Suffolk's Coach is man behind Thomas

THOMAS the Tank Engine is one of the longest-running and best-loved children's television programmes.

THOMAS the Tank Engine is one of the longest-running and best-loved children's television programmes.

With its intricate models and imagination-capturing storylines, the show is as popular today as it was when it was first aired in the early 80s.

And behind that success is a sculptor from Suffolk.

Sean Hedges-Quinn, better known as Coach, is head of sculpture at the hit show and is the genius behind the faces of the various engines and characters.

The success of the programme means Coach, 38, of Great Bricett, will be taking his seat at the Children's Film and Television Baftas later this month to discover whether his team has won the award for best pre-school live action programme.

Coach said: “Thomas is fantastic, I love it. It's great fun and I get to work on the most famous railway.

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“I have three children and they all think daddy works with Thomas in London.

“I have a team of four people sculpting anything involved in the show. We have such a talented group of people here and we have a lot of fun.”

The show, based on The Railway Series of books by Rev WV Awdry, has been running for 11 years, with Coach involved for the last four-and-a-half.

It features the adventures of Thomas and other trains - Gordon, Henry, James, Percy, Cranky and Mavis - on the made-up island of Sodor.

Based at the famous Shepperton Studios in Middlesex, the former Westbourne and Suffolk College student is responsible for creating the different expressions for each character.

He said: “It takes about a day to create each expression. Each character might have eight different expressions, although Thomas has around 50.”

The world of television and film is not new to Coach. After studying model-making at university, he went straight on to working on the film The Borrowers.

Other films he has worked on include Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, the Harry Potter trilogy, The Mummy Returns, Phantom of the Opera, V for Vendetta and The Hours.

He said: “I was a printer in Ipswich for seven years and a landscape gardener for a year before going to St Albans to study a degree.

“I have always been into films, but I didn't know how to get into it. But when I finished my degree I went straight into The Borrowers.

“I worked on the Harry Potter films making props. It's not many people who get paid for making monsters.”

The Children's Baftas will be held at the Park Lane Hilton on November 26.


Have you got an unusual job? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Fast Facts: Thomas the Tank Engine

Source: the internet

The television series has been translated into 19 languages and broadcast in more than 130 countries

The Rev Wilbert Awdry originally wrote the story as a bedtime tale for his son Christopher

In 1983, Christopher Awdry wrote more stories about his father's engines which were also published

There are a total of 41 books in the Thomas the Tank Engine series

Sean Hedges-Quinn also sculpted the statues of Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson which stand proudly outside Ipswich Town's Portman Road stadium.

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