List of Thomas & Friends narrators
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Thomas & Friends (previously known as Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends) is a children's television series about the engines and other characters working on the railways of the Island of Sodor, and is based on The Railway Series books written by the Rev. W. Awdry.
This article list all of the narrators, past and present, of the original English-language version of Thomas & Friends. The role of the narrators dates back to the first series. British television producer Britt Allcroft thought it essential to convey the episode as a story that would be read from a book at home.
|Narrator||Series 1||Series 2||Series 3||Series 4||Series 5||Series 6||Series 7||Series 8||Series 9||Series 10||Series 11||Series 12||Series 13||Series 14||Series 15||Series 16||Series 17||Series 18||Series 19||Series 20|
- A light green cell indicates the narrator who officially narrated the series.
- An orange cell indicates the narrator who re-narrated the series.
* Pierce Brosnan originally narrated Series 12, but withdrew.
Ringo Starr (1984–1986)
George Carlin (1991–1995)
Alec Baldwin (1998–2002)
Michael Brandon (2003–2012)
Pierce Brosnan (2008)
- Ringo Starr (U.K./U.S. Series 1–2) (UK; 1984–1986, U.S.; 1989–1990): Former Beatles drummer Starr was the first storyteller of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, and arguably the one most frequently associated with the show. Offered the part after Allcroft overheard him being interviewed on television by Michael Parkinson, Starr was initially reluctant to take it. He had never read any of the Railway Series books and felt that children would be more interested in "dinosaurs with lasers." He changed his mind after having read the books, even going as far to considering himself "one of the few children who had been deprived of them," and accepted the role, narrating the first two series from 1984 to 1986. In 1989, he also appeared in the first season of Shining Time Station, playing Mr. Conductor – the character who would relate the Thomas stories to the other characters at Shining Time – and re-recording parts of his narration to improve his voice quality and to include terminology more familiar to U.S. audiences. Starr did not return for the third series of Thomas, citing an interest in focusing on his musical career, although he remained in contact with Wilbert Awdry until the latter's death. Starr made a brief return to the franchise for the 2009 BBC Children in Need appeal, providing the voice of Thomas for The Official BBC Children in Need Medley single.
- Michael Angelis (U.K. Series 3–16/U.S. video release, 2004) (1991–2012): In 1991, television actor Angelis was hired as the next U.K. narrator for the series after Starr left to continue his music career. He had the longest tenure as storyteller of Thomas & Friends for his home country, filling the role for 21 years. In 2000, Angelis was hired to voice James and Percy in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, but then he was cut out of the film because the test audience thought his voice made them sound too old, he was replaced by Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne. He narrated every direct-to-video release (minus The Great Discovery). Angelis narrated one U.S. video release before Michael Brandon took over. In 2007, it was reported that Angelis dropped his role as U.K. narrator following the appointment of Pierce Brosnan to narrate Series 12, but Brosnan didn't return and Angelis was called back to continue as narrator from Series 12 and left after Series 16. He had been involved with Thomas outside of the TV series as well; among other things, he lent his voice to a series of story-and-song tapes in 1995 and, from 2006, the first five volumes of The Railway Series on CD.
- George Carlin (U.S. Series 3–4/re-dubbed Series 1–2) (1991–1996): Best known for his stand-up comedy roles, Carlin was chosen as the storyteller for the third and fourth series, replacing Ringo Starr who left the role in 1990. He took over the role of Mr. Conductor on Shining Time Station and, in turn, told all of the stories from Series 3 to 4. He also re-narrated all of the episodes in Series 1 and 2. While Carlin was known for his adult comedy routines, Britt Allcroft attests that he was gentle and enthusiastic in his approach to the series. Allcroft states that Carlin was nervous recording his voice alone in a sound booth – their solution was to keep a stuffed teddy bear in the booth as Carlin's "audience" for the run of the show. Allcroft also recalls that the two of them discussed their lonely childhoods, and felt that Thomas was a way of "filling some kind of void."
- Alec Baldwin (U.S. Series 5–6) (1998–2003): Known as a film and television actor, Baldwin was selected as the narrator for the fifth series, replacing George Carlin who left the role in 1995. His narrations were heard by means of the program's U.S. home video releases and on Storytime with Thomas (1999-2001). He became the third actor to play Mr. Conductor in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Baldwin returned for the sixth series in 2002.
- Michael Brandon (U.S. Series 7–16/re-dubbed six episodes; Series 6) (2003–2012): When the series debuted in its new half-hour format, Broadway, film, and television actor Brandon was not only hired to narrate Series 8, but also Series 7. He also re-narrated six of the episodes of Series 6. Brandon provided his voice for all of the educational intermissions in the new format, replacing Alec Baldwin who left the role in 2002. He also narrated every direct-to-DVD release for the US (minus The Great Discovery). In 2007, it was reported that Brandon had left the series, following the appointment of Pierce Brosnan to narrate The Great Discovery, as well as the TV series starting with Series 12. However, Brosnan left the series after narrating the special, and Brandon returned for Series 12 and left after Series 16. He is the second longest serving narrator in the series, after Michael Angelis, and the longest serving narrator in the U.S. He also worked alongside the CGI voice cast.
- Pierce Brosnan (U.K./U.S. "guest narrator" for DVD special The Great Discovery) (2008): Former James Bond actor Brosnan was enthusiastic to take up the role, recalling his experience with Thomas as a father, reading the stories for his sons. In 2007, HiT Entertainment announced that Brosnan had signed on for "all English-language releases for the brand, including three upcoming Thomas & Friends television series and three DVD specials." The announcement preceded Series 12 by several months, and Brosnan recorded lines for Series 12 episodes, and was intended to succeed both Angelis and Brandon as narrator for the series. However, Brosnan did not continue as narrator, and Series 12 aired without his narrations, instead having Angelis and Brandon resume as narrators for Series 12 as well as all subsequent releases. As a result, Brosnan has been credited as a "guest narrator" for The Great Discovery.
- Mark Moraghan U.K./U.S. Series 17–present/re-dubbed one episode; Series 13) (2013–present): Actor and singer Moraghan succeeded Angelis and Brandon as narrator of the series in 2013. He narrated Series 17 and currently narrates each and every future series as well as specials.
- "Children in Need poster on sale". BBC News website. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
- Allcroft, Britt (26 June 2008). "Los Angeles Times – "The George Carlin I knew"". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- "Pierce Brosnan Announced As New Narrator For Thomas & Friends". (Press Release). HIT Entertainment. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
- "Behind the Scenes with Pierce Brosnan," The Great Discovery DVD. 9 September 2008.
- "HIT Entertainment – Prestigious National Organizations Honor DVDs from Lionsgate and HIT Entertainment". Hitnewsonline.com. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2012.