Bertie the Bus
|Bertie the Bus|
|Thomas & Friends character|
|First appearance||Thomas & Friends)|
|Portrayed by||Rupert Degas
(UK/US; S15 - S16)
(UK/US; S17 onwards)
Kevin Frank (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
Bertie first appeared in 'Thomas, Terence and the Snow', a story in Tank Engine Thomas Again (published 1949). His first major appearance came in the next story, 'Thomas and Bertie', where he had his famous race with Thomas. The story proved to be very popular, which ensured that Bertie would return. He did eventually return, in Edward the Blue Engine, becoming the only non-rail character to appear in more than one book by the Reverend Awdry. He made one final appearance in More About Thomas the Tank Engine (published in 1986), by Christopher Awdry, though has had numerous mentions under Christopher's name.
Unusually, the story Thomas and Bertie was not based on a real-life incident, unlike most of the Railway Series stories. Rev. W. Awdry said that such a race was not likely due to "reprisals from authority", and he is careful to note in the story that "although, between you and me, they would like to have another race, I don't think they ever will".
TV series character
Bertie is first seen rescuing Thomas's passengers after Thomas gets stuck in a snowdrift adjacent to Mrs Kyndley's cottage, though the character is not properly introduced until the following story, Thomas and Bertie. Bertie's most famous adventure was challenging Thomas to a race in which Thomas eventually won. Bertie also had to chase after Edward after he left the station without Thomas' passengers. Bertie the bus has also appeared in several other adventures.
He is one of the best known non-rail characters in the television series. He is cheerful and boisterous, and although he enjoys a good-natured rivalry with the engines, he is most usually seen helping them out, whether bringing passengers or assisting when the railway is out of action.
Thomas and the Magic Railroad
In the film Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Bertie was voiced by Kevin Frank. In this, Bertie had a habit of saying, "Vroom-vroom!" at the end of his speeches. This habit was carried over into the television series for a short time. He also asks Thomas to have a race which is a reference to Thomas and Bertie, Better Late Than Never, Trust Thomas and Harvey to the rescue. Thomas and Bertie do in fact have another race, albeit only in the television series. It takes place in the Season 7 finale, and this time Bertie wins because Thomas had to run an emergency errand for the Fat Controller.
In real life, buses have often worked hand-in-hand with railways. Bertie is a single-decker front entrance bus, with a direct line of descent from the English charabanc of the 1930s and '40s. It is difficult to determine what sort of bus Bertie is, but the Real Lives of Thomas the Tank Engine website suggests that he is close to an AEC Regal or a Gilford.
The red livery was common on buses in the United Kingdom, most famously being used by London Transport.
In the story 'Bertie's Chase' in The Railway Series Bertie's license plate reads CRD54. CRD no doubt stands for C. Reginald Dalby, the illustrator at the time. 54 refers to the fact that the story was published in 1954. However, in "Thomas and Bertie" Bertie doesn't have a license plate at all until "Bertie's Chase".