Series 3

R Healy

Quote of the Series

"Dirty or clean, I'm a famous machine!"
The Trouble With Mud

A Bit About Series 3

Series 3 was where the biggest changes started to set in.  By now, Thomas had been launched in America through Shining Time Station, and predictably done very well.  But at this point in 1991, two major figures were missing from the group.  Clearwater Features had disbanded in 1990, and Robert D. Cardona had immigrated to Canada following the completion of TUGS.  David Mitton took up a salaried role with Britt Allcroft, and continued on with directing and producing Thomas.  Britt replaced Robert Cardona as Co-Producer, while husband, Angus Wright, stepped into her role as Executive Producer. 


The other key figure who had stepped down was classic Storyteller, Ringo Starr, who had chosen to focus upon touring with his All-Star Band.  The result was to split the two sides of the Atlantic down the middle in terms of narration.  The British Storyteller, was to be Michael Angelis, a Liverpudlian like his predecessor, but by no means as well known, despite having appeared in numerous UK TV programmes, such as the Liverbirds and being married (in 1991) to Coronation Street stalwart, Helen Worth.  Taking Ringo's place in Shining Time Station, was to be popular American comedian - George Carlin, who would also re-narrate several Series 1 and 2 episodes  for Shining Time Station, and other VHS releases in the US and Canada.


Another change was to be the development of the series itself.  For the first two series an agreement had been in place which dictated that all material filmed for broadcast had to have appeared in print form first, and while Britt and David had developed storylines for Thomas’s Christmas Party and Thomas & Trevor – both stories were written by Rev. W. Awdry and Christopher before they were broadcast.  Series 3 saw the first 13 episodes written by Britt and David aired alongside existing Awdry material, some of which had been altered for story development.  The Rev. Awdry was not impressed by this change, and it caused things to cool with the Awdry family enormously.

Characters Introduced In Series 3

Oliver The Western Engine
Mavis The Quarry Shunter
Toad The Brake Van
Bulgy The Double-Decker Bus

Songs Of The Series

Thomas, We Love You (UK Title) / Thomas's Anthem (US Title)


Michael Angelis (UK)
George Carlin (US)

Key Production Team

Angus Wright
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton
Mike O'Donnell & Junior Campbell

David Mitton

In 2013, we ran a poll on Series 3 to determine what the best episodes of the Series were as well as what else fans enjoyed about it.  Best characters, episodes and aspects of production are included and broken down in our poll results blog!


Series 3 Episode Guide

The Rev. W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft & David Mitton
Britt Allcroft & David Mitton
3.1 - A Scarf For Percy

During a bitter winter’s day, Percy sees workmen wearing scarves and longs to have one of his own. He gets his wish quite unexpectedly when he crashes into a baggage trolley and ends up with a pair of trousers (the Fat Controller’s!) coiled around his funnel, as well as numerous other items – including sticky jam!  After a scolding from the Fat Controller, Percy returns home to be cleaned, and realises he has firelighters to keep warm, not scarves of any kind!

3.2 - Percy’s Promise

Thomas brings the Vicar’s Sunday School for a day at the beach, and asks Percy to take them home later on.  Percy promises, but later on a heavy storm rages across the island.  A section of the Branch Line floods and Percy is left stranded up to his cab in water!  The Driver, Fireman and Guard do all they can to keep the fire going - even ripping up the floorboards in the brake van!  And eventually, Harold flies overhead and drops a parachute containing hot drinks for the crew and passengers. With a new fire and a refreshed crew, Percy fights his way through the flood and arrives at the station to triumphant cheers. The Fat Controller congratulates Percy too, and comments that despite other things, Harold admits he could never beat Percy at being a submarine.

3.3 - Time For Trouble

The Fat Controller believes Gordon has been working too hard and decides to give him a rest.  James is asked to do his work and becomes very conceited, boasting about his reliability. Meanwhile, Toby is travelling to the Works for repairs, but thanks to a neglectful signalman and a small water tank, Toby is left stranded on the Main Line. James is not pleased when he has to push Toby and pull the Express to the Works Station. Next to arriving late, James is left exasperated when some children reckon that Toby was sent to help James pull the train!

3.4 - Thomas Gets Bumped
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Thomas starts running late after helping some children home when their bus breaks down, and fears of being replaced. His fears increase when hot weather buckles the rails on his branch line, derailing him in the process. With the line temporarily closed for repairs, Thomas is sent to shunt in the yard while Bertie looks after his passengers. Thomas feels he’s lost all his passengers to Bertie, but when his Branch Line is reopened, he realises Bertie was only there to help him, which makes him feel much better.

3.5 - Gordon & The Famous Visitor

A famous engine, City of Truro, arrives in the yard and becomes the centre of attention. Having achieved 100 mph fifty years before, everyone marvels his fame and kindness, while Gordon grows increasingly jealous and criticises him.  He suggests City of Truro is untrustworthy, and warns the other engines “Never trust Domeless Engines! - They aren’t respectable!”

He then decides to break City of Truro’s speed record himself, but a strong wind on the viaduct creeps under his loose dome and sends it flying into the valley below!  Gordon arrives home feeling silly, while a cheeky voice from behind echoes his sentiments from before - “Never trust Domeless Engines! - They aren’t respectable!”

3.6 - Donald’s Duck

As a reward for his hard work in the yard, the Fat Controller gives Duck a Branch Line of his own.  Duck is delighted and talks endlessly about it.  Eventually, Donald becomes gets fed up with Duck’s excitable chatter and remarks that he quacks “as if he laid an egg!

Insulted, Duck tells his driver, and they plan a trick on Donald. The next day, Donald finds a duckling inside his water tank, and realise who was behind the joke! Even so, the small duckling takes a liking to Donald, travelling in his cab on journeys, and even finding herself a home at a pond near the station. However, Donald and his Crew plan their payback on Duck, leaving beneath him a nest box with an egg in it! Duck is almost fooled into thinking that he laid it himself until he catches onto Donald and learns he’s just as clever as he is!

3.7 - Thomas, Percy & The Dragon
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton
Percy teases Thomas about being frightened, remembering the time he pretended to be a ghost to scare Thomas.  But one day, due to jammed points, Percy has to spend the night in a siding.  He’s left all alone, and gets a fright when a huge Dragon rushes pass him - which Thomas has collected from the Harbour for delivery.  The following morning, the other engines don’t believe Percy’s story and tease him.  Percy soon learns the Dragon was only a paper float that Thomas was delivering to the carnival the night before, and both apologise to one another.
3.8 - Diesel Does It Again
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

The Harbour becomes busier than ever, leaving Duck and Percy feeling overworked. The Fat Controller decides to bring another engine to help with the workload, but the only engine available is Diesel. Duck and Percy are appalled and refuse to work with him at first, remembering the trouble he had caused before, until the Fat Controller tells them otherwise!  As much as they try to cooperate with Diesel, he only makes things worse by being reckless and rude.  After Diesel bumps some trucks into the sea, the Fat Controller finally sends him away.

3.9 - Henry’s Forest
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Henry’s favourite place on Sodor is the forest; it’s quiet and peaceful and full of wonderful tall trees. But a big storm damages the forest, forcing many trees to be felled. Henry becomes depressed and the other engines feel sorry for him, but they cheer up when the Fat Controller has new young trees ready for replanting.  Toby, Terence and Trevor work hard helping to rebuild the forest.  Afterwards, Henry feels much better now the forest has been restored.

3.10 - The Trouble With Mud

Gordon comes into the yard covered in mud, but refuses to have a washdown. After covering James in a mud shower, the Fat Controller refuses Gordon to pull the Express. Once he is cleaned, Gordon spends his time pulling trucks, which makes him very grumpy. Later that afternoon, James takes charge of pulling the Express; however, Gordon’s Hill becomes slippery with leaves and James can’t pull the heavy train alone. Passing with a goods train, Gordon comes to help, and together they manage the Express over the hill.  That night, the Fat Controller tells Gordon he can pull coaches again as long as he understands that being clean is important to every engine.

3.11 - No Joke For James
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

James is feeling particularly boastful one day, and fancies the chance to pull coaches as opposed to his scheduled goods train. He tricks Thomas into letting James pull the Express, leaving his trucks for Gordon, which make Gordon, his driver and the Fat Controller very angry.  James is left in the shed for several days and returns to work a sadder, wiser engine. After a busy day shunting trucks at the harbour, James and his Driver are approached by a railway inspector, who has an important meeting with the Fat Controller.  James agrees to take the inspector back to the station.  They arrive on time, and the Fat Controller believes James is a Really Useful Engine again.

3.12 - Thomas, Percy & The Post Train / Thomas, Percy & The Mail Train (US)
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Late at night, Thomas and Percy take it in turns to pull the post train, delivering mail across the Island of Sodor, but Harold thinks he can make a better job of that. One evening, when Percy’s shipment is delayed by the Main Line, the Post Master complains to the Fat Controller, threatening the future of the Mail Trains, especially when Harold claims it would be scrapped, leaving him to make all the deliveries. In spite of this, Thomas and Percy work harder than ever to keep to time, with Thomas even helping a stranded passenger reach home after missing the last train. Grateful, the man puts in a good word to the Fat Controller, and everyone agrees to keep the Mail Train. As for Harold, he soon changes his tune when he finds himself unable to fly due to weather conditions!

3.13 - Trust Thomas
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Bertie becomes angry about large potholes on the road on account of the railway never delivering the tar to mend them. Thomas promises to help Bertie out, but not before falling victim to a cruel joke – James pretends to be ill, leaving Thomas to do his work with the trucks. The trucks, feeling spiteful, push Thomas onto the wrong line, finishing up in a muddy pond.  Edward arrives to help him out, who becomes aware of the missing tar after Thomas mentions it. Edward promises to have the tar delivered straight away. Soon after, James apologises to Thomas for his accident and Bertie comes to thank Thomas for remembering about the tar.

3.14 - Mavis
Mavis is a new Diesel engine working at the quarry.  Thinking she could manage the work alone, she becomes feisty and refuses to listen to Toby’s advice. She soon runs into trouble one frosty day when, while delivering trucks to the station, she becomes stuck on a farm lane thanks to slippery rails, causing a traffic jam. Toby is reluctant to help until he is reminded that Mavis wasn’t supposed to leave the quarry in the first place. So he helps to clear the line, and Mavis finishes her delivery as quickly as she can.
3.15 - Toby’s Tightrope

After a scolding from her Manager, Mavis longs to travel further along Toby’s Line, so she asks the trucks to bump her at the level crossing so she could “slip by”.  However, Toby ends up taking the trucks himself, who bump him anyway.  As Toby fights to slow them down, he realises that melted snow and a raging river have caused a bridge up ahead to collapse. With all his might, Toby stops on the hanging rails, overlooking the fierce waters below. Horrified, Mavis quickly comes to his rescue, and apologises for causing the accident.  She admits her mistake to the Fat Controller and, with Toby guiding her, she is allowed to venture from the quarry a far more respectable and useful engine.

3.16 - Edward, Trevor & The Really Useful Party
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Trevor and the Vicar plan a garden party for charity, but the Vicar neglects putting up posters announcing the event.  Edward offers to help by having the posters pasted on his coaches so his passengers would make note of it.  On the day of the event, Bertie brings people to the party. Full of self-importance, he thinks Trevor is an old stick-in-the-mud, but ends up stuck in the mud himself thanks to a previous rainfall, making the orchard sodden! After Terence and Trevor pull him out, Bertie apologies, and the Vicar thanks Edward for his idea after raising lots of money for charity.

3.17 - Buzz Buzz / James Goes Buzz Buzz (US)
When Duck and BoCo chatter about Bill and Ben, they nickname the twins “The Bees” for all the “buzzing about” they do. James snorts, thinking they’re talking about actual bees, and remarks that he’s not afraid of silly insects. However, at the station, a beehive breaks open and the passengers run for cover while the bees swarm round James’s boiler to keep warm.  One of the bees burns his foot, and, thinking James had burnt him on purpose, stings him right on the nose!  Poor James (now with a red nose) tries everything to get rid of the bees, but after everything else fails they take them to the Vicarage Orchard, where they find new hives to live in. The Vicar is so pleased with James he calls him “the Bees’ Knees!
3.18 - All At Sea
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

During his work at the Harbour, Duck discovers the regatta and wishes that he could sail to far away lands beyond the sea.  Percy tries to convince him out of his desires, until Harold arrives carrying a man from the regatta with an injured man. Duck is asked to take him to meet Bertie to reach the hospital. He does so with ease and speed, and afterward, though he still wonders about the sea, Duck feels happier about being a steam engine.

3.19 - One Good Turn
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Bill and Ben are sent to help shunt at the station yard one day. They work well and find time to have fun with the yard’s turntable. But a misunderstanding ends with the twins stuck face to face, arguing over who was in the way of the other. Edward and BoCo become fed up with their grumbling, and come up with a plan.  With the Fat Controller’s approval, BoCo sets up a heavy goods train for Bill and Ben to take away. As they still refuse to work together, Ben attempts to take the train himself, but it’s too heavy for him.  Realising the situation, Bill decides to help his twin, and they become friends once more.

3.20 - Tender Engines
Gordon grumbles about the constant stops he has to make to fill up on coal and water. One day, he sees a special engine in the yard with two tenders. Gordon reckons he ought to be granted another tender to save his time and pride, until Diesel claims that he doesn’t need tenders to feel important, given the fact that Diesel engines are taking over anyway. Gordon is upset but the Fat Controller makes him feel better, promising that diesels will never overrun Sodor and explaining that the visitor needs two tenders because the Other Railway has hardly any coal or water. Even so, Henry begins to complain for another tender too. So Duck tricks Henry into giving him six tenders, which all turn out to be old, filthy, and full of boiler sludge!
3.21 - Escape!

Douglas takes a Midnight Goods Train to the Other Railway.  There, he discovers a frightened engine called Oliver, escaping from scrap with his brake van, Toad. Douglas and his Crew work through the night to help them escape to Sodor, and succeed. The following morning, the Fat Controller discovers Oliver and Toad at the Works, and acknowledges Douglas’s idea of saving them from scrap.  They are soon refurbished and put to work on Duck’s Branch Line.

3.22 - Oliver Owns Up
When the engines learn about Oliver’s daring escape from scrap, they consider him an engine of infinite resource and sagacity.  Oliver is glad to be working again, but becomes conceited from his praise. When the other engines warn him about working with trucks, he thinks he’s able to manage them with his “sagaciousness”, but looses control over a heavy train and is pushed bunker-first into the turntable well.  Oliver is sent to be mended, and returns home later a wiser engine.
3.23 - Bulgy
During the Bank Holiday, the engines have more passengers to charter. Duck and Oliver’s schedule is disrupted by the arrival of Bulgy, a bad-tempered double-decker bus, who upsets the engines claiming that railways would be ripped up. Bulgy then attempts to steal Duck’s passengers by pretending to be a “Railway Bus” and succeeds.  However, after getting stuck under a low bridge, the passengers realise Bulgy was lying so they wouldn’t ride the trains.  Duck arrives on scene to take the “stolen” passengers home, and following the bridges’ repairs, Bulgy is turned into a henhouse.
3.24 - Heroes
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Bill and Ben are feeling restless, and long for some excitement. They get their chance when the Fat Controller sends them to help at the yard again, but cause great confusion after they let the Troublesome Trucks tell them where to put things. Next day, the twins are sent back to the quarry, where they go about their regular work. Suddenly, a huge rockslide forms high above the quarry, and the twins act quickly to get the workmen out of harm’s way.  The quarry is completely destroyed, but everyone is safe thanks to Bill and Ben.  The Fat Controller considers them true heroes for acting brave in an emergency – and the twins agree that the rockslide was more than enough excitement for them!

3.25 - Percy, James & The Fruitful Day
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

It’s “Market Day”, a time when many fruits are shipped into the Harbour.  James has the privilege of delivering a train of fruit to the market, but goes no further when his brakes jam.  Percy arrives to take over, but he ends up in a “jam” of his own when he is diverted into a siding by mistake and smashes into his trucks, covering himself in squashed fruit. James and Percy return home feeling sorry for themselves, but learn nevertheless that they still helped each other out of their “jams”, and believe they’re still Really Useful Engines.

3.26 - Thomas & Percy’s Christmas Adventure / Thomas & Percy’s Mountain Adventure (US)
Written by Britt Allcroft & David Mitton

Christmas is approaching, and Thomas is excited to be delivering letters and parcels to his friends in the Mountain Villages.  However, he is sad to be pulled out of deliveries to do another job - leaving Percy to pull all the Post trucks himself.  However, Percy soon learns that the village is cut off by deep snow, and the villagers need help.  He hurries back to the airfield to rouse Harold, and soon finds Thomas and Terence on their way with a gang of workmen to help save the day.  Toby and Harold do their bit too by delivering hot drinks and provisions for everyone, and the villagers are very grateful.

That night, they decide to repay the engines by decorating Tidmouth Sheds from top to bottom just in time for Christmas, and give the engines a very special surprise when they wake the next morning!


NB - The US version of this episode centred around a Thanksgiving scenario, meaning a chunk of the episode relating to Christmas was cut and the narrative was changed from the UK-based broadcast.