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Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Last Post: Roll Along Thomas ceases blogging

Well, here it is. Four and a half years later, this is the last hurrah, and after a slew of little exclusives finishing off what was left to be said, the overwhelming Tale of the Brave, the 30th birthday of the TV show, and much later than planned, this is the final furlong of the blog.

Roll Along Thomas was not meant to last forever. I begun it as a tool for any necessary findings within Thomas and used it, at the time, to publicise any videos I would have coming up on my dedicated YouTube channel, nowadays called The Thomas Variety Station, a subsidiary for Roll Along Thomas.

I then realised that I could use this to essentially be a peoples companion to anyone on the look out for news of the brand. A hub in some ways, but a collective to promote merchandise, the TV series and The Railway Series. It dawned on me that the popularity had increased among the fandom and I am still humbled by the recognition to this day. But with my acting studies and my opportunities in the profession rising, I knew I had to slow the blog down.

To condense, I just resided with the fact that not everything needs to be blogged, because I didn't have time, in later days, to talk about the most minute of things and instead focused on the more major news emerging. I even had to return to my desktop when abroad or react quickly on mobile while studying elsewhere. That's how mad its been. But personal prospects can take over you and not everything can last forever.

Now as a BA adult student, I am so fixated in the amount of work that is required to write, perform and be disciplined with, that I am extremely distracted to even think about the internet. I'd like to know how others can really find the time to go back to their most known hobbies. When there's career prospects you are working towards, the important thing, for me, is to focus on that.

I have found doing the work tough at times within the tight time-frames. Thinking up the necessary writing and paragraphs, avoiding repeating myself, making sure links are validated and proof read in order to think more creatively has been a tall order. But its been the weight on the shoulders to publish articles fast that has been the one tough task. The last several were already written weeks in advance. The world is watching...

I am blessed of those higher up and those associated who I have interviewed, spoken to and have met, enabling me to attend official launches and corporate events, leading me to become an occasional reporter for Doctor Who News (and to have been given the chance to have interacted infront of the legendary Tom Baker himself!).

A few to mention include Ben Small, Michael Brandon, Ian McCueSam Blewitt, the many representatives at Hit and Mark Moraghan for being so generous with their time to converse and for granting their blessings. It was also gratifying to have shared words in-front of Veronica Chambers and her late sister. The saviour that is Hilary Fortnam.

I hope to hear if it was worthwhile for all of you reading my work. There's so much in the archives. In some respects, I don't think I was appreciated enough. Being forgotten in lists and the odd few coming back to me then relegating vice-versa. Reading carefully can justify the correct mood that's coming across. I'd like to know what my reward is.

Thank you for using me as your guide for the world of Thomas and for following what I do. It allowed me to develop creativity in my mind and to gift the world. I grew to know more about how important policies were and to respect one another. Its been my duty therefore to gift the audience out there as I've matured and aged as a human being. I will continue to tweet about Thomas when I feel the need and to watch the show itself as a fan religiously.

If you want to know why I did this apart from the families who wanted to find ways to treat their children, I did it for the fans. I wouldn't want to pass the baton on to anyone to take over as I probably would be sceptical about the writing style and the requirements of the format. I do hope I have signalled many to push with their own blogs or websites, to do what they do, and to not do a copy and paste job of what I have done. I hope I will be surprised.

For you all, I can only promise you that big things are in store for Thomas & Friends in 2015. With The Railway Series 70th anniversary fast approaching, expect some big surprises. A few very special events, commendable additions, returning characters, the next special and a real game-changer is afoot. What area does that entail? In the words of The Fat Controller, you will see that some things are worth waiting for.

Would I ever go back to writing here or for the world? That I can't answer. It would have to be on conditions. On a lighter note, and a bit of a lovely parting gift, its perhaps slightly ill-timed and bittersweet that my baby has been given an endorsement.
C'est la vie Roll Along Thomas. See you on the other side.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Feature: Britt Allcroft's Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends TV series celebrates 30th anniversary

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends celebrated its 30th birthday today.

The TV series made its debut three decades ago today on itv in the United Kingdom on October 9th 1984, with Ringo Starr narrating the first televised episode, Thomas and Gordon.

The Railway Series creator Rev. W. Awdry and Starr at the time promoted the First Season on BBC One's Good Morning Britain in a live interview.
The show was filmed with full scale models at the prestigious Shepperton Studios in London, directed by the late David Mitton.

20 years later, the series' format was refreshed under Hit Entertainment and direction by veteran Steve Asquith in 2004 with the arrival of the Eighth Season on British television.

2009 saw the model era replaced by full CGI of Greg Tiernan and Nitrogen Studios Canada with the Hero of the Rails special, and the 13th Season following on a year later, head written by Sharon Miller.

2013 brought another change in Arc Productions Toronto continuing the CGI tradition and head writer Andrew Brenner starting with King of the Railway, bringing in Rob Silvestri to direct future specials.
That same year, the 17th Season arrived through David Baas before being replaced as director by David Stoten and Don Spencer for the latest 18th Season.

Before the milestone, Channel 5, the current home of new episodes for the UK, aired the first 16 of Season 18 from August 25th to September 16th. With 10 yet for broadcast, several are planned for DVD releases.

The 30th anniversary run has garnered a mostly positive response, some of which had already been received after being previewed on the US Trouble on the Tracks DVD.

Also acclaimed by fans was Tale of the Brave, the eighth feature-length special and the ninth movie overall in the franchise, which found its way onto UK DVD at the start of September.
Throughout its 30 years in the UK and US, Ringo Starr, Michael Angelis, George Carlin, Alec Baldwin, Michael Brandon, Pierce Brosnan and Mark Moraghan have made the pantheon of men narrating the many tales of Sodor.

Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell composed the Classic tenure's music before handing over to Robert Hartshorne and Ed Welch for the New Series, the latter for sing-a-long songs. Hartshorne continues to score the show today.

Presently, the day was marked with commendations from fans on social media, bringing attention to the Thomas & Friends UK Twitter and facebook pages.

Creator and producer Britt Allcroft, who masterminded the show's launch and its early classic seasons, paid tribute to its enduring legacy and its fans on her facebook page.

Within a couple of weeks, we found out we had 5 million viewers and all the passion, hard work, and despite the ne'er do wells, the years of preparation were all so very worthwhile. So many wonderful people to remember.
David and all the crew, Ringo, Mike and Junior, plus Lewis Rudd of ITV, who believed enough to take the gamble to give us a national TV slot, and our local bank manager.

Without his confidence, there wouldn't have been money to fund the first series! And you, the incredible fans, Everyone of you. Long live storytelling and the wonders of imagination. With love to you all wherever you are.

Hit Entertainment meanwhile are to focus on the 70th anniversary of The Railway Series in 2015.

With preperations underway, the celebrations are to coincide with a prospected 19th season of the TV show and another special, with an array of special events and surprises in store.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Exclusive: The Railway Series unlikely to be continued

Future titles for The Railway Series are unlikely to be published in the near future.

The Wilbert and Christopher Awdry collection of Thomas' beginnings saw its last entry released in 2011 with the 42nd book, Thomas and His Friends.
During the Tale of the Brave premiere in London's Leciester Square last month, Roll Along Thomas caught up with Alf Fortnam, widow of the late Hilary Fortnam, about its continuation.

No, [Christopher] is finished with itHe feels that the last one was the real closing chapter. It did say "THE END" at the last page.

He likes to keep a low profile [in the public eye] and wants it to stay that way.

Fortnam also discussed how his late wife Hilary was very serious about her Christianity and fought about the TV series' handling of the winter holidays debate, something that Hilary felt very strongly to correct.

Unlike the books, audio adaptation series The Railway Stories is in development for a return in the future, with new owners Random House Audio taking on the reigns of production.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Exclusive: Sam Blewitt on 'Tale of the Brave' and more

Sam Blewitt has detailed on his involvement in the Tale of the Brave feature-length special.

The veteran vocalist of the CGI era of the TV series returned to sing Tale of the Brave.

Earlier this month, Roll Along Thomas spoke to Blewitt about how his song came to being.

In the usual manner, Hit contacts [composer] Robert Hartshorne to put a song together, he contacts me to see when I can sing it, then we get together at his studio and start working. 

We actually recorded two versions of the song. The first one was great, but we (the producers and us) all felt on listening to it that it was a little bit too mature sounding for Thomas the Tank Engine...

It didn't quite fit. So Robert and I recorded another version, which is the one you hear now. 

The song of the same name as the story was used briefly in the special but didn't appear in its full form as an extra on DVD. Blewitt has since reacted to this.

I wasn't aware if it not being used as an extra on the DVD or that it was a shortened version.
The producers used a different type of song by another writer and producer [Eggplant LF] for the end title song [Let's Be Brave], I know nothing about that to be honest.

I'm not aware of any plans of it to be released in full, of course I would like to see that happen.

Lending his voice to more than ten songs in the franchise, the singer commented on the reception he has received.

The feedback has been fantastic. I'm very proud to have been associated with Thomas the Tank Engine, it's part of our heritage in a way. I'm honoured that the fans think so much of my work, I really enjoy working on the songs.

I do keep the songs. [I] also have some of the films and DVDs we've worked on. I need a few more DVD's, so I'll hopefully get the collection up to date soon.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Report: 'Tale of the Brave: The Movie' Vue premiere log

Waking up at 7am to catch a 7:53am train from the South Coast to London Victoria paved the way for what would turn out to be a packed but thrilling day at the Tale of the Brave blue carpet premiere.

Turning up at Leicester Square for the 10am arrival, a replica of Thomas and the appearance of The Fat Controller by a VIP arrivals spot was greeted by the PR team at Halpern. My faithful contact Candice, who I had been speaking to in the lead up, directed me to the foyer where the after-party would eventually take place.

Complimentary cupcakes, nibbles, Thomas fruit juice and smoothies from waiters were on offer to all the guests, as a few at a time, several parties made their way into the foyer to the backing track of Engine Roll Call, which I eventually heard looping for over an amassed 30 times! A table of Tale colouring pages were layed out as was a Wooden Railway play area. One guest of which early on was Wilbert Awdry's daughter, Veronica Chambers.
Thomas and The Fat Controller face the music. Taken by Louie Sparkes.

It was a conscious sense not to approach bearing in mind the passing of loving sister Hilary Fortnam. Ten minutes pass and Mark Moraghan in smart casual wear and a leather jacket shows up with his wife and two kids before light entertainment from Sharky & George started to show fun tricks to children, at one point right near a bemused Moraghan!

Presenter Vanessa Feltz makes her way in as a gentleman who I remember from the past walks near me and starts to check his bag. Greeting him, it was Alf Fortnam, widow to Hilary who I encountered along with Veronica and Hilary after the Day of the Diesels premiere in Hamleys Regent Street. Alf recalls this and we get into conversation about each other's hobbies.

He accepts his wife's passing by tributing her tireless work for the Christian faith and mentions the public debate in the press about her attempts in changing the winter holidays scandal. I reply to how the said issue resulted in delaying Merry Winter Wish's by a year, something that he was unaware of but knew about the re-dubbing happening behind-the-scenes.

Another gentleman pops over and introduces himself revealing to be the Awdry's manager, whose name unfortunately couldn't be heard owing to the noisy environment. He comments on Hilary and brother Christopher Awdry's infatuation for their father's work. I question why Christopher doesn't turn up to the premieres.
Entering the pre-show area.

Alf gives an understandable answer that he likes to keep a low profile and wants it to stay that way. I ask if he has anymore Railway stories in mind. Alf again quips, no, he is finished with it. He feels that the last one [No. 43. Thomas and His Friends] was the real closing chapter. It did say "THE END" at the last page. We thank each other for the chat and go to speak to other friends.

Stills from Tale are seen up close on an overaching desk with Tale ham or cheese lunchboxes up for children's grub needs. Next to it's left is a big artwork of Thomas, Percy and James as seen on the DVDs and posters. Mark Moraghan is then interviewed by a small camera crew of two talking about his role and the special.

Five minutes later, I approach him and remembers me from a previous encounter, after performing in 9 to 5: The Musical in Southampton. I share a few tidbits of my week at the time including filming as an extra on a comedy show for ITV2 for late September till we speak of one of his upcoming films, Allies, on its trailer, premise and slightly confusing distribution. We're all called to go downstairs to Screen 5 so the both of us say goodbye.

After starting to make my way to my seat, a familar face greets me. ellsworth who I hadn't seen since The Star Tugs Trust's Battlefield Railway convention in March. We catch-up on how we got to the event, who else is in the room, a few hush hushes on new episodes and the security of spoiling the film before we sit down in our allocated seats as the film is about to start.
Tale of the Brave becomes the event of the week.

Next to me sits a man with his family, similar to my age, who reveals himself to be one of the competition winners. Some talk of our travels, collection of DVDs ensues. Not before the lights dim and who pops in than none other than The Fat Controller to introduce the main attraction. He compères proceedings, encourages the children to feel the excitement and goes on to urge the following.

I have to say this to all of you that there must be no recordings allowed so... please, turn off your phones and you will be all be really useful. Now, are we ready to go? Well without further ado, here it is, enjoy the fim, its time for Tale of the Brave. Bye bye! Four Thomas commercials play out including Thomas Land, Take-n-Play, Day Out with Thomas and TrackMaster before the special's second trailer ends the advertisements. The film starts...

Some laughter, wailing, gasping and open mouths later, the end credits finish and the audience applauds. It was very good. Everyone exits the room after 11am and make their way back upstairs for the after-party. A few minutes later, I rendezvous with ellsworth again as he talks to a woman with the Awdry manager who asks her to sign the Big Golden Book of Tale.

I get puzzled, so she jokes with her presumed celebrity status. I introduce myself and she follows. I'm Sara Fortnam, I'm Alf's daughter. She then remembers her mother and jokes of her father dragging her out in the wet. Trading of what we do, she leaves a few moments later.
One scene from the posters was not in the story.

I then realise that someone is by my shoulder. A voice murmurs and a hand shake is offered. Ryan from SiF greets me after meeting briefly at the above mentioned Battlefield event. This time round, we talked more, as did fellow SiFer Christopher. Ryan comments on how brilliant the film was and of its strength in its story. He then mentions of my departure from the blog saying that for four years.

The commitment was there and I can understand for it to be hard for you to do it when you have your life and career to look forward to in the way. Not every person can be free to keep on going with those fandom projects like us with our ones because we are in the same position too. The subject matter of Martin T. Sherman's departure from the US Thomas voice is brought up.

Ryan tells me more of it which surprises me and another insider, but those things are perhaps best left unsaid. A woman comes over to give us our this time cotton goodie bags with Thomas chocolates, a poster, a Story Library book, a MEGA Bloks pack, a Take-n-Play model but no Tale DVD.

Ryan and Christopher are confused as to why they have a copy each of The Complete Series 15. I go one up by discovering that I have two copies in hand! I then consider to give one to a boy I know near where I live, until Ryan steps in rather manically to prevent me from doing it. Some rude words are shared by him!
The afterparty. The Fat Controller introduces the film. The goodie bag.

We then go to meet a person who remembers the duo and is known as Ian McCue, producer for the show, who went on to explain how hard it is for head writer Andrew Brenner to think up the strengthness of material as witnessed in the film, even going to say that, King of the Railway was the starting point for the new times of the series but Tale of the Brave really packs a lot of punch with the emotion and isolation of the story and characters.

We are then treated tellings of what's to come for the next few years concerning returning characters, what the focus is of the next feature-length special and big plans for the 70th anniversary of the brand. You are all in for a treat, you just have to wait and contain. Big things are coming, one of those is a real game-changer. Ian then directs us to a familiar face who shakes hands with all of us. Keith Wickham.

Keith remembers of my interview he did for me near the blog's beginnings and goes on to say that , the film was great. I had a lot of fun with it. He then queries that Jonathan Broadbent probably based his Bill and Ben voices on a new Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. We then joke of what kind of classic comedians who seem fit for voices for future new or returning characters. I mention Tommy Cooper, to which Ian and Keith get in awe of. It was a matter of time before Ryan chose the inevitable Billy Connolly!

Ryan and Christopher speak of their infatuation with Keith's Yorkshire Stafford being a perfect fit. Ryan jokingly questions of trying to get a Scotsman voice into the series. Keith reminds him of his Harvey voice. We all realise that Ryan did not even know that Keith voices the crane engine! Keith says goodbye, as does Ian.
Friends in SiF. Hamley's Thomas & Friends area. Reuniting with two old mates.

Ryan and Christopher are ready to leave as the former has to catch a plane back to his home of Scotland. He mentions that Louie is outside wanting to talk to him. I realise that this is the same Louie I know of Sparkes [skarlouie], a real friend. He is surprised to see me and I'm surprised to see him with Michael Evans [AardmanMike]. They are pleased to meet the two before hugs are given to see my friends again after a gap of three years.

Posing for photos and joking around, SiF parts company. The remaining three of us have the time to hang out for a much needed catch-up. I share the film without spoiling but tease it rather delicately and what could be store for the three of us, based on earlier comments.

We eat, partly during a quick typhoon of a summer storm for 15 minutes in the square, and lead ourselves to see merchandise in Hamley's and lark about. 6:45pm comes and we decide to part ways in order to get home safely.

With the gleeful excitement that happened and the new friends made in life, it was a fancy day full of gossip and fulfillment, so thank you to the team at Hit Entertainment and the PR folks at Halpern for the day. It was lovely.

See you next year for the next tale.

Tale of the Brave: The Movie rolls into Vue cinemas across the UK from August 22nd to 28th. The DVD is released in the UK on September 1st, the US triple play Blu-ray on the 16th and in Australia and New Zealand on October 1st.

Thomas & Friends' 18th Season premieres on Channel 5 milkshake! in the UK on August 25th at 7:35am, with the episode, Old Reliable Edward.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

'Tale of the Brave' Spoiler-Free Review: The Verdict

There is much reliability to make a special good then to up the stakes for what comes after. But can it disappoint? Sometimes...

This is where it is better to be secretive to others who have yet to see a finished product. If there is a shock or a twist or a joyous moment, it can be a better feeling to be surprised and to have that thrill every now and then. The proper viewing experience, how its meant to be. This is where this review falls, no spoilers. You pay to see the film for the excitement and not to be a complete show-off to the world.

So, be inclined to agree to those who do tend to open their mouths that you would like them to keep schtum. Tagging a first TV debut for Season 18 at the end, here is the Roll Along Thomas spoiler-free review for the Tale of the Brave.

From the moment the first visual appears, it is already fan service, and this is only through an extended pre-titles sequence clocking in at five minutes. The first two visuals in question have already been advertised, but they fit in so perfectly that it is as if the film is saying that you won't be disappointed for what else is in store, and thankfully, that is where Tale hits the mark.
We follow Thomas to re-introduce the Clay Pits, which looks spectacular, and it is here that Arc Productions and Rob Silvestri's guidance show what they can do creatively with the now much bolder and visually dazzling animation. Bill and Ben are back to their tricky selves, the start of Railway Series references, as Thomas struggles to rendezvous with them, leading to a few moments of camera following engine with no narration for 40 seconds!

All that is heard is the chuff chuff environmental soundscape and the atmospheric music by team HartshorneRobert and Peter. Timothy, voiced with a brummy dialect by Tim Whitnall, is given an introduction from a mishap involving his trucks and Thomas, so Bill and Ben are here to stay. This leads to Thomas taking a load away and moving towards the start of an avalanche, one of a few ensuing trouble for the engines.

The footprints discovery is made, but this discovery is not the same "finding a lost or new engine or place and ending with a grand opening", this special is different and has many surprises along the way. But the blue engine gets into trouble, so are they any heroes about?

What follows in the title sequence is something that will certainly make the long-term fans be in awe of, not necessarily in the illustrations, but with the font and the 40s style work to the night theme used. Its a real coo, it promises a lot to come. We find the Steam Team, the clay twins and silent input from a singular Rosie cameo and eventual three timer Stanley in the yards with The Fat Controller encouraging the engines to work down to the coal.
We say hello to Marion in the pits who is informative with her presence. It is as if the pen of Andrew Brenner wants to really educate the audience and he does that a few more times later on. Marion shows colours of bubbliness and companionship while singing songs during work. The BAFTA winning actress voicing clearly had to have a lot of fun with her, not in her occasional screen time, but to provide all that bubbly. Wait for the end credits to learn her name!

The silhouette of our big new accomplice Gator creeps past the screen by a glittering pond and horizon, tied in with in the moment CGI, a fearful piece of soundtrack, a scared frog and again no narration for 25 seconds, this is heavenly spooky direction. Percy gradually takes over as the lead with the start of a scene at a busy workplace involving the mail run.

Moving through the misty hills and hitting the bottom, it is here that the green little un' develops the continuous scared-ness upon finding the moving silhouette creeping towards him. With probably a sense of railway rule forgetfulness, we're back at The Docks to say a humble greeting to the alligator gentle giant, thrown in with a few bits of humour from an accidental Cranky and Thomas.

Gator assures us of his being and having the brave-ness to get on with life, a theme that is reminded in many ways through the hour. But Percy is still unsure of the brave as he fears for his protection in a Tim Burton-esque musical sequence of Monsters Everywhere, boldy going where no Thomas production has gone before, most notably at the end of the interval involving some cartoon-ish imagery.

Percy misses the mark of time and severely affects punctuality, something that Topham Hatt acknowledges. James is back to his teasy ways not long after the events of The Phantom Express, but plays it out as if its an extended version of Scaredy Engines. Gator tells Percy of his past, in another treat from Arc, reminding of his issue with gravity.
Percy takes this into account and, at some point during sunset, tells Thomas about what he feels he should do. If you saw King of the Railway and appreciated the downplay of the special coal issue, wait till you hear Thomas' reply. Its a whoofer of a throwaway line and it will make you laugh!

Continuing to bully No. 6, James finds himself in a diversion and encounters, to quote Blackadder, a twisty turny thing. Reg is unfortunately severely limited in this feature and is just there... just there, its a disappointment. This also applies to Timothy, who even talkative at the first quarter is later relegated to a sleeping scene in the third quarter. Gator however guides Percy through and plays a dominant supporting role in the assurance of confinement.

But Gator's residential status and origins are questioned. Another musical interval follows with the duo travelling together and assuring one another, with the aid of peaceful instruments similar to Blue Mountain Mystery and the return of a vocalist that will make you whoop a little cheer, Tale of the Brave will make you smile and take things in your hearts.

During this, Gator becomes cautious over a long section of track. When Percy passes it, Gator succeeds in brave-ness, then comes an extreme wide shot of the referred location last seen in the 16th Season. It is a big beautiful shot, thank you Arc.

But No. 5 has none of Percy's beliefs and is helped by a considerable sort of henchman to frighten him. He mercilessly taunts the small engine back at sheds, leading to the tender engines to tease him more. It is Emily's moment to shine and a one line delivery will make you love and believe in her more, its brilliant.
Enough is enough for Percy and he proceeds to take matters into his own buffers by lifting his ego away at Brendam. He is cross just like in Day of the Diesels, but he's on form here. With Topham wanting a word, Thomas realises the worst. A punished James is reunited with The Smelly Kipper and lands into a trouble at float, mirroring a highlight from James to the Rescue. Arc this time provides the thrills, and it looks terrific.

Cranky gets his most caring scene ever before a plan is quickly forgotten. The crane is tasked with his strength to commit and is therefore threatened. Its a tense minute and will leave you on the edge of your seat. The climax takes place in the large landscape of... well, that would be telling. Big trouble arrives and the lives of three engines are at risk when one is simply not scared of things, until...

The action steps up a gear and gives Arc a lot to do, a lot. The end of it references a classic 90s episode before an engine is once again in threat. A move by a character, who treads boards early on in the film, becomes a saviour and quotes an ironic line from Shakespeare before a celebration is attended by a recent popular addition for a cameo. One mistake however involves Topham exclaiming two words when someone leaves, shoehorned in and out of character.

The farewell scene becomes a bittersweet moment and hits you in the centre, and it makes one character find an improvement in their-self, it fulfils them and it is heart warming. No end of special music video this time, instead we have Eggplant LF giving us a fast mix while delightfully, the voice cast are given the exposure they've needed for years, perhaps something you might have recalled in The Simpsons Movie.

There's a lot to look forward to in this credible instalment but really the special is about the actions made between Thomas, Percy and James which come full circle. Concerning new blood, Gator is the most prominent and acts as the big friendly giant in directing Percy through. While Marion is given beginning coverage before quietly dropping out until providing faith in the third act, Timothy is limited. The worst offender is Reg who is there for just a few lines.
However, minor quibbles aside, what makes Tale so absolute is the amount of heart that is in the story, the characters, the drama and the throwbacks to old, classic and new material. Blue Mountain succeeded in delivering those goods but Tale doubles it up incredibly. In terms of Arc Productions, it is probably the best ever animation to ever feature in a Thomas & Friends episode and it makes the story worthwhile. Many complex angles, originality and depth.

There are scenes which could well scare younger viewers but it does so in a good way as the whole hour challenges the un-confident to be assertive, and it works. One mystery is the sights of reptile footprints which do tease what's in store for the next endeavours on Sodor. This is the definitive start of a better life for the show and packs many surprises and heart. Its lovely, it really is the Tale of the Brave and its as if the film is saying "and we're back".

Tale of the Brave gets an...

Tale of the Brave: The Movie rolls into Vue cinemas across the UK from August 22nd to 28th. The DVD is released in the UK on September 1st, the US triple play Blu-ray on the 16th and in Australia and New Zealand on October 1st.

Thomas & Friends' 18th Season premieres on Channel 5 milkshake! in the UK on August 25th at 7:35am, with the episode, Old Reliable Edward.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Exclusive: Stars and crew assemble for 'Tale' premiere

Tale of the Brave: The Movie treaded the boards of the United Kingdom with its premiere.

The Vue cinemas event, held in London's Leicester Square on August 10th, greeted passers-by with the appearances of Thomas and The Fat Controller posing for photos outside.
Roll Along Thomas were present as were cast members Mark Moraghan and Keith Wickham, with composer Peter Hartshorne and producer Ian McCue representing the crew.

Railway Series alumni saw Veronica Chambers and widow of the late Hilary Fortnam, Alf Fortnam, alongside the Awdry's management. SiF's Ryan and Christopher were also in attendance.

Meanwhile, famous faces came with the multi-talented actor and writer Danny Wallace, presenter Vanessa Feltz and Radio 1 and 1 Xtra DJ Mistajam.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Exclusive: Hit Entertainment talks future Series 19

Another series of Thomas & Friends remains an open phase, Hit Entertainment have said.

A follow-up to the 18th Season is expected in the near future owing to the greater popularity of the brand and the newer seasons of the show.
Roll Along Thomas spoke with Hit in April, who gave no official confirmation, but teased for a press release.

We are all very excited about the prospect of another series of Thomas & Friends, however, we are unable to share more at this time. We will have more content development news to share later this year.

Five never before seen episodes from 2014 are available to buy in the US on the Trouble on the Tracks DVD.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Exclusive: Origins of Discover Thomas layout revealed

The origins of the Discover Thomas & Friends Exhibition in the UK have been uncovered.

From its inception in 2009, the exhibition at Drayton Manor's Thomas Land is home to some of the models and sets seen in the Classic and New era of the show.

Roll Along Thomas were forwarded info in June from the layout and the park's designers, RMA Themed Attractions, about several models initially proposed.
Thomas, Rosie, Edward, Harvey and Stepney are known to be the only stationed engines. Bulgy, Trevor, Elizabeth, Terence and Bulstrode represent the road characters.

According to RMA in 2009, only the popular characters will be going on the layout.

We've also got Gordon and Toby here, as well as a diesel engine all in black. A blue narrow engine will be on top of a canyon. Gordon and Diesel are however hidden under the layout along with an assortment of props.

They include grey and brown cargo vans, a cattle van, a jam tanker, a truck full of tinned cans and Edward's happy, clenched and tired face casts.

Discover's storage also contains Sodor circus vent vans, balloon trucks and Flora's tramcar with tarp, all of which can be seen on RMA's website.

Thanks to ellsworth.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Exclusive: Hit Entertainment on UK Blu-ray question

Hit Entertainment have revealed the reason behind the lack of Blu-rays for the UK.

2011 brought the first high-def release for Britain with the Day of the Diesels double play but remained the singular story met with the treatment.
The US has continued its collection of feature-length specials on HD disc from Misty Island Rescue up to September's Tale of the Brave triple play from Universal Home Entertainment.

Roll Along Thomas talked with Hit in the spring to find out about the lack of future UK Blu-rays.

We release content in formats that best suit the needs of our fans and consumers. We therefore have no plans to release Blu-ray formats in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Exclusive: Harvey return in CGI helped by Thomas Land

Drayton Manor's Thomas Land played a part in Harvey's return to the TV series, it has been revealed.

The crane engine made a successful comeback in the 17th Season in two installments, most notably his re-establishment in Gone Fishing.
In 2012, Drayton's UK Thomas theme park were involved in his re-introduction, a recent visit witnessed.

Their involvement came, according to a representative of the land's Discover Thomas & Friends Exhibition.

Harvey was indeed sent back to Hit Entertainment to be modelled for CGI, the exhibition and Bryan's Museum member said.

Thanks to ellsworth.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Announcement: The end of Roll Along Thomas...?

It is with gracious and careful thought that after over four years, Roll Along Thomas will be no more, come October.

This is the moment I've been dreading for a while and have been contemplating for two months, so please read in full. It is to do with my future and have come to realise that I cannot go on with my blog for long. But, when you've got to go, you've got to go. If I don't let go now, I may find it harder to step away from it.

In September, I will be continuing my studies in acting as a BA honourate, planning to venture forth in other cities and have picked up an odd few opportunities in the business. Throughout the latter part of this year to 2015, I will need to be at my most creative, focused and consider time in order to progress with my career and for what's to come for me. I want to step away from blogging before it becomes stuck with me for the rest of my life.
(A visit to Thomas Land. 2011.)
Another reason why I have called it a day is due to the minutes and hours of excessive discoveries from the fans prompting me to think up original sentences and paragraphs within little time. The moments of spontaneity has been tough, having to rush back and forth to my desktop without a few hours of rest, so it has been physically draining, especially when other workloads can take over me. Now, October is when the end comes...

I tend to credit whoever sends or finds me links as a courtesy, which I believe the fanbase lacks... trust. When I don't credit peers, its mainly to do with who found what first as fans would pick an item up, leading to confusion. In some cases, news items can be too late to be reported, past their sell by dates or by lack of publicity from companies. Incidentally, when a discovery is made, is it really news? A worst of poll including a 2000 film is questionable...

My eye on the internet hasn't allowed me to leave my study. Having to design the necessary images for posts and sprucing them up from home sources was another challlenge. There has been tough weeks, especially the week of June 23rd, the slew of Tale of the Brave's publicity. The specials I will say have received the most interest in viewership, according to Blogger's demographics.
(Return to the Bluebell Railway. 2013.)
If I have to be honest about the fanbase who are dedicated and certainly passionate, the certain lots who have overused words (such as the o word... that's repetition.) to get through conversations are bizarre to see. The fangirling behaviour from time to time is also another asset, I have to say, wishing for things to come when it can be denied of truth even for a show squarely aimed at 2-6 year olds.

I'm aware of the so-called hardcore generation and Wikias, but the way that tweets or online conversations go, it can look acid. That's when other internet users tend to step in to harass or rather annoy those responsible for being too excited for one detail after another. Its not my hatred of fans, absolutley not, its just the bizarreness of how out of control things can go.

Calm through. Surprises can be a better feeling than not having your wish come true. I will use this opportunity to quote two songs to reflect my passion. Don't judge a book by its cover, just remember the rule... The Island of Sodor, magical land where dreams come true.

The dreaded nation of spoilers is disrespectful. I do feel for the many who'd rather not be surprised until the day whichever product is meant to arrive for them. Checking timelines, whether its your YouTubes or your facebooks or your Twitters, it can be a real blow. Example; when a trailer for a major blockbuster is released, the tantalising spoilers of plot and visuals can damage the viewing experience, judging something in a low accord.
(A surprise or two at the Battlefield Line Railway. 2014.)
It is also disheartening when the powers of be at Hit Entertainment see the cryptic nonsense going on, especially when I learnt at a railway event in April by a member of the team (who shall remain nameless) divulged to myself that they, even at Thomas production, oversaw tweets made to be disappointed with how leaks have gone.

I was surprised to learn that my site has been used by the crew as a backbone for seeing developments and decisions made by websites and studios to release information on anything Thomas. Although spoilers have been a thing, I didn't want to blog about them, otherwise I'd be held responsible for ransom and didn't want to be spoilt myself. I however got to know the odd secret or two, but I kept my mouth shut.

In retrospect, I am sometimes miffed of the support in terms of the timing of when my word of mouth mentions news, sometimes lacking response, as there have been in numbers. But to those who did, those eager, websites, friends, groups, online communities, producers, long time fans (you all know who you are, even the ones who went back to me after misinterpretation), I just want to say this... thank you.
(The archive.)
I will continue to watch the show and the brand religiously without having to worry about watching my eye on the internet and to enjoy things as a casual viewer. I will also continue to participate in fans' YouTube series (so long as the script or people are good!) and attend events dutifully to lend support and to talk to those willing for answers or for the pure banter.

For now, if there's any questions, submit or tweet me things you'd like to know, why things weren't blogged and what of the blog you may learn. I will gladly answer them. To culminate, I will only continue for now with a few more exclusives to look forward to on the way. Answers for the fans. I did this for the fans.

Until then, birthday come Saturday. I prepare for my departure and a little event in the capital in October. Trust Thomas. Thank you.