Adapted 'Thomas the Tank Engine' for TV

David Mitton, a director and screenwriter who adapted children’s favorite “Thomas the Tank Engine” for television, died May 23 in London after suffering a heart attack a week earlier. He was 69.

In 1984, Mitton directed a pilot for a show based on the Rev. Wilbert Vere Awdry’s stories about Thomas, a plucky blue train engine, and his locomotive friends. The show became an international hit and later a marketing phenomenon, with a string of spinoff toys and other merchandise.

Mitton went on to direct more than 180 episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends,” and wrote many of them. He was a consultant on the 2000 spinoff feature film “Thomas and the Magic Railroad,” narrated by actor Alec Baldwin.

Mitton served in the Royal Air Force before starting a career in children’s television in the early 1960s.

He worked as a special effects technician for Gerry Anderson — creator of innovative marionette adventure series “Captain Scarlet” and “Thunderbirds” — before co-founding the animation company Clearwater Films in the 1980s.

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