CBeebies Bedtime Stories commemorates the enduring bond that unites those who cherish each other, even when separated by considerable distances. Armed Forces members share the reading of ‘The Invisible String.’
The ambitious shoot intricately switches between nine diverse readers located across the globe. Filming occurred in various places, including Bahrain, the snowy forests of Estonia, Cyprus, and aboard the UK’s largest warship, HMS Prince of Wales.
Serving members of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force worldwide, along with soldiers and veterans in the UK at iconic landmarks like the Tower of London and Horse Guards Parade, take part in narrating the heartwarming story. Among the readers are Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, the Brigadier of the Household Division, and Sergeant Shannon Bennett, a military vehicle driver at a NATO base in Estonia.
These readers, all parents or family members who often cannot be present during special occasions like Christmas, share the tale of The Invisible String. Authored by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, the episode is scheduled to air on Saturday, 23 December, at 6.50 pm on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer.
Sergeant Shannon Bennett, who read her part of The Invisible String from Estonia, where she has been protecting NATO’s eastern flank, knows how hard it is to spend time away from loved ones as she has a three-year-old daughter, Delaney, at home.
She says: “Christmas can be a bittersweet affair for UK Armed Forces personnel, as many of us spend the festive period deployed thousands of miles away from our loved ones.
“On Christmas Day this year, there will be almost 7,000 sailors, soldiers and aviators who will miss the chance of Christmas dinner with family, or a cosy reading session with their children, because they are stationed abroad anywhere from the Falkland Islands to the Indo-Pacific.
“That’s why this special CBeebies Bedtime Stories episode will resonate so deeply with people who are serving – because while they are upholding peace and security around the world, they are still missing the simplicity of tucking their children into bed.”
On Christmas Day, CBeebies favorites Justin Fletcher and Dodge The Dog, alongside children from Manchester Hospital School, engage in reading sessions at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Justin reads ‘The Hospital Dog’ by Julia Donaldson, sharing the heartwarming tale of a Dalmatian named Dot who brings joy to children in hospitals.
Ruth Sheard-Pearson at Manchester Hospital School says: “Our children absolutely loved their special story time session! Being in hospital means they miss out on a lot of things other children take for granted especially at this time of year, so it was wonderful to see the looks on their faces as they listened wide-eyed to every single word of the story.
“The visit from Justin and Dodge also did a brilliant job of raising the profile of reading and encouraging young people to read and celebrate stories – something we encourage all our children to do! It was such a special experience for the children, bringing them moments of joy in what for some of them are extremely difficult times, and is something I know they will treasure forever.”
On Christmas Eve, Justin Fletcher, appearing as Father Christmas, will bring further joy with a new reading of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore.
Additional celebrity readers for CBeebies Bedtime Stories in the lead-up to Christmas Day will be announced soon.