Gifted child from East Barnet to star in Child Genius documentary on Channel 4

Cuneyd did not realise his talents until starting secondary school last week

Cuneyd did not realise his talents until starting secondary school last week

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

When Cuneyd Kahraman was growing up, nobody could have guessed he would eventually be considered a “genius”.

The 12-year-old, of Cat Hill, East Barnet, was handpicked out of 2,000 others to star in the Channel 4 documentary Child Genius.

He did not realise his talents until starting Year 7 at the Wisdom School, in Haringey, last year and his teachers began giving him work aimed at students much older than him.

At the age of six, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, so his parents, Fatih and Ilknur Kahraman spent five long years helping their son overcome his difficulties.

So when Mrs Kahraman, a charity worker, received a phone call from Channel 4 producers saying his teachers had recommended he audition for the show, she tried to remain “realistic”.

She said: “We thought he was lucky, so we tried to stay grounded about the whole thing. We knew he was bright, but didn’t realise just how clever he was.

“We tried to keep him grounded about the whole thing.

“When it dawned on us that this was really happening, we realised his abilities had been overshadowed by his Asperger's.”

As part of the show, due to be aired on Sunday, Cuneyd had to carry out tasks relating to logic, verbal reasoning, memory and maths, competing against ten other people.

For four months, a camera crew followed the family around to get a feel of their day-to-day activities and family dynamic. He also spent hours revising for the various tasks set.

But Cuneyd remains tight lipped about whether he made it through to the finals and says viewers will have to watch the show on Sunday to find out.

His mother added: “We tell him his intelligence is a blessing, but only if he does some good with it. It’s not for personal gain, he’s been given this gift to help other people.

“We always try to encourage him to do charity work, or help his elderly neighbours, for that very reason.

“He has to appreciate what he’s got. He can’t take it for granted. We try to keep him humble.”

Instead of going into Year 8 next year with the rest of his age group, he is skipping a grade to go straight into Year 9.

Cuneyd, who dreams of becoming a physicist or biological artificial intelligence scientist to cure paralysis, also enjoys building electronic devices in his spare time.

So far, he has created a racetrack out of kinetics as well as a motor, and is currently creating a crane.

But he also loves playing video games with brother, Tarik, ten.

He said: “I didn’t realise I was this clever. When I was younger, I robbed my mum of her dream of reading me bed-time stories because I used to bring encyclopaedias home instead.

“Being on the show was really cool, and really fun.”

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