David Mitton (1919-2008)

David Mitton, a Special Effects Technician on Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons, Joe 90, and UFO who went on to write and direct more than 180 episodes of children’s favourite Thomas The Tank Engine And Friends, died on 16th May aged 69.

On leaving the Anderson fold, he worked again with former Century 21 colleagues, setting up Clearwater Films in the early 1980s with Ken Turner, for which they produced Thomas The Tank Engine at Shepperton Studios up until 2003, when the franchise was taken over by HIT Entertainment. As well as his writing and directing duties, Mitton even built the models for the series. The company also made 13 episodes of Tugs, utilising a similar blend of stop-motion animation and live action, which were first broadcast in 1989.

In 2006 he set up a new company, Pineapple Squared Entertainment, in partnership with another former Anderson figure, David Lane. The first Pineapple Squared production, the CGI children’s series Orsum Island, is due to premiere this summer. David Mitton’s Pineapple Squared colleagues Michele Fabian-Jones and David Lane issued a joint statement saying: “David Mitton was one of the greats of children’s TV. His loss is a considerable one personally and professionally. We will miss the laughs. The blow is cushioned only by the knowledge that he goes on through the continued success of Pineapple Squared Entertainment and in particular of Orsum Island, about which he was so passionate.”

His former Century 21 colleague Alan Shubrook posted the following tribute on the website Lastingtribute.co.uk: “My fond memories of David are from the 1960s, when I was fortunate enough to work with him for some years as part of Derek Meddings Special Effects team at Century 21 Studios. Whilst producing the visual effects for Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and UFO, David was always a major force in the creative talent behind these programmes and he never ever turned his back on hard work. He became responsible for most of the pyrotechnics used on over 150 episodes and became an expert in his field. David became a personal friend during the sixties and is now sadly missed by all those colleges who remember his unique talent.”

Originally published in FAB 60.