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Attleborough teenager with Down’s syndrome overcomes prejudice to star in BBC sitcom

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 18 September 2018

Thomas Smith (middle), teen actor with down syndrome, starred in BBC's Upstart Crow. With dad and brother

Thomas Smith (middle), teen actor with down syndrome, starred in BBC's Upstart Crow. With dad and brother

Archant

Thomas Smith’s love of acting began when he started performing magic with his brother.

Thomas Smith, teen actor with down syndrome, starred in BBC's Upstart CrowThomas Smith, teen actor with down syndrome, starred in BBC's Upstart Crow

From then on acting professionally became the dream but on his journey he has faced prejudice once people discover that he has Down’s Syndrome.

Thomas, 16, has since gone on to prove those people wrong after recently starring in an episode of BBC Two’s Upstart Crow along side some of the biggest names in British comedy including David Mitchell, Harry Enfield and Liza Tarbuck.

But for Thomas, his mother Carol Smith explains, he has been able to look past the prejudice as he just wants to act.

Mrs Smith said: “I would contact groups regarding both my sons and there would be places but the minute I said one of them has Down’s Syndrome the places were gone.

Thomas Smith in costume. Picture: Carol SmithThomas Smith in costume. Picture: Carol Smith

“I had one group say they have stairs so it would not be possible with his disability. I’m hardened to it now and I expect it, one person I argued with for an hour saying their group was not suitable.”

Thomas used to perform magic with his brother Harry, 15, a student at Wymondham College, both in amateur groups and appearing on CBBC’s Turbo Boost.

They are both continuing to perform in dramatic groups with Harry studying drama at GCSE. Thomas said that he enjoyed his time in London and, although he did not know who he was, liked working with David Mitchell.

He said: “David Mitchell was awesome, he was a very chatty guy. Working on a professional set was amazing.

“The step up to go to the BBC was terrifying but I took it in on as it is what I like doing.”

Thomas filmed the episode of Upstart Crow in January. Since then he has filmed an advert which will be shown on television later in the year.

Mrs Smith added: “It would be nice if the world could move on but there is still discrimination. But children and adults with disabilities are going to be in the media so hopefully people with disabilities will be more accepted.

“Thomas has not always been aware of the discrimination as he goes to the group and gets on with acting but it has made us stronger.”

Thomas is currently in the Thetford Players and is preparing for a number of roles in the chorus for their panto The Wizard of Oz.

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