Where are Sleigh Now?
CHRISTMAS would not be the same without the John Lewis adverts.
The heart-warming stories reduce us to tears and get us in the festive spirit long before we’ve opened our first present.
Some say the countdown to Christmas only begins once the beautifully filmed ads are finally released.
The mini movies have also become internet sensations, racking up millions of hits, and are believed to have boosted sales at the department store chain by hundreds of millions of pounds.
2011 - The Long Wait
THERE was barely a dry eye in the country when seven-year-old Lewis McGowan lit up our screens as the boy counting down to Christmas, with The Smiths song Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, sung by Slow Moving Millie, in the background.
The advert landed Lewis, now 12, a best actor gong at the British Arrows Craft Awards.
He has since hit Hollywood and recently filmed his role in the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.
Speaking from his home in Hamilton near Glasgow, his dad Stuart McGowan, 43, an actor and model, said: “Lewis is doing great and still acting.”
But Stuart has found himself in some awkward situations.
He recalled hearing a woman on a train saying how the boy in the advert freaked her out because he looked like evil Damien from The Omen.
Stuart burst out laughing and told her he was the dad.
He said: “Honestly, she looked as if she wanted to die.”
2014 - Monty The Penguin
SCHOOLBOY Rhys Edwards could not believe his luck when he won the lead role in one of the most famous John Lewis telly ads.
He played Sam, a young lad who makes friends with a tiny penguin called Monty.
The inseparable pair play Lego together and have fun in the park.
But with Tom Odell’s cover of John Lennon song Real Love playing over the top, it soon becomes clear that Monty is lonely for a female companion.
Rhys, now ten, ended up clashing with his dad Gareth, 42, a railway engineer, and mum Lucie, who runs a cleaning business, over whether he could spend his £2,500 wages on Christmas presents such as the brand new £369 drone he was craving.
Mum-of-two Lucie, 36, from Welwyn, Herts, said: “We had to be strict about that. All the money is in the bank for when he’s older.
“The ad was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. It was brilliant and I’m very proud.
“But it hasn’t changed his life long-term.
“We expected quite a lot of work on the back of John Lewis but it’s had the opposite effect.
“Companies don’t want to use him because he’s known as the boy from John Lewis.
“The fame went to his head as there was quite a frenzy. All the kids from school came up to him and made a big fuss.
“And whenever we went to our local John Lewis, everyone recognised him.
“But it’s all died down now. Rhys will star in a police drama on ITV soon, which I don’t want to name, but he seems more interested in playing Pokémon at the moment.”
2015 - The Man On The Moon
Being the lonely man on the moon has helped 78-year-old Frenchman Jean Masini to become a huge star in his native country.
This year his face has been all over the Paris Metro on posters promoting the Uber car service.
He has also won a number of film and telly roles, including playing the Duke of Vinteuil in TV’s The Little History of France.
Jean also performs as a comedian under the stage name Mazz Mazin. The two-minute ad, rumoured to cost £7million and produced in conjunction with Age UK, aimed to highlight loneliness among the old at Christmas.
It showed a girl called Lily looking at Jean through a telescope before sending up a present tied to balloons.
Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes, 20, performed Oasis song Half The World Away for the ad.
Starring alongside Jean was the adorable Orli Star Knill-Goldstein, now seven.
She is currently on the big screen in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
She may not be the star but she did get to visit director Tim Burton at his London home.
Speaking at the family’s flat in Hornsey, North London, her dad Trevor Goldstein, 48, said: “The advert did get her in a position where she got some big auditions – massive stuff.” Orli’s mother Natalie Knill, 47, is a drama teacher, while Trevor is an actor and ex-stripper with the Dreamboys troupe.
Asked whether Orli enjoyed the ad, her dad said: “She loved it. She has never been fazed by the attention. Kids at her school would come up and say, ‘Were you in the advert?’ and she would say, ‘Yes’, and walk off.
“She doesn’t watch the ad. She loves the filming and that’s it. She doesn’t seem to have any interest in becoming famous.”