Talented character actress Linda Ballantyne was the voice behind Percy in the Thomas and the Magic Railroad movie. Linda recently answered a few questions posed by SiF's Christopher Sherburn about her work on the film. Thank you, Linda, for sharing your memories with us! :)
In her reply to Christopher Sherburn on 19th May, 2007

How did you first hear about the production?
I first heard about the project through another actor Tony Daniels. I had only just begun voicing for animation and Tony recommended me to the director. They seemed to be having a difficult time finding the right person for the role of Percy and Tony threw my name in the hat. I auditioned and was told I had the part… but had to go in and meet the writer in person first for the final OK.
When I went into the production offices I figured I’d be doing the audition again but as it turned out I was introduced to Britt Allcroft herself! She just wanted to say ‘hi and welcome on board’. She asked if I had any questions and I said, “Are you OK with my British accent?” That was all I had. Pathetic. She said she thought I was perfect for the part and not to worry. The meeting took all of about 2 minutes.

Were you familiar with the Thomas the Tank Engine series beforehand?
The day I was told I’d be voicing the role of Percy in Thomas and the Magic Railroad my niece was born. I ran out to the store and bought a wooden Percy train and b-lined it to the hospital to meet the newest member of the family. When I arrived, I mentioned casually (or as causally as I possibly could being as excited as I was) to my nephew Brian that I’d be voicing his favourite character. Brian looked up and me and said “I don’t think so, Aunt Linda. Percy’s a boy”. Brian ended up being my best source of information… and my greatest critic. You gotta love family!

Was it fun to provide the voice for one of the most popular characters in the series?

Linda Ballantyne voiced Percy in TATMR

Percy was actually a very small part in the film. I completed the whole voice session in about 1 hour (if even) and I was by myself in the studio. It’s more fun to record a voice session with all the characters there, but in the interest of time often they’ll record them separately.
But I did like the character of Percy. He’s so sweet and wants to help out so much. I particularly loved when he was scared and trying to be brave, “I am brave. I am brave… oh, it’s not easy being brave”.

Was there any additional dialogue you recorded for Percy, that was deleted from the final cut of the film?
I may have had some other lines that didn’t make it into the film… but I really can’t remember now. It was a few years ago. I think there was one scene that was cut out but I’m really not very sure.

On one final note, I’d like to say that I quite liked your portrayal of Percy. Very ‘boyish’ sounding, and you did quite well giving him a British accent.
It was a while ago and I’ve done many, many cartoons since so it starts to get a bit muddy. I do remember going to see the film and being horrified when I first heard Percy speak because I thought I’d been replaced. As the film went on I realized it was in fact me but the heart palpitations continued for the next few hours.
Good luck with your endeavors and let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help. I may even have my original script still… but I’d have to dig to find it if it’s still hanging around.
Linda Ballantyne