'Thomas the Tank Engine' Narrator Michael Angelis Dead at 76

Michael Angelis, the Liverpool-born actor who replaced Ringo Starr as the narrator for Thomas the Tank Engine, died suddenly on Saturday, his agent told the BBC News. He was 76. Angelis was a classically-trained actor who also appeared in the critically acclaimed 1982 BBC crime series Boys from the Blackstuff.

Angelis was best-known internationally for narrating Thomas and Friends from 1991 until 2012 and was featured on the U.K. version. The children's series launched in the U.K. in 1984 with the former Beatle Starr narrating until 1990. Angelis replaced Starr in 1991 and kept the role for more than two decades. Other narrators for the beloved series, which is still in production, include George Carlin, Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan and Michael Brandon. The U.S. version is now narrated by Joseph May, while John Hasler narrates the U.K. version.

Angelis attended the College of Dramatic Art at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He began appearing in television during the early 1970s, with roles on Coronation Street, Z-Cars and The Liver Birds. In 1982, he was cast as Christopher "Chrissie" Todd on Boys from the Blackstuff, a six-episode crime drama based on a 1980 television play called The Black Stuff. After that, he starred in The Professionals, Bergerac, Bread and The Russ Abbot Show. In 1991, he was starred in the miniseries G.B.H., which co-starred Michael Palin.

Angelis' other television credits include Wail of the Banshee, Luv, Between the Lines, Boon, Common as Muck, A Touch of Frost, Midsomer Murders, The Bill and Good Cop. He also appeared in a handful of films, including A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, George and Mildred and No Surrender. He narrated the Thomas movies Hero of the Rails, Misty Island Rescue and Day of the Diesels. He also voiced characters for three Thomas video games.

The actor was married to Coronation Street actress Helen Worth from 1991 to 2001. He married Welsh model Jennifer Khalastchi in 2001. His brother was the late Paul Angelis, who died in 2009 at age 66. After news broke of his death, Angelis' fans and colleagues mourned their loss. "Ringo Starr may have started it, but Michael Angelis was the show. There's a reason he was the narrator for over 20 years. He was just that good," one fan tweeted. Comedian Matt Lucas called Angelis "one of the greatest TV actors I've ever seen," adding, "What a loss."