‘Thomas & Friends’ Franchise Introduces First Autistic Character: Bruno The Brake Car

·2 min read

The beloved Thomas & Friends cartoon franchise will introduce its first autistic character this month when Bruno the Brake Car makes his debut on Cartoon Network’s Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go.

Voiced by autistic actor Chuck Smith, Bruno premieres as a new series regular on Monday, September 12. The episode airs at 8:30 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network’s Cartoonito in the U.S. In Canada the episode will air on September 17 at 8:50 a.m. ET/PT on Treehouse and STACKTV.

More from Deadline

The new character was announced by Mattel Television, which developed Bruno in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Easterseals Southern California, as well as writers and spokespeople with autism including Daniel Share-Strom and Aaron Likens.

Mattel describes Bruno as “a joyful, pun-making brake car” who “is great at his job and keeps big, heavy cargo steady with his strong brakes—a vital role in Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go. Bruno rolls in reverse at the end of the train, which gives him a unique perspective on the world.”

“Through his on-screen presence, Bruno’s rich friendships and important work introduces audiences to a positive, neurodivergent role model,” the company said in a statement. “Together with key partners, Mattel carefully curated Bruno’s character to ensure an accurate fictional representation of an autistic child in the real world.”

Zoe Gross, Director of Advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, said, “The most important aspect of Bruno’s development was getting autistic input throughout the process of creating the character and his interactions with his world…Autistic people have been involved in all aspects of creating Bruno, from us as consultants to writers on the show and Bruno’s voice actor – this makes Bruno ring true as an autistic character.”

Bruno’s introduction will span across all content with appearances in a YouTube series, music album, the Thomas & Friends Storytime podcast, the upcoming Mystery of Lookout Mountain special, and consumer products set to debut later this year.

“Bruno’s introduction organically embraces a global audience that is underrepresented and deserves to be celebrated in children’s programming,” said Christopher Keenan, Senior Vice President & Executive Producer, Global Content Development and Production at Mattel. “So much care and thought went into the development of his character, and we can’t wait for audiences to meet and love Bruno as much as we do.”

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go is co-produced by Mattel and Nelvana, and is executive produced by Christopher Keenan and Fred Soulie for Mattel and by Colin Bohm, Doug Murphy, and Pam Westman for Nelvana.

The Thomas & Friends animated franchise began as a British children’s television series that aired from 1984 to 2021. Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go premiered in the U.S. on September 13, 2021.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.