played by Brandon Stein, first started performing in the Northwood Hills pub in Pinner, around the corner from where he grew up

Five actors played the star in the advert with recital boy Elton played by Hudson Trindall, 1970s Elton played by Oliver Marshall and 1990s Elton played by Simon Burbage (left to right). The adults were helped with CGI and prosthetics

Ms Morgan added she expected the other pupils to be very excited about the advert but said Freddie had not been affected much by the exposure.

She added: ‘At his age, we try to teach them some improvisation, script work and try to get their imaginations going.

‘We have a lot of talented children but since Freddie arrived we all said how confident, bubbly he was and how much of a spark he had.’  

The school also confirmed Freddie would be watching tonight’s first airing of the advert on ITV1 at 9.15pm with his family and it would be filming the moment to share with the public.

Meanwhile O’Brien, who plays Sarah in Coronation Street, added: ‘I’m so proud I could pop.’  

The theme is how one present can change a life and ends with a four-year-old Elton, played by Freddie, unwrapping his first piano on Christmas Day in 1951, before cutting to the emotional 71-year-old playing the same instrument while thinking about his mother Sheila, who died last year aged 92, followed by the slogan: ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’. 

Five actors aged between four and 50 were used to play Sir Elton, using prosthetics, CGI and help from the star and his husband David Furnish to ensure they had the same mannerisms and piano playing style.

Viewers are taken back through key moments in his life with scenes of the star on stadium tours, travelling on a private jet, recording Your Song, playing the piano in a local pub and performing in a school recital.

It ends with Sir Elton – then little Reg Dwight – running down the stairs on Christmas morning to see his grandmother Ivy and his mother, who brought him up together because his father, Stanley, was largely absent.

Freddie’s big moment as Elton shows him as a young Reg Dwight from Pinner tearing wrapping paper away to reveal a beautiful piano that would inspire him to play

The child actor looks in wonder at the musical instrument with the message that gifts can inspire and change lives

The finale ends with Sir Elton playing the same piano and ends with the message: ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’

John Lewis has said the advert is ‘inspired by real events’ but admits the finale involves ‘some creativity’ because the singer was never gifted a piano at Christmas, but he had learned to play at his grandmother’s house – and denied claims they paid him £5million to take part.

It is the second of the retailer’s Christmas ads to feature Your Song after singer Ellie Goulding recorded a cover for the 2010 campaign.

The advert’s nod to Elton’s mother and the influence on his career comes almost a year after her death last December.

Two years before she passed away the star found the courage to apologise to her after an eight-year feud that culminated in her inviting an Elton John impersonator to perform at her birthday party because she missed him so much.

Elton severed all contact with her after a catastrophic argument where she blamed Elton’s husband, David Furnish, for turning him against her.

She was also upset the Candle In The Wind singer demanded she cut all ties with her longtime friends Bob Halley and John Reid, who had both been fired from his entourage after decades working for him.

But on her 90th birthday he sent Sheila a large bouquet of white orchids for her milestone birthday and also shelled out £30,000 for Sheila to undergo a double hip replacement.

When she died two years later he spoke of his grief – but happiness that they had become close again.

Sir Elton sings his first big hit Your Song in a present day gig but the advert goes all the way back to his 1950s childhood

Some were very impressed with the advert, which has been described as ‘touching’

Others criticised the campaign as being a ‘trailer’ for upcoming Elton biopic Rocketman

In September rumours emerged that Sir Elton had agreed to take part – but John Lewis has denied he was paid the £5million fee being mooted. They also said some of his fee was donated to charity.

The musician said today: ‘The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family.

‘It’s been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my grandmother’s piano marks the moment when music came into my life.

‘The ad is absolutely fantastic and I’ve truly loved every minute of being a part of it.’

His husband David Furnish, who was involved in producing the advert, said: ‘I think Elton has enjoyed the process of making this tremendously. I think, you know, emotionally he is thinking about the journey he’s been on as an artist, and that moment, you know, when music came into his life at a very young age when he was encouraged by his mother and his grandmother with his piano’.

The advert has divided opinion with stars including James Corden, Richard Bacon and Susanna Reid declaring they ‘absolutely love it’ while others have branded it a ‘plug’ for Sir Elton’s upcoming biopic movie and farewell tour.

Some fans were disappointed that cuddly stars such as Montie the penguin and Moz the monster have been jettisoned for a celebrity-endorsed campaign.

  • The Boy & The Piano was released online at 8am this morning before being shown on ITV at 9.15pm tonight. 


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