Hugh Bonneville is set to voice a brand new steam engine called Merlin in the newest Thomas The Tank Engine film ‘Journey Beyond Sodor’ due to be released this summer and Merlin is set to have Autistic traits. This is so children with Autism a ‘sympathetic character that they can relate to! It’s becoming more noticeable how shows aimed at children are slowly beginning to bring in characters with certain aspects to relate to children with disabilities and conditions lately.
I like this, it’s another character on the TV screen that will be shown to children and parents alike and it could be said that Thomas The Tank Engine is just as iconic as Sesame Street is so it’s widely known and has been popular worldwide for decades now. I was always a fan of the show as a child before it changed, I loved Ringo Starr as a narrator but shows have to adapt and change as the years go on!
Of course this character will not cover every aspect of Autism, let’s just say that straight away! Is that even possible? This is aimed at children, try to remember that! It’s so they can watch someone who may perhaps act a little like them, someone who can relate and teach them a lesson every time they appear on the TV, what’s wrong with that? It’s nice that as time goes on, we begin to see certain TV characters popping up with Autistic Traits and it shouldn’t be something to moan about and argue over…we could have nothing at all…something is better than nothing, right?
When Julia first appeared on Sesame Street, most were happy to welcome her but a few were not so much as she did not cover every aspect of Autism or extreme cases and this caused many arguments within the community but it has to be understood that this will probably never happen because these shows are aimed towards children and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea if not done in the right way!
I don’t think you can show every aspect of Autism through a character because someone with Autism doesn’t have every single aspect, we are all unique in our own way and it would probably have to be a show where every single character was Autistic in order to get close to covering it all…even then, you still might miss something.
The show has always been a little bit silly sometimes with it’s train catchphrases etc and it’ll be interesting what role Merlin will end up having but I think it will be an important one…characters who first appear in a movie often are yet it remains to be seen what kind of an impact he will have on children once he makes his very first appearance this summer, I hope he’s well received and not harshly criticized because he doesn’t cover a certain aspect!
We shall have to wait and see!