Hugh Bonneville – aka Mr Brown from Paddington, and, of course, Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey – has just been announced as the voice of Merlin, a new train to feature in the upcoming Thomas & Friends movie, Journey Beyond Sodor.
In the film, Thomas the tank engine leaves Sodor for the mainland, and befriends experimental engines Lexi, Theo and Merlin, who believes he can make himself invisible… just by closing his eyes. “Like so many others I enjoyed the books when I was young,” Bonneville says, “so it’s a real honour to be voicing a new character. To play an engine in one of Thomas’s adventures is a big thrill for a little boy in a grown-up body!”
The movie will be released in UK cinemas on 25th August, before being shown around the world on TV.
Check out the first trailer, below, released today (May 12th) to tie in with the 72nd anniversary of the first ever Thomas The Tank Engine book – The Three Railway Engines, written by Reverend W Awdry. And we also have a behind-the-scenes clip of Hugh Bonneville talking about his performance: