While not an educational children's program in the way that, say, "Sesame Street" is, "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" still falls squarely into the categories of pro-social and learning-friendly. The difference is that instead of concentrating on ABCs and 1-2-3s, the show teaches young viewers lessons in cooperation and friendship.
"I had a mission and that was these stories would absolutely entertain, but they would do more," says producer Britt Allcroft. "They would help support children emotionally in the early years of their life, when they're learning about being human beings and experiencing all that goes with making friends or losing friends."
She adds, however, that teachers do use the numbers and the varied colors that adorn each character as teaching tools.
Through its official Thomas Web site, www.thomasandfriends.com, HIT Entertainment continues to promote the show's dedication to teaching "a strong community ethos and a willingness to embrace good manners, hard work, and a desire to be 'Really Useful.'" Interestingly, it also promotes a benefit of the series to a particular segment of its audience: boys. "You'll discover that Thomas & Friends is the ideal vehicle to help keep boys on track and channel their energy and behavior in a really useful and productive manner," the promo reads.
The puns are, of course, completely intentional.
As charming as Thomas is, he's surrounded by an equally charming cast of co-workers and friends. In the next section, we'll look into Gordon, James, Sir Topham Hatt, and more.