June 12, 2008


David Mitton, a Creator of ‘Thomas’ for TV, Dies at 69 (WILLIAM GRIMES, 6/11/08, NY Times)

[David] Mitton, a veteran of British children’s programming, directed or wrote more than 180 episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine,” beginning with the first one in October 1984. The series, originally called “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends” and later shortened to “Thomas and Friends,” became an instant success on British television and in 1989 made its debut in the United States as “Shining Time Station” on PBS, with Ringo Starr in the role of Mr. Conductor. (George Carlin took over the role after one season.)

Like their British counterparts, American viewers fell in love with the put-upon but determined Thomas, described in the show’s first episode as “a cheeky little engine.”

Thomas, a bright-blue engine with a round face and big eyes, found adventure and life lessons on the mythical Island of Sodor with a team of engines that included the big, self-important Gordon, wise Edward, uppity James and pesky young Percy. Together they learned the values of friendship, teamwork, honesty and kindness to others.

The series became an unstoppable phenomenon that continued to gather steam, so to speak, long after its original creators had moved on to other projects. Now seen in 145 countries, it supports a vast empire of tie-ins that include books, video games, toys, and clothing.

...the one when our youngest said he was too old for Thomas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2008 10:35 AM

Reading the original stories for the first time is actually fairly shocking, compared to anything for kids from the past several decades. Those trains go far beyond being "cheeky"...

Posted by: b at June 12, 2008 11:39 AM

My girls (10 & 13) still like Thomas. The 13 year old loves to sing the song. She is a paradox, she wants to go to AFI concerts, wants to wear makeup but like Thomas the Tank Engine.

Posted by: pchuck at June 12, 2008 12:15 PM

One assumes the good Reverend was preparing his son to face the real world.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2008 3:08 PM

Our 2 year old loves Thomas DVDs and toys. It is by far the most tolerable childrens progamming so we encouraged it. But boy is that railway unsafe. Lots of accidents.

Also, I'm starting to think Harold is a little light in the loafers.

Posted by: JAB at June 13, 2008 12:20 AM