Hot off from the enthusiastic reception of it’s predecessor, Series 21 rolled in a few significant developments ahead of the next chapter of the Thomas brand.


Ian McCue had progressed to Director of Creative Content at Mattel, overseeing fellow brands such as Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder, but remained firmly involved as Senior Producer while handing over his previous duties to former production manager then line producer Micaela Winter, the first female producer since creator Britt Allcroft. With Andrew Brenner busily head writing fresh CBeebies vehicle Pablo, he consigned himself to script editing duties for returning writers Davey Moore, Helen Farrall, and Lee Pressman, the latter contributing the most for the season.


Adhering to the target audience more, added flourishes of contemporary music and flash camera movements were implemented, as were expressed inflections. Though exaggerated in Journey Beyond Sodor, this allowed more flexibility for the characters, breathing more personality and emotion.


While Series 20 was a landmark in it’s own right, so was 21. Half of the run focused on females, Terence the Tractor came back for his first speaking role since Series 5, Bulgy the Bus made a surprise return and the character of Rosie was relaunched, becoming alot more rosier! As if that wasn’t enough, it tied the series together with sister show TUGS, giving Brendam Docks’ long-obscured crane the ability to speak and christening him “Big Mickey”, on-screen! This was the work of Railway Consultant Sam Wilkinson, also co-director of The Star Tugs Trust; the preservation of the screen-used TUGS models.


Certain storylines positioned themselves before or after the events of Journey Beyond Sodor, albeit, in a scattered pattern. For example, Rosie’s actual re-introduction played out in The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor and Edward’s move from Tidmouth to Wellsworth became neatly tucked away until A Shed for Edward.


Produced side-by-side with its timely follow-up, it ran for 18 episodes rather than the traditional 26, with the production team opting to instead devote time and energy into the quality of a big world of adventures…