Oxford is ‘twinned’ with Island of Sodor from Thomas & Friends as it’s named UK’s Friendliest City

Oxford is to be ‘twinned’ with the Island of Sodor – the home of Thomas the Tank Engine – having been recognised as the UK’s friendliest city when it topped the newly created Thomas & Friends Friendship Index earlier this month.

Launched to mark International Friendship Day today (July 30th), the Thomas & Friends Friendship Index is the culmination of an in-depth study of 3,000 adults across the nations, to rank towns and cities according to the friendliness of their residents.

The study asked questions around kindness, encouragement, and looking after others. Wrexham was narrowly pipped to the top spot by the Oxfordshire city, while Aberdeen and Gloucester also scored highly to take the third and fourth positions.

Having taken the first place on the Index, Oxford will now house a new sign post, twinning the city with the Island of Sodor – a pivotal setting for the stories about Thomas the Tank Engine, all of which are rooted in friendship and teamwork over the past 75 years.

The twinning sign was unveiled during a special ceremony held at Oxford train station attended by Sir Topham Hatt from the show, and Councillor Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford.

To help it land the top spot, Oxford scored consistently high across all categories including most likely place for a friend to put in a good word to get you a job and giving others advice. Findings also show that Aberystwyth and Wrexham are home to those who will go out of their way for others, with locals scoring highest for such behaviour.

North Wales was also the place to be if you’re looking for a compliment, with 55 per cent frequently handing out praise.

Residents of Belfast were most committed to travelling the furthest to helping a friend in need, willing to travel over 61 miles to help with a flat tyre – eight miles further than the average. While the Friendship Index also revealed those from Aberdeen are the most likely to step in to help their friends avoid an embarrassing situation.

Claudia Caron, UK marketing manager for Thomas & Friends, said: “The gift of friendship is truly wonderful and something we have proudly celebrated in Thomas & Friends for over 75 years, so we would like to offer a huge congratulations to Oxford for being the friendliest city in our very first Thomas & Friends Friendship Index.

“We are delighted to officially twin the city with the Island of Sodor, home of Thomas the Tank engine, in recognition of its incredible friendly status.” 

The Friendship Index research has been carried out globally and has today also named friendliest cities of Australia (Sydney), New Zealand (Auckland), Italy (Naples), Greece (Irakleion), Turkey (Izmir) and Poland (Kielce). Oxford joins these six other friendliest places to have topped the Thomas & Friends Friendship Index from around the world, to be given the honour of being twinned with the Island of Sodor. 

 Councillor Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford, said: “It’s great news that Oxford has been voted the friendliest city in the UK and I want to thank Thomas & Friends for confirming something that I think our residents have known for a long time.

“Oxford is made up from many diverse communities all of which have benefitted from and added to the city’s long traditions of friendliness and inclusivity, which have proved so important, especially over the last 18 months. Indeed, Oxford has friends all over the world and we are proud of our international links, including twinning with Bonn, Grenoble, Leiden, Padua, Wroclaw, Perm, León, and Ramallah.

“Now, as we come out of lockdown, I want to encourage visitors to come and visit our vibrant, friendly city and experience all that it has to offer. A warm welcome awaits you.”


1. Oxford – 21.8

2. Wrexham – 21.5

3. Gloucester – 20.8

4. Aberdeen – 20.7

5. Worcester – 20.5

6. Aberystwyth – 20.4

7. Portsmouth – 19.7

8. London – 18.8

9. Coventry – 18.5

10. Swansea – 18.3

11. Brighton and Hove – 17.9

12. Edinburgh – 17.2

13. Belfast – 16.7

14. Manchester – 16.6

15. Wolverhampton – 16.5

16. Cardiff – 16.3

17. Southampton – 15.9

18. Sheffield – 15.9

19. Plymouth – 15.8

20. Bristol – 15.5

Thomas & Friends goes 2D animated as new seasons given the green light by Mattel

Mattel has given the green light to a series of 104 new 11 minute episodes and two hour-long specials for the Thomas & Friends television series over two new seasons. The latest update for the popular children’s series follows news released last week that a Thomas & Friends feature length film was now in development.

To produce the two new seasons of the hit pre-school series, Mattel has partnered with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studios, an international producer and distributor of children’s animated and live-action content. The new seasons, starting with Season 25, will premiere next autumn.

The firm has hinted at ‘a creative new approach to the show,’ which promises to ‘contemporise the series for today’s families.’

The series will be animated in 2D, for a start, and will build upon creative elements that have resonated with Thomas & Friends fans over the year by featuring comedic, playful stories and lessons told from Thomas’ point of view. Nelvana will help to bring the new 2D look to life, expanding on Mattel’s existing relationship with Corus Entertainment.

“Thomas & Friends’ enduring legacy and focus on the importance on friendship continue to resonate with global audiences, and we look forward to unveiling our new content to consumers next year,” said Fred Soulie, senior vice president and general manager, Mattel Television.

“Nelvana is the ideal production partner for the series, understanding the importance of staying true to Thomas’ ethos and heritage while bringing the franchise to life creatively in new ways for today’s kids.”

Pam Westman, president, Nelvana, added: “As the exclusive broadcast partner and licensing agent of the treasured Thomas brand in Canada, we are delighted to deepen our relationship with Mattel by becoming their production partner on the re-imagined 2D series, which will introduce Thomas to a new generation of young audiences.

“With stunning animation and fresh new stories, the 2D series allows us to play up the humor in the show while honoring the legacy of the world’s most-adored blue tank engine.”

Executive producers for Season 25 of Thomas & Friends include Fred Soulie, Adam Bonnett and Christopher Keenan at Mattel, as well as Colin Bohm and Pam Westman at Nelvana.

Thomas was first created in 1945 by Rev. W. Awdry in stories for his son, Christopher. Today, the character is just as beloved by children as he was when he first chugged down the tracks. Thomas’ stories are currently told through the television series, toys, books, apps, live events and more.