How BBC's Thomas The Tank Engine pilot hit the buffers

How BBC’s Thomas The Tank Engine pilot hit the buffersand almost derailed completely

  • Disaster struck the corporation’s botched pilot episode in 1953, it’s revealed
  • A letter from the original book’s creator said an on-air derailment caused chaos
  • The next TV adaptation came about through ITV in 1984, narrated by Ringo Starr
  • Creator Reverend Wilbert Awdry’s letter, worth £300, was found at charity shop
  • It was the botched television pilot episode that derailed the BBC’s chances at making Thomas The Tank Engine one of their own series.

    Disaster struck during the corporation’s initial episode of the story in 1953, それが明らかにされました. A letter from the book’s creator Reverend Wilbert Awdry says the BBC used a model railway to bring characters in The Sad Story of Henry to life – but live on air one train derailed and a crew member’s hand shot on to screen to rectify it.

    It forced the narrator to change track – Rev Awdry claims she ‘tried bravely to adapt the script to suit what was happening’. His letter is the response to one from a disgruntled viewer. 彼が書きました: ‘The fundamental trouble was that the BBC thought that it is child’s play to operate a model railway and did not allow enough time before programme day for the models (A) to be made and tested properly and (b) for very careful rehearsal of their programme.’

    He disallowed the BBC to continue after the pilot unless it guaranteed no further mistakes. A BBC spokesman said at the time: ‘We should have had a child in the studio to keep the electric trains running.’

    Thomas the Tank Engine (に描かれています 1984 ITV series) went on to be a worldwide sensation

    Thomas the Tank Engine (に描かれています 1984 ITV series) went on to be a worldwide sensation

    手紙, estimated to sell for at least £300, was found in a charity shop and will be put up for sale by Bellman’s Auctioneers of Wisborough Green, ウエストサセックス, 七月に 14. The next TV adaptation was not until ITV’s in 1984, narrated by Beatle Ringo Starr.

    手紙の中で, Rev Awdry criticised the show’s producers for treating the performance as ‘child’s play’ and failing to practice the scenes.

    Christopher Awdry, son of creator Rev Wilbert, poses with a Thomas plush toy

    Christopher Awdry, son of creator Rev Wilbert, poses with a Thomas plush toy

    Rev Awdry wasn’t as harsh on the narrator of the programme, thought to be Julia Lang, who presented Listen with Mother, or Noelle Middleton, one of the first BBC television announcers.

    ‘I agree with you that the narrator was much too BBC in the tone of voice, but she must, poor girl, have had rather a trying time,’ he conceded.

    ‘When things went wrong, she tried bravely to adapt the script to suit what was happeningbut events were too much for her in the end!’

    Nicholas Worskett, a specialist at Bellman’s Auctioneers, 前記: ‘Since it was a live broadcast, pre-dating TV recording devices, the original programme is now considered irretrievably lost.

    ‘It is well-known to aficionados of TV history as a part of entertainment folklore.

    ‘The majority of letters by Reverend Awdry come from much later during the period of the TV show in the 1980s.

    ‘This one is therefore unique and difficult to estimateit could go for higher than £300.’