This photo provided by Mattel, Inc. shows the new Steam Team appearing in the 2018 series of "Thomas and Friends: Big World! Big Adventures!" Picture: AP

Bobby van Jaarsveld, South African pop music superstar recording artist, will sing the local version of the theme song in the exciting new CG-animated children’s movie Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie, officially launching in South African Ster Kinekor movie theatres on October 5, 2018.

The Big World Adventures theme song shares the message that we should be open to exploration; to traversing the globe, seeking out adventures, engaging with new and different people, and making new friends along the way.

Says van Jaarsveld: “This film resonates with me partly because my own friends are such a big part of my life. I feel much the same way as Thomas does about friendship: for me, the true meaning of friendship is acceptance.”

But this isn’t the only connection that Bobby feels with Thomas. He says: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve grown up with Thomas. Now, as a dad of three children (a 2 year old daughter and two sons aged 5 and 6) I’m going to be the hero of the house just for taking them to see the movie. Once they realise I’m singing in it, we’ll be watching it the entire year.”

The 80-minute movie is the 13th feature-length film in the Thomas & Friends stable and is considered to be the brand’s biggest, boldest and most relevant release to date. It has an exciting plotline full of twists and turns, and seven new musical pieces that are bound to delight pre-schoolers and their parents.

“This film resonates with me partly because my own friends are such a big part of my life," says van Jaarsveld. Picture: Supplied

In line with its quest to resonate strongly with the next generation, the movie introduces a diverse group of new friends – including Nia, an African tank engine from Kenya – and takes them on an epic global journey.

Voiced by Yvonne Grundy, a rising star of Kenyan descent, Nia is smart, fun and playful, with a strong moral compass. Her name, pronounced Nee-Yah, means ‘purpose’ in Swahili; her engine design is based on the East African Railway’s ED1 class; and her exterior is inspired by iconic African textiles.

Another new character, Ace, is voiced by Australian singer and entertainer Peter Andre, who says: “It’s incredible for me to help introduce young viewers to the range of cultures, ways of life and animals that exists on our planet. We have access to more countries than we did when Thomas started 73 years ago…so it’s nice to see that the whole world is part of this movie.”

Despite his 13 years in SA's music industry, this is van Jaarsveld's first collaboration of this nature. He adds: “It’s a dream come true. I chose to be part of this particular film because its morals and family values appealed so much to me.”

Fans will be able to download the song for free from Bobby’s official website: www.bobbyvanjaarsveld.com