Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Full Steam Ahead! Thomas the Tank Engine Author's Centenary

It's the centenary of the birth of Thomas the Tank Engine creator, the Reverend W Awdry. Awdry died in 1997 but his legacy is still steaming ahead.

There have been all sorts of happenings around the occasion that would have been the authors’ 100th birthday (June 15th) and even some buzz about a new Thomas movie. The BBC have asked the question “where is Sodor?”, comparing the island to that of the mythical Atlantis.

First appearing in The Railway Series books in 1946, Thomas was created by the Reverend to entertain his son Christopher while he was poorly with measles during 1942. Awdry created the story and drew the illustrations himself and only took the idea to a publisher at the insistence of his wife. The books were a success and when the Reverend went into retirement in the 1980’s, his son Christopher continued the tradition by writing his own Thomas stories, the first of which was called Really Useful Engines.

Hit Entertainment, the production company who own Thomas has teamed up with The Royal Mail to create a special issue set of stamps to commemorate this event. This will delight Thomas fans, young and old. Stamps can be purchased through the Royal Mail website. The first class stamps feature Thomas, Toby, James, Percy and Daisy.

© Royal Mail

The word is that the director of the movie, 9, Shane Acker will turn the Thomas stories into a live action movie. Coming in 2014, the story, written by Josh Klausner (Shrek Forever After, Date Night), Chris Viscardi and Will McRobb (Alvin and the Chipmunks), will centre around a pre-teen boy who has a difficult relationship with his father. Through the discovery of the magical island of Sodor, this relationship is helped to get back-on-track (forgive the pun).The fact that the father has seemingly visited the island himself in his youth is strangely reminiscent of the movie, Hook (Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman)

© HIT Entertainment

Thomas’ adventures were turned into a television series by ITV in 1984, featuring the voice of Ringo Starr. The series was an instant hit with over 8.5 million viewers worldwide. There is even a Thomas theme park in Japan.

Were you a fan of Thomas as a child? Do you have a child who loves Thomas? What are your favourite Thomas related memories? Did you read the books or watch the TV series? 

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