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The People behind Thomas and his Friend

Reverend Wilbert Awdry

Revered Wilbert Vere Awdry named Rev. W Awdry for short was the writer of The Railway Series. He was also notably a clergyman and railway enthusiast as well. He also wrote a book about a Volkswagen Beetle named Belinda. Wilbert was born on June 15, 1911. He started the Railway Series as an attempt to cheer his son Christopher up when he was ill with the Measles. This was also the origin of how Edward came to be. These stories were later published into several books entitled the Railway Series. He ended the series in 1972 with a number of 26 books. Later on Christopher decided to continue the series, starting with the book “Really Useful Engines”. Notably the Reverend was somewhat repulsed with the TV Series due to lack of realism. He also complained much about the Season 3 story “Henry’s Forest” (this feud inspired Britt Allcroft to create the Season 5 story, “James & the Trouble with Trees”). Wilbert died peacefully on March 21, 1997. As a result David Mitton and Britt Allcroft began to write their own stories for the Thomas & Friends TV Series.

 

Christopher Awdry

Christopher Awdry is Reverend Awdry’s son and the second writer of the Railway Series. Christopher was born in 1940. When he was ill with the measles sometime in 1942, thus his father wrote some stories about talking trains to cheer him up. These stories would later become “The Three Railway Engines”. Wilbert made Christopher a model of a small model of a tank engine which he named “Thomas”. After Rev. Awdry stopped the making of the stories in 1972, Christopher started writing them by 1983, in dedication to his father. He was forced to stop the printing of stories by 1996. However after years of campaigning paid off, by 2007 he published a new story after 10 years named “Thomas & Victoria”. He also created many spin-off books for the series and wrote many annuals.

 

William Middleton

William Middleton was the first person to illustrate the Railway Series in “The Three Railway Engines”. Reverend Awdry however was very dissatisfied with his illustrations, as they were quite inaccurate. His illustrations were replaced with C. Reginald Dalby’s.

 

Reginald Payne

Reginald Payne was the second illustrator for The Railway Series in the second book “Thomas the Tank Engine” in a far more realistic style than William Middleton did. Reverend Awdry was quite pleased with how it turned out, despite how they had a disagreement on how Thomas should look. Payne could not be contacted to illustrate “James the Red Engine” and thus C. Reginald Dalby was hired. Dalby touched up some of Payne’s art.

 

C. Reginald Dalby

Clarence Reginald Dalby was officially the third illustrator for the Railway Series. Dalby did not satisfy Reverend Awdry with several errors (such as showing Henry with square buffers and how horrid he made Percy look). Despite that fact, Dalby’s bold lines, lively energy and bright gem-like colors certainly caught the reader’s attention. Dalby was born in 1904 and died in 1983.

 

John T. Kenney

John Theodore Eardley Kenney was the fourth illustrator for the Railway Series after Dalby was fired. John had given the Series quite a realistic look like Reginald Payne had before. He started at the book “The Eight Famous Engines” and ended at “Gallant Old Engine”. His reason for quitting is due to the fact that his eyesight was failing and he was unable to handle the fine details required for the Series. Kenney also illustrated at least 31 Children’s books for Ladybird Books. He also illustrated Reverend Awdry’s 1961 book “Belinda Beats the Band”. Kenney was born in 1911 and died in 1972.

 

Peter and Gunvor Edwards

Peter and Gunvor Edwards are two Swedish/English illustrators who started illustrating the Railway Series after John Kenney left. They started at the book “Stepney the Bluebell Engine” and ended at Rev. Awdry’s last book “Tramway Engines”.

 

Clive Spong

Clive Spong is the last illustrator for the Railway Series when Christopher Awdry took over the Railway Series. He started at his first book “Really Useful Engines” and the most recent “Thomas & Victoria”. He has illustrated Christopher’s various spin off books as well (“Thomas’ Christmas Party, Thomas & the Evil Diesel, Thomas & the Missing Christmas Tree, Thomas & the Hurricane and also the extended story version of “Thomas Comes to Breakfast). His illustrations also appeared in “The Island of Sodor: Its People, History & Railways.

 

Johnny Morris

Ernest John Morris is a Welsh Television presenter for the BBC. He narrated the Audio books for The Railway Series known as “The Railway Stories”. He would usually stall his narration with shushing noises and repeating words that aren’t repeated in the books. He narrated “The Three Railway Engines” to “Gordon the Big Engine” notably he never narrated “Percy & the Trousers” from “Henry the Green Engine” due to there being 5 stories instead of the standard 4. Michael Angelis would later narrate it. Johnny Morris was born on June 20, 1916 and died on May 6, 1999.

 

Willie Rushton

Willie Rushton was an English actor, cartoonist and comedian and was the second narrator for “The Railway Stories” audio books. Willie Ruston narrated after Johnny Morris and Willie would not stall the narration like Morris did. He began at “Edward the Blue Engine” and narrated the series of books until “Tramway Engines”. He was born on August 18, 1937 and died on December 11, 1996.

 

Ted Robbins

Ted Robbins is an English comedian and actor who narrated the “Railway Stories” audio books in the 1990’s. He narrated the books from “Really Useful Engines” to “New Little Engine”.  Ted was born in 1956.

 

Britt Allcroft

Britney Allcroft is the creator of the “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” series in 1984 and the co-founder of The Britt Allcroft Company. The series was started in 1984 and has since been sold and acquired by HiT Entertainment. She also created Thomas’ American counterpart “Shining Time Station” along with Ringo Starr. After Reverend Awdry died, she along with David Mitton started writing they’re own stories. Sometime around 1995 she started a contract with Warner to make a movie about Thomas entitled “Thomas & the Magic Railroad”, the movie was a complete failure due to test audience criticism of the Directors Cut. Britt was forced out of Thomas. She also created shows such as “The Magic Adventures of Mumfie” and the upcoming “The Scoobs”.

 

David Mitton

David Nelson Godfrey Mitton was the producer and director of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” from Series 1 (1984) to Series 7 (2003). He also worked with Gerry and Sylvia Anderson as a special effects technician on shows such as “Thunderbirds”. While Britt Allcroft and Ringo Starr were away at America working on “Shining Time Station”, David along with Series 1 and 2 director, Robert Cardona made their own series, “TUGS”, a series about Tugboats in the 1920’s working at Bigg City Port. The series ended after Allcroft returned for Series 3 of Thomas. David was born on July 13, 1938 and died on May 23, 2008. When he died, he was in progress of creating a CGI series named “Adventures on Orsum Island”.

 

Robert Cardona

Robert D. Cardona was the producer of the first two series of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends”. He along with David Mitton created “TUGS” in 1988. He moved to Canada in the early 90’s. He still had concepts of tugboats in mind and thus became director of “Theodore Tugboat”. He has a son named Tarquin Cardona, whom wrote two “TUGS” Stories. He also had some sort of hand in “TUGS” American spin-off “Salty’s Lighthouse”. He was born on March 7, 1930.

 

Steve Asquith

Stephen Asquith is the current director of the “Thomas & Friends” Series. He worked in “Thomas & the Magic Railroad” as Model Supervisor. He also is the one behind the original intended spin-off for Thomas named “Jack & the Pack” however these Ideas failed and the original pilots where part of Season 6, the stories were “Jack Jumps In” and “A Friend in Need” and he later adapted some more intended stories in Season 10.

 

Mike O'Donnel and Junior Cambpell

Mike O’Donnell and William Campbell were the music composers for both “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” from Series 1 to Series 7. Also they composed the music for Thomas’ Sister Show “TUGS”. They also did the score for the movie “Summer of the White Roses”. Their partnership began when they both signed to the same publisher. Mike O’Donnell was born on March 10, 1952 and Junior Campbell on May 31, 1947. Junior Campbell was in the Record “Second Time Around” by Deram Records. After HiT took over Thomas, they were replaced by Ed Welch and Robert Hartshorne.

 

Ringo Starr

Richard Starkey is an English actor and more famously known as the drummer for “The Beatles”. Ringo was the first narrator for “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends”. According to Britt Allcroft, she heard Ringo’s voice on a television and thought he would be perfect for the role of Narrator. Ringo was unsure about taking the role at first but he had a change of heart and took the role, narrating the first two series. Ringo also re-narrated the stories for Ladybird on Audio books. And he renarrated certain areas of his narration for US Release. He also played the role of Mr. Conductor on “Shining Time Station”. He left to pursue other roles. George Carlin took his role as Mr. Conductor and Narrator (for the US Release). Michael Angelis took his place as UK Narrator. He was born on July 7, 1940.

 

Michael Angelis

Michael Angelis is an English actor and the second narrator for the “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” Series. He has been narrator since 1991 and is still contributing to the Thomas community today. He started with Series 3, however his narrations of “A Scarf for Percy” to “Edward, Trevor & the Really Useful Party” were found rather dull and he had renarrated them for later broadcast. He has contributed to narrating Audio book stories such as “Thomas & the Best Kept Station” and also he narrated audio books for “The Railway Stories” in 2006 and is due to do some more for May 2009. He has done only “The Three Railway Engines” to “Edward the Blue Engine” thus far. He was also set to do the voices of James and Percy in “Thomas & the Magic Railroad” though his voicing was turned down by the Test audiences due to them saying he made them sound too old. He was replaced with Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne. He also narrated several commercials for Thomas. He also narrated for the US after Alec Baldwin left, though was quickly replaced by Michael Brandon. He and Brandon were meant to be replaced by Pierce Brosnan though that so far hasn’t happened. Michael was born January 18, 1952

 

George Carlin

George Dennis Patrick Carlin, known for his foul mouthed, black humor comedy was the third narrator and was the narrator for US Narrations. The US was decided to have its own narrator, though the choice of George was an obviously controversial one. He is known for his crude standup so without a doubt there would obviously had been some sort of skepticism. George narrated Series 3 and 4 and even renarrated stories from Series 1 and 2, which Ringo Starr had narrated in America in the past. He also took part as Mr. Conductor in “Shining Time Station” after Ringo left and as part of its spin-off, “Mr. Conductor’s Thomas Tales”. He left in 1995 to continue his comedy. George was born on May 12, 1937 and died on June 22, 2008.

 

Alec Baldwin

Alexander Rae Baldwin III is an American Actor and the fourth narrator of Thomas after George Carlin left. He is not exactly popular with Thomas fans. Conan O’Brien has complained about how he makes James sound “Gay” which other people see. He also played the role of Mr. Conductor in “Thomas & the Magic Railroad”. Alec also was part of “Story time with Thomas” in the late 90’s. He narrated Series 5 and 6 and there are rumors about that he renarrated Series 3 and 4 but this is unverifiable as of now. Alec left the series to continue his acting career. He was born on April 3, 1958.

 

Michael Brandon

Michael Feldman Brandon is an American actor who is the fifth narrator for “Thomas & Friends”. He came after Alec Baldwin left and after Michael Angelis failed for US narrator. He narrated Series 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 also narrating the US release of “Calling All Engines” and re-narrating certain episodes from Series 6. Notably when he narrated Series 6 and 7, HiT had taken over Thomas and the music was thus revised by Ed Welch instead of the standard Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell music. There is an exception in the VHS release “Thomas & the Jet Engine” which also includes Baldwin’s narrations of “Thomas & the Jet Engine”, “Percy & the Haunted Mine” and “Scaredy Engines” so thus the music was left unrevised for his narrations of “Harold & the Flying Horse”, “Bulgy Rides Again” and “Salty’s Stormy Tale”. He along with Michael Angelis are due to be replaced by Pierce Brosnan though that hasn’t happened thus far and Brandon and Angelis stayed to narrate Series 12. He expresses sadness of leaving the Series as he has had quite fun doing the stories. He was born on April 20, 1945.

 

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan is an Irish actor who is known most for playing James Bond in the “007” films. He was announced to be narrator by HiT starting with “The Great Discovery”, Thomas Special. Pierce was announced to replace both Michael Angelis and Michael Brandon as narrators for both the UK and US. However he didn’t narrate Series 12 for reasons unknown and Angelis and Brandon continued to narrate. However in special features of “The Great Discovery” DVD, he can be heard recording lines from the episodes “Don’t Go Back” and “Best Friends”. The best explanation I can think of for him not participating is because he was in the film “Mama Mia”. It is possible he may start in Series 13 in 2009, possibly with “Hero on the Rails”.

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