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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.


  1. God bless Britt Allcroft for bringing the RWS to Television.

    As for the RWS's 70th Anniversary, they better do something good. Because that's what it deserves right now.

  2. Happy 30th anniversary to the series of Thomas and Friends.
    Thats all I can comment, for now. Hopefully, the show would seem to kept on continuing and hoping Andrew would make a success throughout the writers on season 19 and then.