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Meet Sam and Monty, the stars of what is fast becoming a Christmas tradition - the John Lewis tear-jerker advert.
The department store has spent £7million on the two-minute blockbuster featuring young Sam and his sidekick, an adorable penguin called Monty. It took nine months to bring Monty to animated life after artists pored over hours of footage of real Adélie penguins to get his movements absolutely right.
The advert follows Sam – played by seven-year-old Rhys Edwards, from Hertfordshire – and Monty through the year as they do everything together from hide and seek to football.
However as the winter months draw in, Sam begins to notice that Monty is sad and realises that he is longing for a companion. Knowing his friend so well, on Christmas Day Sam gives Monty the gift he has been dreaming of – a new penguin friend called Mabel.
The ad, which aims to match the magic of last year’s The Bear and The Hare, was first released at 8am today.
Costing £1m to make, it makes its TV debut tomorrow on the first Gogglebox ad break on Channel 4. After that, expect to see the backing track – Tom Odell’s cover version of John Lennon’s Real Love – storm up the charts.
And John Lewis is hoping to cash in with a range of toys, onesies and pyjamas as well as a book based on the ad.
John Lewis marketing director Craig Inglis said: "We hope this uplifting tale of Sam’s love for his friend Monty will remind people of the magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes and inspire them to think how they can make the festive season extra special for their friends and loved ones."