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09.02.2016
With the help of Britt Allcroft, the producer who created the Thomas the Tank Engine television, film, and licensing franchise, we take a look inside Thomas the Tank Engine -- his fascinating history, his cross-continental television series, and his cast of characters, all as we find out what's in store for the future. But let's go back to the beginning and uncover the origins of the world's favorite little engine.
Awdry decided it was time to commit the stories to print after Christopher kept correcting his father during his frequent retellings.
The Reverand Awdry continued to write a new book nearly every year until he retired in 1972.
The younger Awdry wrote an additional 40 stories and was instrumental in bringing the popular series to the small screen. Check out the woman who wrote it on Twitter, trying to pass it off as a joke after she got thousands of people laughing in her face. Bring your little ones for a thrilling day with Thomas the Tank Engine at Wales West Light Railway May 5–6 and 12–13, 2012.
And being greeted by Sir Topham Hatt, controller of the railway, will be almost as exciting as the train ride. If you listen, you can already hear the squeals of the children as they see their favorite characters come to life at Wales West Light Railway in Silverhill, Alabama. The series is currently produced by HiT Entertainment, who filmed the series since its acquisition of Gullane Entertainment in 2002.
In April 2008, it was announced that filming of the series would transfer to Nitrogen Studios in Canada and that it would be CGI animated. Thomas & Friends is a television series mainly based around railway engines that live on the Island of Sodor. The first known attempt to make a television adaptation of the Railway Series books was by the BBC in 1953.
Allcroft rounded up a production crew, which included model director David Mitton, narrator Ringo Starr and composers Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell.
When the television series returned in 1991 with the third season, there were some big changes. The full-length theatrical film gained the title of "Thomas and the Magic Railroad" and after many changes from the original script, it premiered in July of 2000. The second direct-to-DVD special, The Great Discovery was released in 2008 and this marked the final production to fully use only models on screen. A second theatrical film, supposedly titled "The Adventures of Thomas", was set to be released in 2011, but years later and still with no news on any further developments, it is unknown whether the project will actually move on. 2013 saw Andrew Brenner take over as head writer and Arc Productions take over the CGI animations, animating the seventeenth season as well as all following seasons and specials to date. In January 2016, three more episodes from the nineteenth season aired in the UK, followed by another five episodes in March 2016. Presumably titled "The Adventures of Thomas" was the second theatrical Thomas & Friends film that was planned for release. Nominated - British Academy of Film and Television Arts - Best Animated Film, 1985 and 1987. Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell composed the show's original main title theme, songs and incidental music from 1984 to 2003.
Three real engines have been featured in the show - Stepney has made a number of appearances and City of Truro and Flying Scotsman (tenders only) played minor roles in two third season episodes. Beginning with the twelfth season, production moved from the UK to Canada and in a revolutionary step, CGI animation (provided by Nitrogen Studios and later Arc Productions) is now used to allow the faces on the characters to move with their speech and have their eyes blink as well. In the third season episode, Escape, the Fat Controller clearly states that steam engines are rare, but from the sixth season and onwards more and more steam engines have appeared in the television series. Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby, Annie, Clarabel, Henrietta, Bertie and Sir Topham Hatt are the only characters who have appeared in every season of the series.
Out of all of them, Thomas, Henry, Gordon and James are the only characters who have appeared in every special. The rolling stock seen from season 1 to season 5 were made out of modified Tenmille gauge 1 kits. There are over 400 episodes of Thomas & Friends, the 400th episode being The Thomas Way. Several models from seasons one to twelve have been put up on display in the UK, the US, Canada and Japan. 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the entire franchise and the first time that two direct-to-DVD specials were released in the same year.
For 60 years, Thomas and his friends have been delighting children and adults alike with stories of exploration and imagination. Awdry amused his son with original stories and rhymes during the long days of his recovery.
Awdry wrote another story featuring Edward that also introduced Gordon, a proud and boastful engine who eventually got his comeuppance.


Awdry drew simple companion illustrations as well -- pictures of the engines with human faces on them -- each with a different expression. After many rejection letters, he finally found a publisher willing to take the stories to print.
Christmas 1942 saw the birth of the character that would become the favorite locomotive of many children and adults.
Awdry always felt it was important to model his fictional stories and characters around real-life trains and events as much as possible.
An obscure 0-6-0T Class E2 shunting engine built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway was the model for Thomas. His son Christopher -- now grown and with a son of his own -- took up the writing of the series soon after. Like his father before him, Christopher was also quite adamant that his stories be set in real time and based in real-life events. A number of Thomas-themed activities will be available, so plan to spend a few hours creating unique arts and crafts, choosing and attaching temporary tattoos, getting wrapped up in the tales of the storyteller, watching Thomas videos, singing songs and more. Then call 888-569-5337 or visit Day Out With Thomas™ Mystery On The Rails Tour 2012 to purchase your tickets right away, before they sell out.
You may be looking for the Betamax VHS, the Pinball, the book, the book boxset or the audio book. CGI was first used during the twelfth season for the faces of the engines, people and animals, although characters in background shots would still have the traditional clay faces. The show is mainly about the title character, Thomas, a cheeky little blue tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short stumpy dome. It was decided that Hornby Dublo models would be used and everything went ahead but the project did not succeed. Instead of following closely to the Railway Series, Allcroft and Mitton loosely adapted many of the Reverend's stories as well as loosely adapted magazine stories written by the current head writer Andrew Brenner (who unfortunately did not get credited for these adaptations), they even wrote their own episodes, much to the Reverend's disdain. The film had mixed views and despite being well received in America, the film was a huge box-office failure and Allcroft was forced off the series. One of the most revolutionary steps in the show's history also took place in 2008, when it was announced that Thomas & Friends would be produced using computer generated imagery (CGI). Although there has been no official confirmation of the project's cancellation, it is presumable that the film has been scrapped. The seventeenth season also regained the initial twenty-six episode format and implemented a new writing style that promised to focus on the original charm and appeal of Thomas & Friends. To celebrate this milestone, a 44-minute special, The Adventure Begins was released in Spring 2015, the first feature to include original stories by the Rev. Little was ever known about this film and the full state of this film is still currently unknown. As of 2016, it has most likely been cancelled.
In 2004 Robert Hartshorne took their place as composer, while Ed Welch wrote the new theme tune and the songs. In addition, Thomas, Henry and James are the only characters to have at least one line of dialogue in every special.
He and his railway friends have been working the railways on the Island of Sodor for more than 60 years. In fact, at the time the television series began, there had only been two books named after Thomas specifically.
The excitement can barely be contained when your little one steps onto the train for a 25-minute ride. Or bring the grandparents, aunts and uncles to share in your child’s joy and the beach fun in a 4-bedroom condo in Gulf Shores. It was adapted for television by Britt Allcroft using the original stories from the Railway Series before using television-exclusive stories written by independent writers.
Thomas & Friends takes place on the standard gauge North Western Railway, the narrow gauge Skarloey Railway and the 15-inch gauge Arlesdale Railway. During the live airing of the first episode, Henry derailed and a hand was seen coming down to put him back on the tracks.
After the huge successes of Season 1 and Season 2, Britt Allcroft set another goal: bringing Thomas into the United States. The fourth season, airing in 1995, only had one original episode however and featured many new characters such as the Skarloey Railway engines.
The show would be produced in Canada at Nitrogen Studios and season twelve used CGI for the faces of the engines, the people and the animals alongside the traditional model format.
Season 15 premiered in early 2011 and the next direct-to-DVD special, Day of the Diesels, was released in Autumn 2011. The trains were at the scale of Gauge 1 and filmed using a 35 mm camera, in order to get quality shots from such small objects.
Awdry said, as quoted on the official Awdry Family Website, "I, along with my brother George, inherited our father's love of railways, and after moving to Box, Wiltshire, in 1917, our house was within sight and sound of the Great Western Railway's main line near Middle Hill.


Percy was pattered after an old Avonside locomotive, and the Scottish Twins, Donald and Douglas, are based on members of the 812 Caledonian class of 1899.
He wrote three short stories (this time about Thomas, Percy, and Duck) and then brought them all together in a final story.
Rather, the Awdrys treated the characters in the books as an ensemble and wrote about many different characters, some recurring and others appearing only in one or two stories. The series has been broadcast in over 185 territories and has spawned nineteen television seasons, a theatrical movie, one 44-minute special and nine hour-long specials. The head of the North Western Railway is Sir Topham Hatt, affectionately nicknamed "The Fat Controller" by the engines and staff and the Skarloey Railway is operated by Mr. Due to stricter broadcasting schedules, Britt had to create a half hour program to go with the five and a half minute episodes.
The series was doing incredibly well after that and a full-length theatrical film soon loomed ahead.
In 2001, the idea for a spin-off focusing on the non-rail vehicles was being tossed around at Gullane. This was also the first season to contain twenty episodes and this format continued until the seventeenth season. During that October, Mattel won HiT Entertainment in an auction by Apax Partners, HiT's owners and in February 2012 the money was transferred. Sir Topham Hatt), offers to an engine -- and though he sometimes gets into trouble, he always comes out on top.
Encouragement from fans and pressure from publishers and producers eager to capitalize on the tank engine's fame convinced the Awdrys to focus the spotlight on Thomas.
In February 2012, it was announced that Arc Productions would take over animation duties starting with the seventeenth season in 2013. Britt Allcroft decided to drift completely away from Railway Series stories and in 1998, the fifth season, contained all original storylines. The first fully CGI animated production was the 2009 direct-to-DVD special, Hero of the Rails, directed by Greg Tiernan. Furthermore, a special 28-minute documentary, titled 70 Years of Friendship was released exclusively on the Thomas & Friends YouTube channel on July 14th, 2015. During the process, the sixth series was produced and aired in 2002, as was the seventh in 2003.
This was also the first time the engines and people had individual voice actors since Thomas and The Magic Railroad. It was the last season animated by Nitrogen Studios, the last to have Sharon Miller as the head writer and the final season to contain twenty episodes.
Also released in Autumn 2013 was the seventh direct-to-DVD special, King of the Railway. Season 17 began airing on October 7th, 2013 in the US. Also, in Autumn 2015, the second direct-to-DVD special, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, was released. The first four episodes of the nineteenth season premiered in the UK between September 21st and September 24th, 2015. The buyer turned out to be HiT Entertainment and the eighth season, that aired in 2004, came with drastic changes. The remaining six episodes of the seventeenth season, featured on Spills and Thrills aired between July and November 2014 in the UK. In Autumn 2014, the eighteenth season aired and the following feature-length special, Tale of the Brave was released. The current television series got its start in 1979 when the Reverend Awdry was interviewed on the Bluebell Railway for a feature on steam engines. Since Season 8 this format is still being carried out for all the following seasons with great success.
The remaining six episodes of Season 18 featured on Dinos and Discoveries, premiered in the UK in July 2015. 2005 saw the broadcasting of the ninth season as well as the release of the first direct-to-DVD special, Calling All Engines!.
She had become fascinated with the characters and after getting funding from her local bank, acquired the series so she could adapt it for television.
The tenth season aired in 2006 and was the only production to contain twenty-eight episodes unlike the usual twenty-six. The first broadcasting of the eleventh season took place in 2007 and this marked the final series to contain twenty-six episodes, until Season 17.



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