Mattel, Inc. has announced Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine, with a special on-camera introduction from Harry, The Duke of Sussex. This Thomas & Friends animated special features Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales as a child and has been produced as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations this year.
The Royal Engine will see Thomas the Tank Engine travel to London for the first time and introduces a new character, Duchess of Loughborough, who is voiced by actress Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”, “Pride & Prejudice”).
Speaking of her part in the landmark episode, Rosamund Pike, said: “It is an absolute honour to have the chance to appear in the show. I take it as a big responsibility to play Duchess who is a lovely, warm, bubbly sort of effervescent engine that I am incredibly drawn to because she is very anxious to get things right,” said.
Chuck Scothon, SVP and GM of Infant and Pre-School, Mattel, said: “Since the beginning, Thomas & Friends has celebrated friendship and teamwork through storytelling which has cultivated fan love across generations. In this milestone 75th year, we are releasing more storytelling content than ever before to engage the next generation of fans.
“While families are spending more time at home, we are able to offer new content to enjoy together across videos, books, apps and through music and podcasts and are thrilled Harry, The Duke of Sussex is introducing this special.”
Harry, The Duke of Sussex, said: “Thomas the Tank Engine has been a comforting, familiar face to so many families over the last 75 years – entertaining, educating and inspiring children on important issues through exciting stories and characters. I certainly have fond memories of growing up with Thomas & Friends and being transported to new places through his adventures. I am very proud to have been asked to take part in this special episode. I wish Thomas & Friends a very happy anniversary.”
The on-camera introduction made by The Duke of Sussex was recorded in January earlier this year with a donation made to charity. In the 22-minute special, Sir Topham Hatt has been invited to London by Her Majesty The Queen to receive an award for distinguished service to the railway, and her son, a young Prince Charles, has asked that Thomas be the engine to bring him to the Mainland. As this is Thomas’ first time visiting London, he gets lost along the way and finds himself in all sorts of messy predicaments, but it doesn’t stop him from finding his way. Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt work together to make up for their delay, and during the journey, Thomas encounters a very important-looking new engine called Duchess.
Global plans for the Thomas & Friends 75th anniversary include more storytelling touchpoints than ever before with new specials and episodes, exclusive YouTube content, a birthday music album, podcasts for kids in the form of audio stories and all-new book titles along with exciting new partnerships where Thomas & Friends will show up in unexpected places. For more information on Thomas & Friends anniversary activities, visit thomasandfriends.com.
The special episode will be screened in the US on Netflix on 1 May and in the UK on Channel 5 Milkshake! at 9:05am on 2 May before it is then aired around the world.