Driver Dan's Story Train is a children's CGI-animated story series created and designed by Rebecca Elgar. It is currently being shown by PBS Kids Sprout, ABC2 and CBeebies. It is produced by Twofour54 and 3linemedia Its first series was launched on CBeebies in January 2010.
The characters are all plush toys. Each character, or pair of characters (except for Driver Dan and Twinkle) has their own train carriage which can be hitched to the Story Train. The audience (sometimes seen as several children, but usually represented by the camera's viewpoint and a child's voice) are sometimes asked for their opinion or choice on matters arising.
In each episode, some real children sit on a scatter of cushions. This scene disappears as a book opens, showing a pop-up model of a railway train with an engine and two carriages: steam locomotive, stores, a flatbed carrying story books. This is the Story Train. It quickly changes into a solid train, which drives about, picking up other characters from the list below and having various adventures; it can steer and does not run on tracks.
The Story Train usually passes a character (or a pair or set of characters) without interacting, and later meets and interacts with other characters.
The first time that the Story Train meets a character that it will interact with, the camera shows only part of the character, and the audience is asked to guess which character it is.
Those characters then get into their vehicles, which the train then hitches on (always three of those vehicles) and tows them to Story Corner.
At Story Corner, Twinkle flies ahead and lands on a huge book and pulls at a bookmark in it. The book opens, showing blank pages; a scatter of cushions falls out of the book onto the floor. The Story Train stops and its passengers get out and sit on the cushions or stand about. Driver Dan reads a story from a book, usually a book from the book flatbed, and says "Now show me the story." The real children then reappear and act out bits of the story, then disappear. The train then sets off again, shrinks to its original 3 vehicles, and quickly becomes a flat model and folds away and disappears. The real children reappear and walk offstage. Each episode lasts about ten minutes.
The majority of the characters talk in English (or the language the series is dubbed in), but some (marked in [square brackets]) only make a characteristic noise, which other characters can interpret as speech. The Driver Dan website won the 2012 Prix jeunesse 'up to 6 years' interactivity award. It was created by Plug In Media with animation by A Productions Ltd. The season two special episode recently won the 2013 Kidscreen award in New York,having previously been nominated in 2012 for the pre school category.
|Driver Dan||A lion that drives the train: has a tool (multipurpose and somewhat like Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver) that lets him repair any malfunctioning vehicles.||Peter Serafinowicz in the UK and Train frontman Patrick Monahan in the U.S.|
|Twinkle||A red flying bird that usually rides on the engine's funnel, or flies ahead as a spotter. It is usually [twittering], and occasionally is found crowing.|
|Counting Sheep||5 cubical bricks with pictures of sheep on, and on the upper surface a pattern of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 dots in order of descending brick size. They can move and jump about, and stack themselves. [Bleating]||Maria Darling|
|Hip (male) & Hop (female)||Two rabbits; Hip is mostly brown with some white and wears a blue backpack, Hop has the same pattern but with the colors exchanged and mirror-imaged and wears a red backpack.||Alex Kelly and Maria Darling|
|Milly and Lily||Two slender paper cutout birds who are somewhat like flamingos.||Maria Darling & Alex Kelly|
|Loopy||A stegosaurus who wears glasses and is fond of jumping; his trampoline has wheels and folds to become his carriage.||Maria Darling|
|Precious||A one-humped camel with a decorated harness.||Alex Kelly|
|Sweetie||A giant panda who is fond of nature and is quiet.||Alex Kelly|
|Tallulah||An elephant who is always on a wheeled carriage, which is hitched directly to the Story Train.||Maria Darling|
|The Vrooms (Red Vroom & Green Vroom)||Two egg-shaped vehicles, each with a bumper all round and one big wheel and two small wheels. They each have a detachable helicopter rotor to fly with. One episode (33. Puddle Muddle) shows each of them with a detachable bulldozer blade. One episode shows one of them with a detachable backhoe to dig a hole for a pond. They have a two-level carriage for themselves and their accessories. At least sometimes, their carriage has a crane to fit and remove their detachable accessories.||[Vocal engine noises by David Yapp and Mark Taylor, and motor horn noises]|