David Mitton, a creator of the gentle children’s television series “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends,” which evolved into an international hit and a merchandising juggernaut, died on May 16 in London. He was 69.
His death was announced on May 28. The cause was a heart attack, said Michele Fabian-Jones, one of Mr. Mitton’s partners in Pineapple Squared Entertainment, a children’s television production company.
Mr. 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.”
Why it took a month for the NYT to run something on this, I don't know, but what's worse is that the reporter gets the description of Thomas wrong. Thomas wasn't the engine who felt "put upon" (that was Percy). Thomas was the "really useful engine."
My son, even at 10, is a huge Thomas fan (although he thinks he's too old to like Thomas now) and we should own stock in Thomas for all the paraphernalia we have. We even rode Thomas when he made an appearance at Fair Park in Dallas.