‘The Waltons’: Richard Thomas Talks Taking Over as Narrator

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Five decades after its premiere, The Waltons Holiday film is getting a remake. And Richard Thomas is taking over as the famous narrator.

In 1971, CBS aired The Homecoming: A Christmas Story—the movie that first introduced The Waltons. In the wholesome made-for-TV story, The iconic Walton family prepares for Christmas amid the hardships of the Great Depression while patriarch John is away for work. But as Christmas morning nears, John does not return home. And it’s up to his wife, Olivia, and eldest son, John Boy, to keep the children from worrying.

Because The Homecoming: A Christmas Story was such a hit, The Waltons became a prime-time drama that ran from 1972-1981.

This year’s The Waltons’ Homecoming is a reimagination of the 1971 flick that follows an almost identical story. The one difference is the legendary characters are played by fresh faces. The only original cast member starring in the remake is Richard Thomas. But Thomas won’t be reprising his role as John Boy. Instead, he’s taking over as the narrator for Earl Hamner.

“I do like the idea of the two shows ‘holding hands’ across 50 years,” Thomas told TV Insider.

Hamner, who based The Waltons off of his own childhood, passed away in 2016 in Los Angeles. The writer was 92. Earl Hamner left behind an undeniable legacy that Richard Thomas is honored to be a part of.

Thomas admitted that he wanted to speak the “beautiful” words as the narrator when the series first debuted. And he was a bit disappointed when he was passed over for the spot.

But he further stated that “Earl’s voice was inimitable and set the perfect tone” all those years ago. So he’s proud to take Earl Hamner’s place for the newest rendition of the classic film.

‘The Waltons’ Holiday Remake Follows John Boy’s Journey to Adulthood

Thomas assures his fans that John Walton will make it home to his loving family by Christmas morning. And noted that the story isn’t about his journey back to his home in the Virginia mountains. It’s about John Boy’s journey to adulthood and The Walton’s show of love and resilience.

“At the heart of the story is a young man trying to learn how to be a man,” he continued. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to have a show about people who are struggling and yet try to find a way through, where love is actually the most important factor.”

Watch the original 1971 movie, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, on Thursday, November 25, at 3/2c on INSP. Then catch The Waltons’ Homecoming on Sunday, November 28, 8/7c on The CW.