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'Thomas and Friends' introduces Bruno the Brake Car, its first character with autism


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Amna Nawaz: In recent decades, producers of movies, TV series and other forms of art have been trying not only to reach out to new audiences, but to make sure new audiences are represented in their stories.

As Nicole Ellis reveals, one popular children's animated series recently added a new character.

Elliott Garcia, Actor: Yes.

Person: Do you want try that again? Give me a brake.

Elliott Garcia: Yes.

Give me a brake. Get it?

Give me a brake. Get it?

Nicole Ellis: Thomas the Tank Engine has been capturing the imagination of millions of people for decades.

Elliott Garcia: Bruno is a brake car, and he. And he is — and he's a new friend for Thomas and his friends. And he's also autistic, like me.

Nicole Ellis: For British audiences, Bruno the Brake Car is voiced by 9-year-old Elliott Garcia.

Actor: Julia?

Actor: Sometimes it takes Julia a while to answer.

Nicole Ellis: Like other kids shows, including "Sesame Street," producers are introducing new characters to better reflect the differences among children across society, in this case, Bruno the Brake Car.

Actor: Oh, Percy, where are you. Oh, Bruno, hi.

Elliott Garcia: Why aren't you at your celebration, Thomas? It's scheduled for now.

Well, he is funny, smart, and he's a very relaxed character. He can get really overwhelmed. He can get worried.

Actor: I have lost Percy. I thought he might be here.

Elliott Garcia: He's not here, Thomas. What was your last stop?

Actor: What do you mean?

Elliott Garcia: It's good to remember every stop you have made. Then, if you lose something, you know exactly where to look for it.

He loves schedules and timetables, and when everything goes to plan and when there is no changes to the schedule and timetable.

Tom Purser, National Autistic Society, United Kingdom: It's a real moment, I think, for autism, because the history of autistic children and their relationship with Thomas and Thomas and friends has been massive.

Nicole Ellis: Tom Purser is head of guidance, volunteering and campaigns at the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom.

Tom Purser: What Elliott brings to this role is his joy and enthusiasm, his autistic experiences, and just brings the character to life.

Elliott Garcia: Diesel is a shunter. He's not a steamroller.

It's greater that they are representing autistic characters, and it makes me feel very happy of that they — of that — now there isn't — because I watched "Thomas and Friends," and for there to be an autistic character, it makes me feel very happy and very — and the very excited.

Actor: Thank you. And, Bruno, you go with Diesel.

Actor: Huh?

Actor: As a brake car, you will keep him safe from the silly risks he seems to enjoy taking.

Nicole Ellis: For American and Canadian audiences, Bruno the Brake Car will be voiced by 10-year-old autistic actor Chuck Smith from Toronto.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nicole Ellis.

Amna Nawaz: That is terrific. Can't wait to watch that one with my girls.

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