Josh, 12, lands movie role

He's a young film star who is over the moon at landing a lead role as a space explorer.For a few years ago 12-year-old Josh Ryan struggled to do everyday tasks like using a knife and fork, or opening a packet of crisps.

He's a young film star who is over the moon at landing a lead role as a space explorer.

For a few years ago 12-year-old Josh Ryan struggled to do everyday tasks like using a knife and fork, or opening a packet of crisps.

Next week millions of TV viewers will watch his poignant frustrations aired during a video diary for a BBC documentary.

Since it was recorded, Josh's life has taken off into another galaxy - after being picked from thousands of hopefuls to appear in a pioneering film.

The north Norfolk lad, who suffers from the brain malfunction dyspraxia, will play Hugo First, one of five intrepid young British explorers sent on a daring rescue mission to the moon.

It is a zany musical comedy using an all-child cast, in the mould of Bugsy Malone, which will be filmed this spring and will be launched at a red carpet premiere in London later in the year.

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Today, Josh goes to a recording studio in the capital to begin soundtrack work, having been picked from 8,000 young would-be film stars - and with casting directors unaware of his past problems and personal battles.

Life has been a struggle at times for the youngster from Swafield near North Walsham. His dyspraxia, which affects co-ordination and speech, made it difficult to do even the simplest of things from blowing his nose to riding a bike, as well as pronouncing words. Sufferers, often tagged as clumsy children, can also have problems with learning, emotions, attention span and self-esteem.

Josh explained: “A small part of my brain does not work. It made it hard to open a packet of crisps, or use cutlery. I used to get left out of football games at school, until the teacher got me to explain my problem to the rest of the class.”

In his confident and eloquent video diaries he reveals how he felt when his three younger sisters, Gabriella, Georgia and Saskia, did well at gym competitions, while he was battling to do daily tasks - which he felt were just as big an achievement.

But Josh has made big progress in recent years, and his speech has improved greatly after a summer holiday spent practising two hours of pronunciation a day at home, where all the children are now educated.

He has played the lead role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at his drama club in Reepham, and had two “silent” parts in commercials for restaurants.

Josh made his performing debut at the Antingham and Southrepps school fete four summers ago, singing Evergreen, having been inspired by Gareth Gates' overcoming of a stammer to reach the final of the Pop Idol television show.

Two of his sisters, Gabby and Georgie, have also appeared in the Cromer pier show and Sheringham pantomime. So the family made an outing to the film auditions, having seen them on a morning television show, hoping to land the children small parts. But when they saw “huge queues of hopefuls like the X Factor” their hearts sank and they just though it would be a “day out and that was it,” said dad Greg.

Josh however impressed the Dream On film crew, and after a series of selection sessions was called back to read through the scripts. After a six-hour session he came out beaming to say he had been picked for one of the five lead roles - the youngest, and nervous, explorer among the four boys and a girl charged with rescuing residents of the moon.

Mum Amanda said: “We knew Josh could act, but getting this part is special. A few years ago he was being teased at school and this would not have been a possibility in our wildest dreams. We were delighted, but also stunned.

“We have never set a glass ceiling for the children, and have encouraged them to strive for anything they want. Josh has dealt with what a lot of other 'clumsy kids' are going through and shows that if you have enough drive, anything is possible.”

Josh said his ambition was to be a comedy scriptwriter and his idol is Ricky Gervais, star of The Office and Extras. But while his sisters are set to be extras in the adventure movie, he has shown he is extra special, by becoming one of its stars.

Josh's video diary is part of BBC 2's My Life As A Child programme being screened on March 22 at 7pm.