Thomas and Friends Oliver, History & Stories
Oliver, the green Great Western tank engine, is the renowned number 11 engine on the North Western Railway. His story starts with a remarkable escape from the scrapyard, thanks to the intervention of Douglas. After this daring rescue, Oliver, along with his faithful brake van Toad, became a valuable member of the railway.
Despite his heroic escapes and daring adventures, Oliver remains a humble and modest engine. Initially, his recounts of daring escapes led to a conceited demeanor, but a mishap with the troublesome trucks quickly taught him the importance of humility. With Toad's help, Oliver gained respect and authority among the trucks, becoming a trustworthy, plucky, and sensible engine. Though occasionally boastful, Oliver is one of the most well-behaved and useful engines on Sodor.
Oliver is based on the Great Western Railway (GWR) 14xx Class 0-4-2T. These engines featured a unique mechanical system that allowed remote control from an 'Autocoach.' Surviving in preservation, four engines of this class serve as the basis for Oliver's design.
Oliver's paint initially faded, leaving him in a rusty red color after his rescue. However, after his arrival at the North Western Railway, he was painted in the iconic NWR unlined apple green livery. The 1934 GWR crest adorned the sides of his tanks, while his number (11) was painted in yellow on the sides of his cab.
Oliver has been featured in various episodes and media throughout the Thomas & Friends series. From his daring escapes to his adventures with Toad and other friends, Oliver's appearances have left a lasting impression on the audience.
Oliver's Theme Connection: Oliver's theme, first heard in the third series, is musically related to the theme from the 1963 film, The Great Escape. Some fans have also noted its similarity to a portion of the TUGS Danger theme and John Williams' theme for Indiana Jones. This musical homage adds an exciting and nostalgic touch to Oliver's character.
Oliver's Changing Name: In some international dubs of the series, Oliver's name underwent alterations. For example, in the French dub from the third to seventh series, he was called "Olivier." Additionally, in the second Polish dub, narrated by Stefan Knothe, he is referred to as 'Olek,' which is a Polish diminutive for Alexander. These localized changes showcase the global appeal of Thomas & Friends.
Oliver's Voice: Over the years, Oliver has been portrayed with different accents in the English dubs. George Carlin gave him a Brooklyn accent in the US dub of the third series, while Alec Baldwin gave him a British accent in the US dub of the fifth series. Michael Brandon gave him a Southern accent in the US dub of the seventh series, and Joe Mills provided him with a Cornish accent in both the UK and US dubs from the eighteenth to twentieth series. These varied accents added distinct personality traits to Oliver in different iterations.
Brass Model: Unlike most other engines, whose models were made of perspex, Oliver's model was crafted from brass. This unique material choice contributed to his distinctive appearance and made him stand out among the engines.
The Great Railway Show: Oliver, along with all of the Fat Controller's engines, expressed the desire to participate in the Great Railway Show. However, he was among the many engines not chosen. Despite not being selected for the grand event, Oliver continued to shine in his own right on the North Western Railway.
Song of the Troublesome Trucks: The troublesome trucks often teased Oliver, and along with S.C. Ruffey, they composed a humorous song that went like this: "Oliver's no use at all; thinks he's very clever, Says that he can manage us; that's the best joke ever. When he orders us about, with the greatest folly, We just push him down the well...Pop goes old Ollie!" This playful chant perfectly captures the mischievous spirit of the troublesome trucks and their humorous interactions with Oliver.
Gumption and Grit: One of Oliver's memorable quotes comes from his time working in the big yard: "I'm a Great Western engine, I shouldn't have to shiver!" This line showcases Oliver's determination and pride in being a reliable and strong engine, even in challenging circumstances. It highlights his gumption and determination, making him an endearing character to the audience.
Snowman Adventure: After crashing into a children's snowman in the village, Oliver had to spend the night in the snowman's body. Reflecting on this amusing encounter, Oliver cheerfully remarked, "I like the snow!" This quote shows Oliver's ability to find joy in unexpected situations and his positive outlook on life, endearing him to the children and fans alike.
Encouraging Toad: When Toad felt glum about always going backward, Oliver tried to cheer him up by reminding him of his usefulness. He said, "Cheer up, Toad! You know we always stand by our friends!" This quote exemplifies Oliver's caring and supportive nature, proving that he is not only a brave engine but also a loyal and compassionate friend to those around him.