Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia

Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (14 April 1904 - 21 May 2000) was an English actor, director and producer, who narrated the first twelve books of The Railway Series on "The Noel Edmonds Show" for BBC Radio 1. He is best known for his Academy Award winning role of Hobson from the 1981 comedy movie Arthur, starring Dudley Moore.


A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. He was known for his beautiful speaking of verse and particularly for his warm and expressive voice, which his colleague Sir Alec Guinness likened to "a silver trumpet muffled in silk". Gielgud is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award. He narrated books one to twelve of the Railway Series for The Noel Edmonds Show on BBC Radio 1. Part of his narrations were also used for Nicholas Jones' The Thomas the Tank Engine Man Documentary playing over the artwork.

He died on 21 May 2000, aged 96 due to respiratory infection and was cremated at Oxford Crematorium.



  • John's radio recordings were not released to the public on CD or cassette format after their original airing, but were repeated on digital radio around 2000. Currently, his recordings are only available for public hearing in the British Library of London.
    • In 2020, 26 of his recordings surfaced online.
  • John improvised the first name “Derek” for Sir Topham Hatt I, the only Fat Controller whose first name was never revealed.