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TRIVIA COMPILED BY
R Healy

Quote Of The Series

“Oh..hello, everyone! What's the occasion?”

 

Paxton
'The Missing Christmas Decorations'

Series 17 marked a new beginning for Thomas & Friends with a new production team taking full-effect on the HIT Entertainment side, and a new animation company – Arc Productions, taking over from Nitrogen Studios.  Andrew Brenner and Ian McCue were keen to take the series back to its roots of strong storytelling, abandoning the formulaic writing structure that had been in place under the previous team, and to add some elements of railway realism into the series – hence the appointment of Sam Wilkinson, the Railway Consultant for the TV Series.

 

Andrew has stated that he wants the series to return to being stories of a working railway, similar to the original concept that the Rev. Awdry held so dear.  The series was seen as a big improvement in terms of writing quality – with more humour, creative freedom and realism thrown in and being somewhat reminiscent of the classic episodes. A selection of five episodes were released exclusively at Wal*Mart on the Railway Mischief DVD, and were positively received by fans, who applauded the improved writing quality and the return of familiar names who had worked on the series previously such as Paul Larson and Lee Pressman.  Ten episodes of Series 17 then aired on Channel 5 in the UK and were met with similar acclaim.

 

Series 17 marks the first time a new Storyteller has performed for both the UK and US broadcasts of the television episodes since Ringo Starr, with Liverpool actor, Mark Moraghan, taking up the reigns and following on from Michael Angelis and Michael Brandon.

STEAM ENGINES

Stephen the 'Rocket' Engine
Millie the Narrow Gauge Estate Engine
Caitlin the Pink Streamlined Engine
Connor the Blue Streamlined Engine
Porter the Dockside Tank Engine
 
DIESEL ENGINES
Norman the Red Diesel
Sidney the Forgetful Diesel
 
NON-LOCOMOTIVE CHARACTERS
N/A

Songs of the Series

Hey Hey Thomas!

On A Journey Today

Voice Cast

STORYTELLER

MARK MORAGHAN

 

VOICE ARTISTS

DAVID BEDELLA

JONATHAN FORBES

TERESA GALLAGHER

BOB GOLDING

MIKE GRADY

TOGO IGAWA

STEVEN KYNMAN

MICHAEL LEGGE

REBECCA O’MARA

MIRANDA RAISON

KERRY SHALE

BEN SMALL

KEITH WICKHAM

MATT WILKINSON

 

VOICE ARTISTS (USA ONLY)

WILLIAM HOPE

JULES DE JONG

MARTIN T. SHERMAN

GLENN WRAGE

Key Production Team

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Marion Edwards

 

EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE OF PRODUCTION

Karen Barnes

 

PRODUCERS

(HIT Entertainment)

Ian McCue

Halim Jabbour

 

PRODUCER

(ARC Productions)

Robert Anderson

 

MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS

Robert Hartshorne

 

VOICE DIRECTOR

Sharon Miller

 

RAILWAY CONSULTANT

Sam Wilkinson


DIRECTOR

David Baas

In 2014, we ran a poll on Series 17 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!

Related Videos

More clips coming soon!

Related Links

Thomas & Friends On Demand

 

HEAD WRITER
Andrew Brenner

17.1 - Kevin's Cranky Friend

Written by Lee Pressman

Brendam Docks is extremely busy one day, which leaves Cranky overworked - cargo piles up on the quayside and engines are kept waiting. When Thomas arrives late at the Big Station, he explains why to the Fat Controller, who goes to investigate. Appalled by the mess and delays, the Fat Controller decides to find another crane to give Cranky some help. Cranky argues that he doesn't need help, but the Fat Controller is adamant and asks Victor if he could borrow Kevin from the Steamworks to help out for the day.

         

Thomas takes Kevin to the Docks where Kevin eagerly introduces himself to Cranky. But Cranky still refuses to accept help from a "funny little crane!" He just orders Kevin to stay in a corner out of his way. Salty is quick to comfort Kevin, assuring him that he'll get used to his "cranky ways".

 

In his haste to clear through the extra workload, Cranky becomes careless and drops a load of pipes across the quayside. Kevin rushes over and quickly arranges the spilt pipes into a neat pile. But instead of being grateful, Cranky is ruder than ever, blaming Kevin for the mess - "watching me all the time, making me nervous!" - before ordering him back to the corner of the quayside.

 

Almost immediately, Cranky upsets a crate of chickens, which scatter across the dock in mass panic. Once again, Kevin rushes over to help the dock workers round up the escaped chickens. Salty praises Kevin, but Cranky is less than pleased with Kevin sticking his hook in where it's not wanted. He orders Kevin back to his corner and to stay firmly out of his way.

 

Kevin is crestfallen; he feels that Cranky doesn't like him. But Thomas and Salty assure him that Cranky has some good in him beneath his gruff exterior.

 

Then there's trouble again - Cranky knocks over a barrel, which rolls towards the edge of the quayside. For a moment, Kevin hesitates whether he should help or not. But at the last moment he rushes over and saves the barrel - only to fall into the sea himself. Cranky grumpily fishes Kevin out before he starts to sink.

 

When the Fat Controller arrives and sees Kevin draped with seaweed, he is very cross - feeling that Kevin is being no help at all, he's about ready to send him back to the Steamworks in disgrace. At that moment, riddled with mild guilt, Cranky speaks up, admitting it had been his fault. He goes on to say that, although a little reckless, Kevin is still a hard worker and Really Useful, much to Kevin's amazement. Satisfied to see them getting along, the Fat Controller changes his mind and allows Kevin and Cranky to carry on as usual.

 

Kevin thanks Cranky for sticking up for him, and even Cranky finally admits that "two hooks are better than one". Kevin gaily returns to work as Thomas and Salty look on happily. And while Cranky admits that Kevin is doing a good job…he wishes that he wouldn't do it so cheerfully!

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.2 - Scruff's Makeover 

Written by Lee Pressman

When Scruff is sent to collect some rubbish trucks from Tidmouth Sheds, Gordon, Henry and James snootily remark of how dirty he looks. Scruff doesn't mind; he's happy the way he is.

 

On his way back to the dump, Scruff stops at the Big Station to say "Good Morning" to the Fat Controller. But the Fat Controller is applied at the state the small engine is in; covered in soot, grime and rust. He orders Scruff to deliver his trucks and then head to the Steamworks to be washed and repainted.

 

Scruff miserably does as he's told. Arriving at the Steamworks, Victor and Kevin make him feel welcome as he is sanded down, patched up, scraped, painted and polished thoroughly. When the work is done, Scruff just wants to get back to work at the Waste Dump. Outside the Steamworks, however, he catches sight of his reflection in a mirror - and is amazed by how wonderful he looks.

 

On his way back to the dump, he passes Gordon, Henry and James again. This time, the big engines all compliment his new look, which goes to Scruff's smokebox.

 

Back at the Waste Dump, Whiff is pleased to have Scruff back as he needs help with shunting the rubbish trucks. However, Scruff has second thoughts: he's more concerned now of getting his gleaming new paintwork dirty, and decides to find a different job.

 

Traveling across Sodor, Scruff comes across Thomas, Percy and Gordon, and asks politely if he could do their jobs for the day - taking Annie and Clarabel, pulling the Mail and the Express, he reckons, would keep his paintwork shiny and clean. But each engine in turn refuses to give up their job, reminding Scruff that he has his own work at the Waste Dump.  Gordon's advice proves to be the more effective - "If you don't do your job, then you're not a Really Useful Engine anymore."

 

Realising that Gordon is right, Scruff heads back to the Waste Dump. He finds Whiff already overworked, and decides to take extra care to not get dirty. But suddenly, a crane drops a load of rubbish onto Scruff, dirtying him up all over again. Only Scruff doesn't mind; getting dirty is part of the job, and eagerly sets to work helping out Whiff again.  At the end of the day, when the Waste Dump is neatly organised once again, Scruff decides it's better to be a Really Useful engine than a clean one any day.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.3 - Wayward Winston

Written by Lee Pressman

One day, whilst taking the Fat Controller and his family for an outing at Ulfstead Castle, Thomas comes across a very bumpy section on the Main Line. The Fat Controller decides that the damaged track must be mended immediately.

 

Soon, workmen are sent to mend the bumpy track. The Fat Controller arrives every day onboard Winston, his Inspection Car, to oversee the repairs. But the Fat Controller still hasn't learnt how to drive Winston properly, jerking along in fits and starts - what's more, Winston is forever reminding him to apply his handbrake. Although Winston tries to be patient, some of the big engines still tease him about it.

 

One day, Percy comes across Winston during the track repairs, and notices him looking very sad. Winston has finally tired of the Fat Controller's bad driving, and longs to go without a Driver for a change. Percy laughs and reminds Winston how important it is for every engine to have a Driver.

 

The Fat Controller and Winston journey a little further on to another section under repair. Once again the Fat Controller forgets to apply Winston's handbrake - but this time, Winston does not remind him…very, very slowly he begins to roll away by himself. By the time the Fat Controller realises what's happened, Winston gathers speed and careers away, whooping with joy!  The Fat Controller and the Workmen try to catch up, but it's no use. In desperation the Fat Controller stops Thomas with a stone train and, jumping into his cab, orders him to give chase after the runaway car.

 

Winston is having the time of his life; with no Driver he finds his journey much more comfortable. But Thomas and the Fat Controller are not far behind, determined to stop Winston before disaster strikes.  At the next junction, the Signalman sees Winston has no Driver and tries to send him off the Main Line - but he diverts Thomas instead! He makes an emergency call to the next Signalbox, and the Signalman there quickly switches Thomas back onto Winston's line.

 

Meanwhile, Winston's fun quickly comes to an end. He almost crashes into Bertie at a level crossing, and narrowly misses Paxton at a Junction when he's unable to stop at a red signal. Suddenly, Winston wishes he had a Driver now…

 

As he speeds towards Tidmouth Sheds, Winston sees a line of trucks ahead. With no one to apply his brake, he shuts his eyes and waits for the crash…next moment his engine splutters loudly, and he quickly slows to a gentle stop. Winston wonders what happened just as Thomas and the Fat Controller catch up. The Fat Controller angrily points out that Winston ran out of petrol - he scolds him for going off on his own. But Winston points out that it wasn't entirely his fault as the Fat Controller did forget to apply his handbrake… Embarrassed, the Fat Controller accepts his part of the blame, while Winston admits that he should have reminded him in the first place. He realises now how vital Drivers are.

 

Work on the bumpy track is finally finished, and the engines are pleased not to bump along anymore - unlike Winston. Winston doesn't mind the teasing now; he's happier to have the the Fat Controller back in the driving seat again.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.4 – Gordon Runs Dry

Written by Andrew Brenner

During a hot day, Thomas is asked by the Fat Controller to pull a passenger train known as "The Local" on the Main Line. Gordon, who is waiting for his Express coaches at Knapford, looks down his nose at Local Trains because they have to stop at every station - whereas the Express only stops at the important ones. And this, he considers, is why the Express is the most important train on the Island. As soon as Percy brings his coaches, Gordon puffs grandly away, leaving Thomas fuming.

 

Meanwhile, Paxton brings down a load of slate from the Blue Mountain Quarry. Approaching a Junction, he has to stop very quickly when his signal is set against him suddenly to avoid a collision with Gordon. In doing so, a large stone flies from one of Paxton's trucks and bashes against Gordon's boiler. Gordon suffers no ill-effects, although Paxton suggests that he should be checked over for damage, just in case. Gordon hasn't time to stop, and hurries away with the Express.

 

Gordon doesn't go far before he begins to feel thirsty. After topping up by a nearby water tower he tries to make up for lost time - but it's not long before his boiler runs dry again. Time and again he is forced to stop for water, but the passengers grumble at the delay.

Gordon tries to take his mind off water, such as naming the stations along the Main Line…but passing a lake and then a stream doesn't help matters at all.

 

At Wellsworth, Gordon stops to allow passengers on and off. Henry arrives and cheekily notes that Gordon is running very late. Gordon is determined to make up time now, and refuses to stop at the next water tower he comes across.  By the time he passes through Maron, Gordon is struggling to keep going. But hurrying uses up what little water he has left, and he finally grinds to a halt, completely out of steam.

 

A little while later, on his way with the Local, Thomas notices a trail of water on the line. Then when he's flagged down by Gordon's Driver, the two engines realise what had happened - Gordon has a leak in his boiler from where the stone had knocked into him.

 

Thomas kindly offers to take Gordon's passengers in Annie and Clarabel while Paxton, passing by with another stone train, offers to push Gordon to the Steamworks to be repaired. Gordon doesn't mind Thomas taking his passengers, but he feels too proud to be pushed by Paxton - and refuses to release his brakes. But then realising that he won't be mended this way, Gordon gives in and allows Paxton to shunt him to the Works, complaining all the way.

 

In no time, Gordon is mended and back at work. All the same, the other engines tease him for letting his boiler run dry. Gordon is not amused, but is much more careful to take better care of his boiler in future.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.5 – Calm Down Caitlin

Written by Davey Moore

At the end of a busy day, Caitlin picks up the last of her passengers at Ulfstead Castle to take back to the Mainland. But when she tries to leave, one of her tender brakes jam suddenly. Caitlin and her passengers are left waiting and waiting while Caitlin's crew try to mend the problem. By the time they're able to leave it's very late indeed - and at Vicarstown Bridge, Caitlin is met by the Fat Controller and a gang of workmen. The bridge is closed for repairs, which mean that Caitlin will have to spend the night on Sodor. The passengers are upset, but Caitlin is delighted.  However, the Fat Controller tells Caitlin that people are trying to sleep, so she should try to be as quiet as possible.

 

After dropping her passengers off at Kellsthorpe, Caitlin hurries off excitedly to Tidmouth Sheds. By now, she is far too excited to remember what the Fat Controller told her…When she arrives at Tidmouth Sheds, all the engines are fast asleep - until Caitlin arrives, blowing her whistle loudly, before having a spin on the turntable. After explaining that she's spending the night on Sodor, Gordon grumpily reminds her to stay quiet. But Caitlin is too excited to sleep and continues to chatter happily until Percy arrives. As soon as Thomas sleepily explains about Caitlin, Percy offers her his shed berth for the night.

         

Caitlin is suddenly curious - and asks where Percy would go. Thomas explains that Percy is taking the Mail Train, which gives Gordon an idea…he suggests to Caitlin that she should take his mail run for the night, which Caitlin immediately agrees.  At first, Percy is reluctant to give up his job, but for the sake of the other engines, he agrees - only warning Caitlin to be considerate as people are still trying to sleep. But Caitlin is still too excited to listen, and clatters noisily along with the Post Train, disturbing people living by the line side…

 

In no time, Caitlin finishes her run and returns to the sheds, chattering happily about how exciting the Mail Run had been. The other engines become annoyed again, until Henry finds another way to get rid of Caitlin - by offering his early morning train, The Flying Kipper. As Percy had done, he tries to warn her to be quiet and considerate…but doesn't get the chance to finish as Caitlin steams noisily away again. Fuelled with total enthusiasm, Caitlin roars through Wellsworth and the Safari Park, disturbing all the animals there. And she whistles a very loud "Good Morning" as the dawn rises over the horizon.

 

By the time Caitlin returns to Tidmouth Sheds, she his extremely tired - much to Gordon and Henry's delight! Caitlin is about to get some sleep when the Fat Controller arrives. He scolds Percy and Henry for being too noisy with their trains last night. The two engines admit that they didn't pull the Main nor the Kipper, which leads to Caitlin owning up and apologising for not listening to his warning of being quiet. The Fat Controller isn't cross anymore and thanks Caitlin for owning up - quickly adding that the Vicarstown Bridge has been mended and she can prove herself Really Useful by taking her passengers home. Caitlin puffs quietly and calmly away to fetch them.

 

But she is so tired after staying up all night that, while waiting at the Vicarstown Bridge, she immediately falls asleep! She doesn't sleep for long when Conner steams past and wakes her up with a loud whistle! Caitlin puffs away, wondering if staying up late had been such a good idea after all…

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.6 – Steamie Stafford

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

On their way to the Shunting Yards, Thomas and Stafford pass by some children at Wellsworth Station. The children cheer as Thomas puffs past, but they're puzzled when Stafford rolls silently by. They admit that they find it strange that Stafford doesn't make any noise at all. Stafford is upset when he hears this.

 

At the Shunting Yards, Stafford waits to collect his trucks of timber. He watches Thomas and Percy shunting close by and, listening intently, wishes he could make steam engine sounds too. When Thomas and Percy learn why Stafford looks so miserable, they decide to teach him how to make "steamie" sounds just like them. Stafford listens carefully to their puffing and chuffing, and imitates them as best he could before setting off to the Docks with his timber.

 

Stafford practices his "puffing" and "chuffing" all along the line, and is pleased to see everyone likes his new sounds. At the Docks, while his timber is unloaded, Stafford learns a new sound as Henry pulls in and lets off steam loudly. So now Stafford learns how to "wheesh" as he heads back to the yard.  On his way he passes Gordon, who whistles a friendly greeting. Stafford is intrigued by his whistle, and decides to imitate that as well. He meets the children at Edward's Station again, and this time they're impressed by Stafford's steam engine sounds, which pleases him no end.

 

Stafford returns to the yard to have his battery recharged when the Fat Controller arrives with his next job. Farmer McColl needs his help right away, and as soon as he is ready "Steamie Stafford" sets off with some livestock wagons, still making his new steam engine sounds.  As he draws up to Farmer McColl's farm, Stafford shows off his sounds with a loud "WHOO WHOO!" This only frightens his herd of lambs, who were grazing nearby. Farmer McColl is very cross - he asked for Stafford especially because he was meant to be a quiet engine and wouldn't scare his sheep. Stafford feels ashamed as the Farmer and his Dog head off to find their missing sheep, and decides that sometimes it's best to be a quiet electric engine after all.

 

While he's thinking this, Stafford suddenly hears the lambs bleating far off. But Farmer McColl has gone the wrong way, so Stafford quietly rolls away to find the Farmer and tells him where the lambs are. This time, Stafford approaches the lambs as quietly as he can, and soon they are safely loaded in their trucks where they're taken to their new field further on. Farmer McColl is very pleased for Stafford's help.

 

That evening, Stafford meets Thomas and Percy again on his way home. The two tank engines are surprised that Stafford isn't "puffing, chuffing, wheeshing or whooing". Stafford proudly tells them that he's not making those noises anymore: he's more than content being himself as he heads happily (and quietly) back to his shed.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

 17.7 – Henry’s Hero

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

After filling up on coal for the day, Henry and Hiro collect a long train of stone from Ffarquhar Quarry, which they must deliver to the Docks. But along the way, Henry notices dark smoke billowing from Hiro's funnel. Stopping at a signal, Hiro notices dark smoke from Henry's funnel too. Duck, passing by with some empty coal trucks, notes that they must have taken on some bad coal that arrived; he's been sent to collect some fresh coal to replace it.  Henry feels that they should wait until the fresh coal has arrived, but Hiro reminds him that they still have a job to do - they must try to be Really Useful, despite the bad coal. All the same, Henry is worried that the bad coal might damage his workings, and decides to return to the sheds to wait for the new coal to arrive.

 

Hiro is determined to carry on alone, but finds that he cannot manage the heavy train by himself. He decides to leave half of the trucks in a siding and come back for the rest later on.  As Hiro carries on with half his load, he meets Gordon at Edward's Station. Gordon complains of the smell from Hiro's dirty smoke, suggesting that he should have his firebox cleaned out. Hiro hasn't got time, and carries on to finish his important delivery.

 

When he pulls into Brendam Docks, Hiro's firebox starts to make a strange clanking sound, much to Thomas' amusement. Hiro hasn't got time to worry about that, and hurries back to collect the rest of his trucks. But along the way, his smelly smoke and strange noises cause quite a to-do wherever he goes. All the same, Hiro finishes his stone delivery in good time.  Almost before he's uncoupled from the trucks, the Fat Controller turns up with another job. Hiro is to collect some iron girders from the smelter's yard, and will need Henry's help as they are very heavy. Hiro tries to tell the Fat Controller about Henry and the bad coal, but hesitates when the Fat Controller informs him that the ship leaves at four o'clock and the delivery is urgent. So Hiro promises to do his best and hurries away to find Henry. It's only when he's leaving that the Fat Controller notices Hiro's dirty smoke…

 

At Tidmouth Sheds, Hiro tells Henry that he's managed to deliver all the stone but now needs his help with his next job. Henry is amazed that Hiro was able to keep going even with the bad coal. Hiro admits that it wasn't easy, but sometimes "you have to keep on puffing". Motivated, Henry agrees to help out this time.

 

Soon, Henry and Hiro set off to the Docks with their flatbeds of girders. Suddenly, Henry's firebox begins making clanking noises too, but Hiro urges Henry that they must carry on or risk missing the ship. As the two engines pound up Gordon's Hill, Hiro makes a very strange noise - and stops altogether. Hiro's firebox is completely blocked and he can't make steam. He feels disappointed…but Henry, still filled with confidence, is determined to "keep on puffing". With a huge effort, he begins to slowly push Hiro and the heavy girders by himself.

 

Thanks to Henry, they reach the Docks just in time. The dockworkers cheer for Henry, and the Fat Controller congratulates the two engines for their hard work. Hiro admits they would never had made if it hadn't been for Henry, and Henry adds he wouldn't have carried on if it hadn't been for Hiro.  Soon, Henry and Hiro have their fireboxes cleaned out and filed with fresh new coal. Henry is now confident that they can keep going even with bad coal…but Hiro laughs and admits that it's much nicer to keep puffing with good, clean coal, too.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.8 – Luke’s New Friend

Written by Davey Moore

One evening, after a busy day at the Blue Mountain Quarry, Luke and Rheneas decide to have a friendly race to the stone crushing shed. But Rheneas has to stop suddenly as something strays onto his line. Rusty and Sir Handel tell them that the animal is a young deer. This makes Rheneas cross; animals don't belong in a quarry, so far as he's concerned. Luke teases him for being scared.  That night, Luke is too excited to sleep for work the next day, and spends the night in a nearby tunnel. Suddenly, he sees the deer again. Now everything is peaceful and quiet, the deer curiously approaches Luke…but is startled by Owen's loud snoring. Luke is amazed by his meeting, and falls asleep not expecting to see the deer again.

 

But the next morning, when Luke's Driver and Fireman arrive for work, they're all surprised to find the deer fast asleep in Luke's cab. Rheneas can hardly believe it; he tells Luke again that the quarry is no place for a wild animal, but young Luke is sure that his new friend would get used to it. Rheneas is not convinced… With the deer still in his cab, Luke tries to puff quietly around the quarry. But every loud, sudden noise frightens the timid animal. A loud explosion finally has the deer scarping across the quarry in fright, where it takes an unexpected ride on one of Owen's platforms. Owen agrees with Rheneas that the little deer wouldn't fit in a loud quarry. Luke agrees and makes a decision…everyone should try to work more quietly.

 

Although the engines are willing to help Luke as best they can, they find it very difficult trying to work quietly. In fact, it causes Peter Sam to forget his bearings and bumps into Rusty. This causes a series of loud noises, which startles the deer even more. Merrick and Rheneas tell Luke that they can't work quietly and be Really Useful at the same time; it's impossible with the young deer around. Skarloey has the solution, and suggests that Luke could take a load of gravel up to Ulfstead Castle - at least there he could still be Really Useful away from the quarry.

 

So with the deer reunited in his cab, Luke sets off. He finds the grounds of Ulfstead Castle so peaceful and quiet. The young deer is happiest to be away from the noisy quarry and, to Luke's surprise, leaps out of his cab and towards another deer close by. Luke understands that Rheneas was right, and allows his new friend to bound away across the park. Although upset, he knows that the deer would be much happier in the castle park.  All the same, his friends are happy to see him return to the Blue Mountain Quarry, with Skarloey adding that Luke could still visit his friend the next time he takes gravel to the castle. Best of all, Luke is glad to be working noisily and busily at the quarry again!

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

 17.9 – The Switch

Written by Davey Moore

One day, when Luke makes a delivery to Ulfstead Castle, he meets the Earl of Sodor and his private engine Millie for the first time. When Mille is asked to show Luke where the stone must go, the two begin to talk about one another - Luke tells Millie about the hard work he has to do at the Quarry, while Millie remarks that she has hard work too, helping the gangers and taking visitors around the castle. Their conversation almost becomes an argument until Luke has an idea - the two of them could swap jobs for the day and see how the other works.  The Earl thinks it a great idea, and makes arrangements with the Thin Controller to carry out the "Switch".

 

Millie arrives at the Blue Mountain Quarry to start work, but Rheneas has doubts over the idea as Millie struggles with some trucks.  Meanwhile, at Ulfstead Castle, Luke is to take some supplies to the Groundskeeper. Confident with the light load he is given, Luke sets off to the Groundskeeper's Lodge. But he has difficulty finding it with all the greenery around him; everything looks the same. And to his surprise, he realises he made the entire loop of the estate without finding the lodge at all…!

 

Back at the Quarry, Millie soon has the hang of shifting the heavy trucks, but stalls when she comes to a tunnel - she's used to wide open space, not confined ones. Rheneas offers to help push her through, but Millie is determined to do it alone. She pucks up courage and charges straight through, whistling with delight. Suddenly, she finds tunnels lots of fun!  At the Castle, Luke begins his next job, taking visitors on a tour of the castle grounds. When he comes across a deer on the line, he blows his whistle loudly to move it aside. Luke thinks he did the right thing, but the passengers are disappointed…

 

As the day wears on, the two engines come across more difficulties: Millie becomes agitated with the constant dust surrounding her…while Luke travels too fast on his tour of the castle, leaving the passengers feeling giddy afterward!  But gradually, the two engines become accustomed to their different jobs - Mille doesn't mind getting dusty and realises how strong she actually is, whereas Luke learns to take things more slowly to give his passengers a more comfortable ride.

 

After work, Millie and Luke meet up again. While they both enjoyed the "switch", they also admit they'd be glad to return home. And so Luke and Millie return to their own jobs, with grateful understanding for one another.

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.10 – Not Now, Charlie

Written by Davey Moore

Charlie loves telling jokes - some engines enjoy them, others don't, while some can't help but smile anyway. Charlie becomes especially funny one day when he tells Thomas, Henry and Percy a series of elephant jokes.

 

A few days later, while on his way to collect some trucks, Charlie gets a shock when he comes across a real elephant wandering on the line. Realising it might be in danger, Charlie tries to "shoo" it away by whistling loudly. But the elephant takes no notice, forcing Charlie to look for help.  Charlie meets Thomas, then Percy and then Henry, and tries to warn them that an elephant is loose on the line. The three engines don't believe him; they think it's another of Charlie's jokes and each in turn cry out "Not Now, Charlie!" as they return to their jobs.

 

As he makes his way to the Docks, even Charlie begins to doubt whether he saw the elephant or not. But when he approaches the Animal Park, everything becomes clear - Charlie sees that a fallen tree has knocked down one of the walls of the Elephant Enclosure…

 

At the Docks, Charlie tries to warn everyone about the elephant again - this news startles Cranky, but the engines all laugh. They still think that Charlie is only joking. Charlie realises that he needs to find someone who will take him seriously, and so heads off to the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre.  There he finds Harold the Helicopter, who believes what Charlie reports and takes off into the air to find the missing elephant. The park keepers begin work mending the damaged wall as Charlie sets off with the Zoo Keeper to search on the ground.

 

At last, Harold finds the elephant near Brendam Docks. Charlie arrives with a special truck for the keepers to load the elephant into. With the elephant safety aboard, Charlie sets off back to the Animal Park. On his way he passes through the Docks again. Thomas, Percy, Henry and even Cranky are amazed when they realise that Charlie's story had been true.  As the elephant is led back into his mended enclosure, the Fat Controller praises Charlie for being a Really Useful Engine. Charlie learns that no one would take him seriously if he told jokes all the time, and vows to never tell another joke again…unfortunately, it doesn't last for very long…!

Click Here For The SiF Blog Review

17.11 – The Lost Puff

Written by Davey Moore

The Fat Controller warns the engines that a section beyond the Big Station has buckled under the hot sun - until it can be replaced, they must go carefully over the bumpy track.

Only Paxton is momentarily distracted by a workman trying to catch a duck close by. The Fat Controller firmly reminds Paxton to keep his mind on the job before sending him to deliver some trucks to the shunting yards.

Paxton tries to focus on his work, but as he travels over the bumpy track, he finds the bouncing about fun, and quickly forgets the Fat Controller's warning.

As Thomas arrives, Paxton encourages him to have a turn. Thomas finds it fun, too - but he travels too fast around Knapford Bend and bumps straight into Toby, who is taking on water at the water tower. Thomas' cab and firefox are soaked through. Ashamed and worried, Paxton hurries away to the yards.

Later on, while collecting more trucks, Paxton overhears Toby talking to Stafford about his accident, and how Thomas has "lost his puff". Thinking it to be a serious matter, Paxton becomes determined to put things right by finding it…only trouble is he doesn't know what a "puff" looks like!

Seeing a plume of smoke in the distance, Paxton heads towards it, believing it to be the lost puff. But the steam is coming from Gordon, passing by with the Express.

Then Paxton sees what he's sure is Thomas's "puff" high above him. He climbs the steep hill towards Ulfstead Castle to get as close to it as possible. But when he arrives, a very puzzled Stephen points out that it's just a cloud!

Paxton feels very silly as he hurries away to continue the search. But then he remembers someone who knows all about steam engines…immediately, Paxton rushes over to the Steamworks, where he asks Victor if he has any "spare puff".

Victor is very puzzled too, until Toby pulls in and hears the whole story. Toby laughs and explains to Paxton that "puff" is just another word for "steam" - he assess the young diesel that Thomas will be all right once his firebox has dried out.

Sure enough, when Paxton arrives back at Knapford, he is delighted to see Thomas in steam again. Paxton decides to try and pay more attention in future…which is easier said than done.

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17.12 – The Thomas Way

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

After rescuing some climbers from a high cliff, Harold's rotor blades suddenly jam near Callan Castle. Unable to take off, the Fat Controllers sends for Duck to bring Harold back to the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre by rail. Harold points out that he would be too tall and wide to fit within the loading gauge, but the Fat Controller has thought of that – he has also assigned Thomas to be Duck's back engine, and to mark sure they won't come across anywhere too narrow for them to travel through.

Harold is grateful for the engines' help, but he longs to be flying again. Thomas suggests, in a bid to cheer him up, that they could show Harold the sights of Sodor on the ground. But Duck reminds Thomas that "there are only two ways of doing things – The Great Western Way, and the Wrong Way." And the Great Western Way is to get Harold back to the Rescue Centre directly and promptly to be repaired.

Thomas becomes annoyed with Duck when his suggestions of visiting the Animal Park and the Suspension Bridge are quickly shot down. Duck points out that none of those sights are along their line, and that have a job to do anyway.

So Thomas decides to play a trick on Duck. He tells him that they have to collect the engineer from Knapford station to mend Harold. Unaware that this isn't true, Duck leads Thomas and Harold to the Big Station.

Harold is very impressed when he sees Knapford from an engine's perspective. But suddenly, Thomas realises that Harold is too tall to fit under the station roof, and screams at Duck to stop - which they do so just in time. But Harold is also too wide, blocking Gordon and the Express from leaving the station.

The Fat Controller is surprised to see Thomas, Duck and Harold at the station. Duck tries to explain that they've come to pick up the engineer - only for the Fat Controller to reveal that the engineer is already waiting at the Rescue Centre…

Furious with Thomas, Duck becomes more determined to stick to "The Great Western Way". As they approach a tunnel, Thomas tries to warn him that it isn't wide enough. Duck thinks its another trick and takes no notice…but sees too late that Thomas was right when Harold's blades become wedge against the tunnel walls.

Trapped in the tunnel, the engines are unable to continue their journey until Workmen arrive to free Harold. The Fat Controller is very cross at the damage Thomas and Duck have caused.

When they manage to pull Harold free, the two engines make up and decide to work together again. Duck wonders how they would reach the Rescue Centre without going through anymore tunnels, until Thomas suggests that they take "The Thomas Way".

So Thomas takes over the front of the train along a route of his choice, which is longer but doesn't have any tunnels. And with Duck keeping an eye out, they finally reach the Search and Rescue Centre without further trouble. Harold thanks them for their help as he's unloaded for repairs.

On their way home, Duck admits that there might be three ways of doing things – the Great Western way, the Wrong way and the Thomas way. Although he quickly adds that "the Great Western Way is usually the best!"

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17.13 – The Phantom Express

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

One foggy evening, Percy and James are preparing to take some trucks up to Ulfstead Castle. Percy is excited as it would be his very first mail delivery there. James decided to have some fun with Percy – he warns him to be on the lookout for the "Phantom Express", a ghost train who "rattles the rails", blaring his ghostly whistle. Thomas tries to assure Percy that ghosts don't exist, but Percy is still nervous as he heads off to the castle with the mail train.

At Ulfstead Castle, Percy waits while his Driver unloads the mail sacks – suddenly he hears a strange puffing noise from a dark tunnel. Percy thinks it's the Phantom…but it turns out to be Stephen. When he hears about the "Phantom Express", Stephen reassures Percy that he's never seen any ghosts around the estate.

Shortly after, James arrives with coal for the castle fires. Percy and Stephen tell James that they don't believe his "ghost" exists at all. This makes James cross, and stubbornly tells them that he "saw" the Phantom Express himself.

Suddenly, they hear an eerie noise close by. It's only an owl hooting, but James cheekily remarks that it's the whistle of the Phantom Express. Stephen isn't so sure now, but tells Percy that they should meet up after they had finished their jobs just in case.

James decides to have some more fun while he's waiting. He rolls into a dark siding next to a stack of pipes. Unseen by Stephen, James whistles loudly though the pipes, which make a loud, spooky sound. Stephen is so startled that he reverses quickly back to the castle – but he doesn't see that the drawbridge has been raised. Stephen's Driver and Fireman jump clear as he falls off the bridge into the dry moat below.

Meanwhile, Percy finishes his mail run and is looking for Stephen. Very quietly, James creeps up behind Percy and starts moaning and groaning loudly. Thinking it's the Phantom Express, Percy hurries back to the castle. But he doesn't see the drawbridge either and he falls into the moat alongside Stephen. Stephen dryly remarks that Percy has found the "meeting place"…

James decides he's had enough fun, and tries to find Percy and Stephen. But as he puffs around the castle grounds, he realises that he's completely alone – very soon, he starts to believe his own ghost story…

The drawbridge is lowered to let James cross, hiding Percy and Stephen from view. The two engines decide to whistle for help. James, terrified, thinks it's the Phantom Express and rushes away from Ulfstead Castle.

James meets the Fat Controller at the dairy. In a fluster, he tells them that Percy and Stephen might have been caught by the Phantom Express. The Fat Controller knows that there are no such things as ghosts, but agrees to go to the castle to find out what's happened.

When they arrive, the Fat Controller hears the "ghostly whistling" and orders the drawbridge to be raised. Lo and behold, they find the two missing engines still in the moat. Percy explains what happened, forcing James to admit it had been his fault.

After Rocky rescues Percy and Stephen, the Fat Controller punishes James by giving him Percy's mail run for a whole month. Percy and Stephen jokingly wish him luck, hoping he doesn't meet the "Phantom Express" again!

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17.14 – Percy's Lucky Day

Written by Davey Moore

Percy is having a bad day. Whilst delivering the mail at Wellsworth Station, he mistakes a passenger's green handkerchief for the Guard's flag, and starts away before the mail sacks are properly unloaded. One of the mail sacks split open and letters spill out across the platform. Bill and Ben, passing by with a delivery of pumpkins, laugh rudely at him.

Later on, trying to make up for lost time, Percy suddenly comes across some spilt pumpkins in his path. Unable to stop he runs right over them, not only winding up with sticky wheels but spilling more of his cargo onto the track. He's later than ever while his crew try to clear the mess.

Thomas and Hiro feel sorry for Percy, and kindly remark that he's just having some bad luck. This makes Percy wonder if he has become a jinx…

Meanwhile, the Fat Controller scolds Bill and Ben for carelessly dropping some of their pumpkins on the Main Line. To ensure that it won't happen again, he reminds the twins that next time one of them would act as back engine, amidst their protests.

When Percy finishes his mail run at Ulfstead Castle, he tells Stephen about his unlucky day. Stephen points out that some engines would carry a lucky charm if they were worried about bad luck. In fact, he offers Percy his own charm, a horseshoe, to help turn his luck around. Percy is delighted and suddenly feels much better. But as he puffs away, he jolts roughly, causing the horseshoe to fall off his brake-pipe…

Next morning, Percy happily does his day's work without any accidents. He does such a good job that the Fat Controller entrusts him with delivering an important package to the Duchess of Boxford, which he does so without incident.

Percy happily returns to the yard. But on the way, he sees Bill and Ben in trouble – Ben has derailed near an embankment, and Bill isn't strong enough to rescue him on his own. Percy offers to help, confident that he would manage with his lucky horseshoe…until Bill points out that it isn't there. Suddenly worried, Percy feels he won't be able to help without making things worse.

But when Ben slips closer to the edge, Percy decides to try and help anyway, lucky charm or no. Using all his strength, he helps Bill pull Ben back on the rails and to safety. The Fat Controller arrives on board Winston in time to see everything, and congratulates Percy for being a Really Useful Engine.

Leaving the Fat Controller to deal with Bill and Ben, Percy hurries back to Ulfstead Castle. Sadly, he tells Stephen that he lost his lucky charm…until Stephen explains that he dropped the horseshoe before leaving the estate – he never had it in the first place all through his "lucky day". Percy realises that he didn't need the horseshoe to feel lucky, just positive thinking.

In fact, Stephen admits that he doesn't believe in lucky charms at all – he only made it up in the hope that it would make Percy feel better. And Percy admits that it did.

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17.15 – Bill or Ben?

Written by Andrew Brenner

Whilst delivering trucks along the Main Line, Bill and Ben are startled when a huge Express Engine thunders past. Further on, they met Thomas, who tells them that the new engine was Connor: his job is to ferry visitors to and from Ulfstead Castle. He assures them that Connor is really quite friendly, but Bill and Ben think otherwise. They believe that all Big Engines are show-offs. And on their way home, they decide to play a trick on Connor…

On his next visit, Connor meets Bill for the first time near the Vicarstown Bridge. Bill cheekily bets that he could beat Connor in a race to Ulfstead Castle. Connor doesn't think it would be fair, but agrees anyway to prove his point.

It's not long before Connor leaves Bill far behind…but when he arrives at Ulfstead Castle, he's very surprised when he sees who he thinks is Bill already waiting. But it's actually Ben, who urges Connor in another race back to the bridge.

Connor takes no chances on the return journey, going as fast as he possibly could. Determined to beat "Bill", he overshoots a red signal and nearly collides with Henry, pulling out on his line ahead. Unluckily, the Fat Controller and Winston witness Conner's incident close by. Just as the Fat Controller scolds Connor for his recklessness…Bill and Ben turn up, surprising them both!

As soon as he learns what had happened, the Fat Controller decides to put an end to the twins' tricks for good. He sends Bill to the Steamworks to be repainted blue, remembering to warn Victor not to fall for any of their tricks. Now Bill and Ben are different colours, everyone would know who is who. The twins aren't happy now that they can't play tricks anymore. But soon, Ben has an idea of how they could still have some fun…

Next day, at a time when Victor is away, Ben arrives at the Steamworks – masquerading as Bill, he declares that he's arrived for his repaint. Kevin is certain that they repainted him yesterday, but when "Bill" threatens to tell the Fat Controller on him if he doesn't, Kevin decides to quickly carry out his "orders".

When Victor returns to the Steamworks, it's already too late – Bill and Ben are the same colour again, this time both blue!

So it is that Bill goes to find Connor and cajoles him into another race. Connor, remembering that one of the twins is now blue, is certain he would win the race this time. But he is completely unaware that Ben has had a repaint too…!

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17.16 – Too Many Fire Engines

Written by Andrew Brenner

Thomas is taking the Fat Controller and a group of Railway Inspectors around the Island. Their last stop is the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre. The Fat Controller proudly shows off Belle and Flynn's fire-fighting facilities. The three Inspectors are impressed, but then question if it seems necessary to have two fire-fighting locomotives – the Fat Controller remains adamant that it is, much to Flynn and Belle's relief.

Just then, Butch arrives with news of a shed fire near Wellsworth. Belle and Flynn head off at once – but knowing that it's quicker to Wellsworth by road, Flynn makes use of his road wheels.

However, as he nears Wellsworth, Flynn suddenly suffers from a flat tyre. All he can do is watch helplessly as Belle arrives shortly after and puts the fire out by herself. The Railway Inspectors all congratulate Belle's performance, while Flynn is towed back to the rescue centre, disappointed. Butch cheers Flynn up, encouraging him that he'll do better next time.

A few days later, Harold the Helicopter spots a forest fire near Alresdale End. Flynn hurries away to the fire, this time taking the rails to avoid another flat tyre. But once again, Belle reaches the fire before him and puts it out just as Flynn arrives on scene. Flynn's hopes shrink as he sadly returns to the Rescue Centre, thinking that perhaps the Railway Inspectors were right…

Several days later, Ulfstead Castle is holding a Fireworks display, and Thomas tells Flynn that the Fat Controller wants him to be on guard there in case of fire. But Flynn is still feeling depressed; he feels that Belle would do a better job than him. So that night, Belle is sent to Ulfstead Castle to watch out for fire.

While everyone is enjoying the fireworks, Flynn is left all alone in his shed, sulking. Suddenly Butch arrives, informing Flynn that he's needed urgently to put out a fire. Flynn is reluctant at first, he's sure that Belle could handle it herself…until Butch points out that the fire is at Brendam Docks, not Ulfstead Castle. Belle can't leave, and Flynn is the only fire engine available. His confidence restored, Flynn leaves at once.

Flynn arrives in time to help the Dock Workers put out the burning shed. His job done, Flynn proudly heads home, relieved in the knowing that the Fat Controller does need two fire engines after all.

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17.17 – No Snow for Thomas

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

It's a cold winter's day, and all the engines have been ordered to wear their snowploughs for the forthcoming snowstorm. But Thomas doesn't like his snowplough, which is heavy and uncomfortable for him. So he decides to play a trick on his Driver – he tells him that the snowplough wouldn't fit properly. The Driver decides to remove it and leave it on a siding to collect later. But when Thomas returns to the shed that evening, he pretends he can't find his snowplough.

During the night it snows heavily, and in the morning all the engines set off with their snowploughs at the ready – but as Thomas hasn't got his, the Fat Controller orders him to stay in the shed until it can be found. Meantime, Emily is ordered to clear Thomas's Branch Line for him.

Thomas is delighted not to have his snowplough and enjoys staying in his nice warm shed, while Emily puffs crossly back and forth along the Branch Line, grumbling about the snow. When she comes across some nearby children, she sees how much fun they're having in the snow – building snowmen, sledging down the hill – and decides to have some fun clearing the snowdrifts herself.

In fact, she has so much fun that she finishes the job in no time. The Fat Controller is very pleased, and lets her take Annie and Clarabel out for the passenger run.

Back at the shed, Thomas eventually becomes bored, and longs to have something to do. When he sees Emily coming to collect Annie and Clarabel, and hears how much fun she had clearing the snow, he suddenly feels left out. Determined to not be left alone any longer, he decides to head out to the siding where his Driver left his snowplough.

But the search is a difficult one as everything looks the same in the snow. As Thomas puffs along his Branch Line it starts to snow again. The tracks become blocked and, inevitably, Thomas gets stuck. Cold and lonely, it feels like ages before at last Emily comes across Thomas with the Fat Controller on board.

Thomas is sorry for disobeying orders as he explains that he was trying to find his snowplough – only for Emily to add that they found his snowplough and were looking for Thomas to tell him.

As soon as Thomas is rescued from the drift, his Driver fixes his snowplough on once more. The Fat Controller is not happy about Thomas "hiding" his snowplough, and orders him to clear the tracks for Emily the day after. But Thomas promises to always wear his snowplough every winter – and later on Emily takes him to where the children are playing, just to show him how much fun snow can really be.

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17.18 – Santa's Little Engine

Written by Andrew Brenner

The Earl of Sodor, Sir Robert Norramby, is hosting the Ulfstead Christmas Fair up at the castle. He asks his old friend, the Fat Controller, if he could dress up as Father Christmas on the last day as a treat for the children. The Fat Controller is delighted to…until the Earl adds that he wants him to ride in an old-fashioned sleigh, hauled by real reindeer.

The Fat Controller is suddenly worried, he doesn't know how to drive such a sleigh and tries to find a way around it. He takes his Inspector Car, Winston, to the Steamworks where Victor and Kevin try their best to make him look as close to a sleigh as possible. The final result isn't very convincing, much to Winston's great embarrassment, and the Earl decides to go ahead with his original plan.

The next morning, Thomas collects the old sleigh from the Docks and heads off to Ulfstead Castle. But frost has made the rails slippery, and Thomas has a hard time climbing the steep hill up to the castle.

He arrives safely and the Workmen unload the sleigh just as Millie pulls up with the Fat Controller in Santa Claus guise. His heart sinks at the sight of the sleigh and unwillingly clambers in as Sir Robert orders the men to collect the reindeer.

Then comes trouble – as Thomas backs out of the way, the workmen realise that part of the sleigh is in his path. Thomas tries to stop but slips on the ice, and bumps into the sleigh. It slides down the hill and settles onto the rails, with the Fat Controller still on board!

Thomas goes after it as the Fat Controller and the sleigh slide helplessly down the hill, and along the track leading to the old mine. As Thomas hurries to the rescue, low tree branches catch onto his smokebox and funnel.

Meanwhile, as the Earl cautiously wonders about the Fat Controller, Stephen arrives with news that the children are waiting for Santa Claus. Then to everyone's delight and relief, they look to see Thomas puffing back up the hill towing the sleigh behind with a very thankful "Santa Claus", unhurt but indignant of his ordeal.

The Earl laughs as he realises that the tree branches make Thomas look like a reindeer. To finish it off, he sticks a large red cup onto Thomas's nose – dubbing him "Thomas the Red-Nosed Engine!" And smiling broadly, Thomas gently hauls the Fat Controller towards the fair to wish all the children a very Merry Christmas.

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17.19 – The Missing Christmas Decorations

Written by Andrew Brenner

Everyone is looking forward to Christmas. All across Sodor, the stations and sheds are brightly decorated. Only Diesel 10 isn't happy – the Dieselworks have a few Christmas decorations but not, as discovered by Norman, as grand as those at Tidmouth Sheds. Still up on his hoist, Sidney tries to cheer up his friends by passing himself off as a decoration.

Even so, Diesel 10 decides to "inherit" some new decorations for their shed, and orders an unwilling Paxton to come along and help him out.

That evening at Tidmouth sheds, the steam engines are appalled to find that their Christmas Tree has gone. They assume that someone must has stolen it, and someone had…

At the Dieselworks, Diesel 10 finally succeeds in setting up their "newly acquired" Christmas Tree before deciding that some Christmas lights would be just the thing.

The next evening, the steam engines arrive home to discover that someone has now stolen their Christmas lights. None of them knows who it could be…

Meanwhile, the Diesels begin to get into the Christmas spirit. Diesel 10 even cheekily hangs the lights on Sidney instead of the Christmas Tree. He's decided to decorate that with garlands instead…and knows just where he and Paxton can find some…

at which point, Paxton puts his foot down. He doesn't want to steal anymore decorations. And anyway, the Fat Controller has asked him to collect a truck from the Shunting Yards.

So the next day, when the yard is empty, Diesel 10 slips towards Tidmouth Sheds alone to steal the garlands himself. He grabs hold of it with his claw just as Percy comes out of his hiding place to find the thief. Despite being caught, Diesel 10 decides to make a run for it anyway, and thunders away with the garlands as Percy bravely gives chase.

All along the Main Line, Percy whistles the message to the other engines he meets, and very soon the members of the Steam Team chase after Diesel 10 all the way back to the Dieselworks. There, to their outrage, they find their missing Christmas decorations.

Diesel 10 complains that it's unfair that they should get better decorations, but Thomas points out that the Fat Controller likes ALL his engines, Steam and Diesel combined. As if to solidify this, Paxton arrives with the truck from the Fat Controller – which is full of brand new Christmas decorations just for the Dieselworks. At this, Diesel 10 falls into abashed silence…

The steam engines collect their own decorations – which are rather battered and broken now – and head home. Only Percy stays at the Dieselworks for a little longer with something on his mind. Curiously he asks about Sidney, and is shocked to learn that he's been "hanging about" on his hoist for over two years, waiting for his new wheels. Sidney can't remember how long it must have been as he assumes that the order must have been misplaced. So on his way home, Percy goes to find the Fat Controller…

The next evening, the steam engines at Tidmouth Sheds hear an unfamiliar horn, and are amazed to find Sidney rolling happily towards them. He's come to say "thank you" to Percy for giving him the best Christmas present ever – his new wheels. Now he can finally be a Really Useful Engine again.

Gordon and Emily think that the Diesels didn't deserve it after stealing their decorations, but Percy reminds them all that Christmas is a time for kindness and giving to others. Sidney agrees, as do the other Diesels, who decide to offer their decorations to make up for the ones they've ruined. They're content now with brightening up their Dieselworks with Sidney, his new wheels…and a spare set of Christmas lights!

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17.20 – The Frozen Turntable

Written by Andrew Brenner

One winter's evening, the engines discover that the turntable at Tidmouth Sheds has frozen up, pointing to one engine berth only. After discussing the matter, they all agree that Percy should be allowed the single available berth as he would be out all night with the Mail Train, while the rest find other sheds for themselves.

Flynn offers two spare sheds at the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre, but Gordon turns it down - he's certain that he wouldn't get any sleep if the emergency alarm suddenly goes off. So James and Emily go instead.

Victor only has room for two engines at the Steamworks. Henry and Edward accept. but Gordon objects again. Sleeping in the Workshops, he feels, would make him worry about breaking down for him to get any sleep at all. Victor reminds Gordon that he still needs to find a shed for the night to protect him from the cold…but even his suggestion of an empty shed at Whiff's Waste Dump doesn't persuade the fussy engine.

Thomas and Gordon come across Norman, who offers them a spare shed at the Dieselworks. Yet again, Gordon refuses as he doesn't like the smell of their Diesel Fuel. So Thomas follows Norman to the Dieselworks, leaving Gordon alone. Gordon tries hard to think of another shed that would be suitable for him to stay in, but every time he draws blank.

In the end, Gordon returns to Tidmouth Sheds in the hope that the turntable might be working now. He is disappointed to find it still frozen – and decides, rather selfishly, to take the only accessible berth for himself…

Percy is surprised and cross when he returns much later that night to find Gordon occupying the empty berth. But as he is too tired to argue, Percy heads for the empty shed at the Rubbish Dump, while Gordon happily has Tidmouth sheds all to himself. It isn't quiet for long when the workmen return to try and mend the turntable again.

Before long, Gordon's Driver and Fireman arrive early in the morning to get him ready for the Express. As they begin stoking his fire, they hear a great cheer outside as the Workmen manage to get the turntable working. But their victory is short-lived – no sooner does the turntable turn away from Gordon then it stops again. This time it is completely iced-up, with Gordon trapped in the sheds!

The Fat Controller is not happy when he hears what's happened, and decides on a fast turnaround: while Percy pulls James's coaches, James will pull Gordon's Express. Gordon has no choice but to wait in the shed while the Fat Controller personally supervises the maintenance work.

At long last, the turntable is mended properly, and Gordon steams eagerly out of the shed…only to find that it is evening and the other engines are returning home. The Fat Controller has decided that as Gordon hasn't done anything really useful all day, he shall make up for it tonight by pulling Percy's mail train. Gordon tries to protest, but the Fat Controller points out that for tonight only "the tables have turned!"

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17.21 – No More Mr Nice Engine

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

Edward brings some trucks of cheese, bread, butter and milk to the Shunting Yards for Hiro to pick up later. Diesel is also there, as usual shunting the other trucks too roughly. Despite Edward's warning to be more careful, Diesel bumps his trucks so hard that some of the milk churns rattle loose, unnoticed by the workmen.

Hiro arrives some time later to collect his trucks, wishing them all "good morning". Diesel tells Hiro to stop being a "Mr. Nice Engine" all the time. Troublesome Trucks, in his view, deserve a good hard bump to teach them manners. But kind-hearted Hiro knows that that is not the way.

To prove his point, as he heads to Knapford Station, Hiro remains kind and patient despite the trucks' efforts to cause trouble for him, rattling and bumping for most of the journey.

At the Big Station, the Fat Controller happily looks on as the supplies for the station cafeteria are unloaded from Hiro's train. But when they came to the trucks of milk churns, they spill out onto the platform, and all over the Fat Controller's trousers! Hiro is most embarrassed.

Later that day, Hiro meets Diesel again at the Docks, and tells him what had happened. Diesel knows it was his own fault that the milk had been spilt, but blames it on the Troublesome Trucks anyway – and again tries to convince Hiro he should have shown the trucks who was boss by biffing them. But Hiro still believes that being polite and kind is the best way to deal with Troublesome Trucks.

This makes Diesel is cross, he thinks that his way is better and decides to show Hiro how troublesome trucks could be…so instead of adding a brake van behind Hiro's next train, he pretends to be Hiro's Back Engine and the Shunters coupled him up.

Totally unaware, Hiro puffs away with his next load of cream and milk, pulling Diesel along with all the trucks.

When they reach Gordon's Hill, Diesel puts his brakes on to help the trucks hold Hiro back. Hiro has a hard time climbing the hill, and when he finally reaches the top Diesel urges the trucks to push hard to make Hiro go too fast down the other side. They thunder through Edward's Station and past a very surprised Thomas, who is collecting passengers there.

Being the "Master of the Railway", Hiro quickly has the trucks under control and strives harder than ever to remain polite and kind. But Diesel, determined to prove his point, begins to continually bump the trucks hard – and they in turn bump into Hiro they near the Big Station.

At last, Hiro's patience runs out. He declares "No More Mr. Nice Engine!" and gives his trucks a tremendous bump to make them behave. Taken by surprise, Diesel bumps the last truck so hard that three barrels of cream fly out and land on the ground near the Fat Controller and Edward. Cream spills everywhere, once again soaking the Fat Controller's trousers!

Diesel tries to slip away, but Thomas comes up behind to stop him escaping. Hiro finally realises what Diesel was up to – as Edward mentions the incident with the milk – and the troublesome engine is forced to apologise. The Fat Controller agrees that it's high time that Diesel learnt how to handle Troublesome Trucks properly – and decides that the best engine to teach him would be Hiro.

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17.22 – Away From The Sea

Written by Andrew Brenner

Salty starts developing engine trouble one day, coughing and spluttering more than usual. Cranky suggests that he should go to the Dieselworks to find out what's wrong, but Salty is apprehensive – he fears if it's something serious, he'll be sent back to the quarry (when he first arrived on Sodor in Season 6), and might never return to the Docks again. So he tries to carry on as normal.

A few days later, a new engine arrives at Brendam Docks. His name is Porter, a small tank engine with three domes. He explains to Salty that that's where his sand boxes are; the steam dome in the middle keeps the sand dry, ready for pouring if the rails become slippery. Salty is impressed, but wonders what Porter is doing at the Docks…

The Fat Controller soon explains that Porter has arrived to help out. He has become aware of Salty's engine problems and wants him to go to the Dieselworks to be repaired while Porter does his work for him. Salty has no choice but to obey orders - but deep down he worries that Porter would do his job better than he could, and he might not be needed at the Docks anymore.

While Salty is away, Porter sets to work at the Docks. Eager to learn, he constantly asks Cranky where things should be kept. While this annoys Cranky, he soon becomes fond of the chirpy new arrival.

At the Dieselworks, Salty shares his concerns with Den and Dart, and they sympathise for him. They don't think it's right that a Dockside Diesel should work in a quarry, but they also know that they can't rush his repairs.

In no time, however, Salty's engine is mended and running well once again. But in his haste to return to the Docks, Salty accidentally bumps into some fuel trucks and is covered in thick oil. Den and Dart offer him a wash-down, but Salty declines and quickly leaves, still covered in oil.

Along the way, his wheels slip time and again as the oil drips under his wheels. But Salty uses his own sandboxes to sand the rails and maintain his grip. At last, he sees the Docks in view and sings merrily all the way home.

But as Salty hurries onto the quayside, his sandboxes run dry and his oily wheels cause him to slide helplessly along the track. He runs straight into a shipment of party decorations, but keeps on sliding! Luckily, Porter is on hand to act as a "stop block" on the other end, and slows down Salty to avoid an accident.

Covered in confetti and feeling foolish, Salty thanks Porter for helping. But he's ashamed when the Fat Controller scolds him for causing confusion and delay, and sadly accepts that he'll be sent away back to the quarry.

The Fat Controller is surprised – he knows that Salty has been rather silly today, but he'd sooner send him to have a wash than to the quarry. He has already decided that Salty and Porter should work together as they are both still Really Useful.

Salty is delighted, and he and Porter become fast friends – working and singing happily side by side at the Docks.

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17.23 – Thomas's Shortcut

Written by Andrew Brenner

Thomas and Bertie became good friends ever since their "great race", but sometimes they race purely out of fun – seeing which of them can get to the level crossing first as they deliver passengers by road or rail. But recently, Bertie has been winning far more races than usual, which annoys Thomas.

Finally, Bertie lets Thomas in on his secret: the reason is that he has been rerouted, so his new "shortcut" takes him to the level crossing faster.

That night at the shed, Thomas grumbles about how unfair it is that Bertie should be rerouted. Percy curiously suggests that, if he wants to win more races against Bertie, perhaps he should try taking a shortcut too. Thomas seems keen on the idea…

But the next morning, Annie and Clarabel are certain that there aren't any "shortcuts" along Thomas's Branch Line. Thomas feels sure that there must be one somewhere as they set off together.

The first set of points Thomas finds have already been set and hurries along it…only to find that it's a loop siding, which takes him back onto the Branch Line! Despite Annie and Clarabel's warnings, Thomas ventures off at the next junction, which lead him instead to a Goods Yard, forcing Thomas to back up to the main Branch Line.

Finally, Thomas sees an old track leading through the woods, and is sure this time he's found a "shortcut". With Annie and Clarabel (and their passengers) still protesting, he puffs down the old line.

Meanwhile, Bertie is waiting for Thomas to pass through the level crossing, and becomes concerned when he takes too long. He is forced to carry on when his own passengers start grumbling at the delay.

Thomas continues through the woods, positive that he'll beat Bertie yet. But suddenly he comes to the end of the line – crashing through a set of buffers in the undergrowth, Thomas slips down an embankment not far from the road. Moments later Bertie turns up, surprised to find Thomas off the rails. Even so, he kindly offers to take his passengers to their destinations, but it is much later until Harvey arrives to rescue Thomas, Annie and Clarabel.

The Fat Controller is very cross, but Thomas has learnt his lesson. He's had enough with "shortcuts" and promises to stick to his usual route from now on…and quickly sees that he doesn't even need a "shortcut" to win a race against Bertie now and again!

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17.24 – The Smelly Kipper

Written by Andrew Brenner

Sometimes at night, James tells scary ghost stories to the other engines, which frighten Percy: it makes him nervous whenever he's out all night with the Mail Train. James thinks Percy is just a frightened little engine. So Henry challenges James to pull his train, The Flying Kipper, to prove he's not afraid of the dark. James gladly accepts, and heads to the Docks that very night.

Porter is arranging the trucks for The Flying Kipper as James arrives. But very quickly, James discovers something he is afraid of…the strong smell of fish! James hurriedly changes his mind and heads back to Tidmouth Sheds to wake up Henry.

A very sleepy Henry is sure that James said he would pull the Kipper, but James tricks Henry into thinking that he must have dreamt their conversation, and that he's needed at the Docks right away.

Henry does his best, but every delivery of fish is late that night, and it is daylight when he finally returns home. The Fat Controller demands why Henry had been so late, and Henry admits that he overslept because of his "dream". But Thomas and Gordon quickly add that it wasn't a dream, they both heard James talking to Henry last night.

James doesn't feel very clever then as he admits that he didn't want to pull the "Smelly Kipper". The Fat Controller is not impressed, and decides that, smelly or not, James would pull the Flying Kipper that night to make up for his broken promise to Henry.

That evening, James grudgingly returns to the Docks where Cranky is unloading the crates of fish. The trucks begin teasing James as he backs onto them. James becomes cross and forgets to watch where he's going. His tender bumps straight into the next load of crates Cranky is unloading, and they split open all over James! The trucks scream with laughter, and even Porter can't help but smile. "You're supposed to take the fish in the trucks!" he remarks to James.

The mess is quickly cleared up, but the smell of fish is stronger than ever as James hurries to make up for lost time. In the morning, the other engines notice a fishy smell...and find that it's coming from James! Gordon adds jokingly that James has brought a "present" for the Fat Controller – there is still a mislaid fish on James' bufferbeam, much to his disgust!

Despite his embarrassment, James cheers up a little when the Fat Controller arrives and congratulates him on a splendid run with The Flying Kipper, in spite of his "little accident", and sends him to the washdown to be cleaned as a reward. James hopes he would never have to see another fish for a long time afterwards!

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17.25 – Gone Fishing

Written by Andrew Brenner

Whilst loading trucks of machinery at Brendam Docks, Harvey meets Porter for the first time. Porter is immediately impressed at seeing a crane engine, and notes that Harvey must be "doubly useful" as either one or the other.

Just then, Bill and Ben turn up and jokingly ask Harvey if he's "going fishing" with his hook. Harvey is used to the twins' teasing, but he becomes annoyed when they call Porter "bumpy boiler". Porter doesn't mind, he's proud of his three domes and tells Harvey it's just "water off a duck's back" – meaning that he doesn't let silly teasing get the better of him. Harvey is intrigued by this expression as the engines resume work.

A while later, Harvey finishes loading the flatbeds, but the Dock Manager is concerned. Edward, who had been scheduled to take the train to Vicarstown, has been delayed and needs to find another engine. Harvey offers Bill and Ben…until the twins "suddenly" remember that they're needed back at the Clay Pits. So Porter suggests that Harvey ought to take the trucks, noting that he is an engine as well as a crane.

Harvey isn't sure at first, he's used to loading trains not pulling them. Bill and Ben joke that he wouldn't need to pull them – "you could pick them up with your hook and carry them, like fish!" But remembering Porter's clever idiom, Harvey agrees to try. So he is coupled up to the flatbeds and puffs proudly away.

Harvey makes steady progress until he reaches Gordon's Hill. The train becomes much heavier and difficult for him to puff up the steep slope, until a passing Thomas whistles encouragement. At last, Harvey reaches the top of the hill and begins running down the other side, pushed by the heavy train behind. Harvey finds it much easier as he begins speeding up, but then comes to a sharp bend in the track.

Unable to slow down in time, Harvey's trucks jump the rails and lay spreadeagled across the Main Line. Harvey is unhurt but very embarrassed. He is only too glad that Bill and Ben had not seen his accident as he's sure they would only tease him again. It's then that he remembers their cheeky remark about "carrying the trucks"…and realises that he's not just an engine, but a crane, too!

With that, Harvey sets to work lifting the undamaged trucks one by one back back on the rails. This done, he resumes his journey, remembering to pull harder going uphill and braking carefully downhill, and manages to finish his delivery with no more trouble at all.

Harvey returns to the Docks where the Fat Controller and the Dock Manager congratulate him on being a Really Useful Engine. But Harvey adds that at times it's handy to be a Really Useful Crane, too!

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17.26 – The Afternoon Tea Express

Written by Laura Beaumont & Paul Larson

Stephen is pleased when the Earl gives him the weekly task of collecting cream, tea and jam from the Docks for the Afternoon Tea at the castle. Spencer reminds Stephen that he would be too slow for the job – and that, despite his old nickname of "The Rocket", he's no faster than a horse and cart!

Stephen is determined to try just the same. On his first delivery, he heads back to the castle with what he dubs "The Afternoon Tea Express". But try as he might he can't go as fast as he would like, and even holds up Gordon with the Express. Gordon is in no mood to be delayed, and so he buffers up and gives Stephen a very fast ride indeed, pushing him along with the Express, only slowing down for Stephen to change tracks at the Castle junction.

Stephen is annoyed by Gordon's impatience, but realises that he arrives at the castle early, much to the surprise of the Earl and Spencer.

And so, once a week, whenever he collects the "Afternoon Tea Express", Stephen would ask one of the other engines to give him a friendly "push" to ensure he would always run on time. Very soon, visitors start to call him "The Rocket" once again.

But there comes a week when Stephen can find no available engines to give him a push. The only engine he comes across is Spencer, who teases him for running late. But Stephen tricks Spencer into giving him a push, remarking off-handedly that he probably wouldn't be fast enough to get him back to Ulfstead Castle. Infuriated, Spencer is determined to give him the run of his life!

Spencer pushes Stephen faster than he has ever gone before – but when they reach the castle, Stephen is still going too fast to stop in time. He hits the buffers of the station siding, and the barrels of jam are thrown onto the platform, covering the Fat Controller, Lady Hatt and the Earl. Ashamed, Stephen tells the truth of why he was always on time, and decides that he shouldn't try to be "The Rocket" anymore.

However, he does find a way to make up for the spilt jam. He offers to give the visitors a ride to the Docks to collect more jam and they could have their afternoon tea as well as a train ride. The Earl thinks this a wonderful idea…and Stephen ensures to give everyone a nice, slow journey!

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