The Adventure Begins

R Healy

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS is the seventh Thomas & Friends Direct-To-DVD Special produced by HIT Entertainment.  It is the first mini-special to be written by Head Writer, Andrew Brenner.

The Adventure Begins takes us right back to the very early days of Sodor, for a bit of a reimagining of the events of The Three Railway Engines and Thomas The Tank Engine.  We see how Thomas becomes a really useful engine, and see an expanded Knapford station yard, where Thomas sets to work shunting coaches and trucks for the big engines to take on long journeys!


The story is an expansion on the events of the first two Railway Series books, and as well as the original Awdry content, mixes in a lot of original thought and events created by Andrew Brenner to tell a feature length story and to establish Thomas’s very early beginnings.  It marks the first time in twenty years that Railway Series stories have been adapted for screen, and the first since Series 7 that Mike O’Donnell & Junior Campbell’s original songs and themes have been used in a production.


The Adventure Begins is based on the stories by The Rev. W. Awdry, written for the screen by Andrew Brenner, Head Writer for Thomas & Friends.

Songs Of The Special

Really Useful Engine

Lyrics by Mike O'Donnell & Junior Campbell

Recomposed by Peter Hartshorne

Vocals by Robert Hartshorne


Troublesome Trucks

Original Lyrics by Mike O'Donnell & Junior Campbell

Recomposed and New Lyrics For The Adventure Begins by Peter Hartshorne

Vocals by Robert Hartshorne

The Adventure Begins was commissioned by Wal*Mart and ASDA as a special DVD release to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Thomas & Friends, which would be exclusive to their stores.  Ian McCue, Andrew Brenner and Sam Wilkinson agreed that the best way to celebrate the milestone was to go back to the beginning and tell the story of how Thomas became a really useful engine.


The Adventure Begins is hoped to be the first in a line of a series of ‘mini-specials’, which will act as prequels to the existing Thomas & Friends universe, drawing on material from the original Railway Series books.


Glyn the Coffee Pot Engine






Jerome & Judy the Breakdown Cranes

Voice Cast
















Key Production Team


Michael Carrington



(HIT Entertainment)

Ian McCue



(ARC Productions)

Jennifer Hill



Peter Hartshorne

(Some themes based on Mike O'Donnell & Junior Campbell)



Sharon Miller



Sam Wilkinson


Don Spencer

Reviews & Blogs

Simon Martin returns to review The Adventure Begins for the SiF Blog

Shortly after The Adventure Begins was released in the UK, we asked for your opinion on the feature, the songs, whether you'd like to see more and other things - the reception was astoundingly positive!  Click the link to see and read our Poll Report!


Ryan discusses his ideas on how Books 3 and 4 could be adapted into a feature to follow-up The Adventure Begins

SiF’s Chris The Xelent gives us his audio review on The Adventure Begins, as well as running down his thoughts on previous Thomas & Friends specials from recent years!

Related Videos



“A long time ago, on the Island of Sodor, there was a little railway known as the North Western. The smallest engine working on the Main Line was Edward...”

At the start of this story, Edward is cheerfully arranging trucks and coaches in the yard when Gordon comes puffing slowly through, complaining about having to pull a goods train.

He goes on to tell Edward that a new engine is due to arrive later today, so hopefully he won’t have to help pull trucks anymore...provided that this engine will be bigger and better than the last one “with the wooden brake blocks...

At this, the engine in question pulls out suddenly in front of Edward and Gordon – a black tender engine called James, who insists that he’s big enough to be Really Useful, even with wooden brake blocks.

Gordon is not convinced, imagining what would happen if James’ brakes might catch fire. He orders James to move out of his way and leaves the yard in a huff.

Gordon’s journey becomes more difficult when he reaches the big hill beyond Wellsworth.

The Troublesome Trucks begin to hold back, forcing Gordon to go slower and slower...until he finally gives up.

His Driver and Fireman argue with Gordon, but he simply refuses to go on.

So the message is sent through to Sir Topham Hatt, the man in charge of the North Western Railway (known to the engines as the Fat Controller). 

He goes to the yard and asks Edward to help Gordon with his goods train.

Edward arrives just as Gordon reverses his train to the bottom of the hill. Gordon thinks that Edward is too small to be of any use, but Edward is still determined to try.

So he buffers up behind the brake van and the two engines force the trucks up the hill, puffing to one another;


“I can’t do it! I will do it! I can’t do it! I will do it! I can’t do it! I will do it!”

Then to Gordon’s surprise and delight, he finds himself at the top of the hill. He hurries away down the other side, forgetting all about Edward and not even stopping to say “thank you”...

Later that day, Edward is shunting in the yard when he hears an unfamiliar voice talking to James.

He realises that this must be the new engine. When he goes to meet him, he’s rather amazed at the new arrival – a Brighton-built tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy boiler, a short stumpy dome and a short stumpy funnel. He is overjoyed at coming to work on the Island of Sodor.

Edward greets the newcomer warmly, but admits that he wasn’t what he had been expecting, in that he had assumed the Fat Controller had ordered a bigger engine to help.


Just then Gordon arrives, and he expresses his views on the new engine with severe distaste. He thinks that the Fat Controller must have made a mistake, bringing in an engine too small to be Really Useful. This annoys the new tank engine, but the arrival of the Fat Controller soon changes everything.

The new engine introduces himself as Thomas.

The Fat Controller is pleased to see Thomas has arrived safely, and encourages him to work hard and be Really Useful.

So Thomas starts work right away, with Edward showing him what to do. But Thomas is dazzled by his new workplace, and realises that he has a lot to learn indeed...

Near the end of the day, Gordon is resting in the yard after pulling the Express. Thomas decides to teach him a lesson for being rude – by creeping up quietly and whistling loudly, making Gordon jump. Edward is highly amused, but Gordon is less impressed than before...

That evening, Thomas makes his way to Tidmouth Sheds as a storm rolls in. He has enjoyed his first day on Sodor, but he can’t wait to start pulling trains and see the world beyond the yard. Edward reminds him that he’ll have to learn how to shunt properly first before he gets the chance.


Just then, a big green engine bustles onto the turntable, urging the workmen to turn him round as quickly as possible. As the heavens open and the rain pours down, the engine hides out of sight in the warm, dry shed.

Edward introduces Thomas to Henry – a kind engine but deeply afraid of the rain. He goes on to explain how his phobia once got him into trouble;


“Once an engine attached to a train

was afraid of a few drops of rain,

He rushed into a tunnel

and squeaked through his funnel

and never came out again...”


One rainy day, Henry stopped in the Ballahoo Tunnels and refused to come out, complaining that the rain would spoil his green paint with red stripes.

The passengers argue with him, but Henry would not move, not even when it had stopped raining.

The Fat Controller ordered the passengers to force him out, first by pulling the train, then trying to push it – excusing himself from both duties due to the fact that “His Doctor had forbidden him to push!”

When that didn’t work, they try pushing him out with another engine, but Henry refused to move and held fast against the other engine.

In the end, they took up the rails, built a wall in front of Henry and left him there.

But thankfully, Henry was eventually let out again to help pull the Express after Gordon burst his safety valve... which point Gordon interrupts the story and orders Edward and Thomas to get some sleep!

The next day, Thomas is sent to the Steamworks to be repainted. When he returns to the station yard, he gleefully shows off his new look – blue with red stripes, and a smart Number 1 on his sides.

Gordon still isn’t impressed, remembering that the last Number 1 had been a ‘Coffeepot’. Edward explains that it is a nickname for engines with vertical boilers “like those things people make coffee in”.

They used to run one of the branch lines, and that there might be one still on a siding somewhere...

But Gordon hasn’t got time for idle chatter, and demands his Express coaches to be brought to the platform at once. Edward asks Thomas if he could fetch them as he has his own train to take out.

Thomas is rather upset; he thought he and Edward would be working together. Edward kindly replies that they will, but not all the time. He has to learn to shunt the yard by himself.

So Thomas goes to the carriage sidings and pulls out the first rake of coaches he sees. But the carriages are indignant by this intrusion. They introduce themselves as Annie and Clarabel before explaining that the Express coaches are on the other sidings.


Thomas apologies most graciously and kindly pushes them back into their siding before collecting the right coaches. Annie and Clarabel are taken by Thomas’ sweet nature, and feel sure that he’ll go very far indeed.

Thomas soon finds that looking after the yard by himself is very hard work. He’s kept busy all day long, pushing and pulling trucks and coaches for the bigger engines.

That evening, Thomas sees Annie and Clarabel again – this time being pulled by James, who puffs importantly into the yard, announcing his arrival and grinding his brakes as he pulls up sharply.

But as he does so, Thomas swears that he can smell a burning smell. James pretends not to have noticed and puffs sheepishly away to prepare for his next train...

A little later, Thomas meets Henry taking on water. Remembering Edward’s story, Thomas asks Henry why he’s so afraid of the rain. Henry doesn’t really know himself, and he doesn’t like being teased about it.

Thomas admits that he isn’t teasing, he’s just curious – it’s only drops of water, like the water he fills his tank with. “After all, you can’t stop the rain...

The next morning, Thomas has trouble waking up – his fire isn’t burning properly and there isn’t enough steam.

Henry reminds Thomas that he has to get Gordon’s coaches ready for the Express. Finally, Thomas raises enough steam to hurry away to work.

Gordon is fuming by the time Thomas arrives with the Express coaches. While he’s being coupled to the train, Gordon has an idea – he still hasn’t forgiven Thomas for rudely waking him up the other day.

So when all is ready, he starts off so quickly that the men don’t have time to uncouple Thomas. Poor Thomas is pulled along behind the Express, going faster and faster – passing a very surprised Edward along the Main Line!

At last, Gordon stops at Wellsworth station, confident at having shown Thomas what hard work is like. Poor Thomas is uncoupled for a rest and a long, long drink.

The next day, Thomas is back in the yard again. But he still wants to pull trains like the other engines; he doesn’t like being in the yard all the time. Whilst crossly shunting, he spots some trucks on a lonely siding – a Workmen’s Coach and two strange things called ‘cranes’...


Thomas comes over for a closer look and cheekily wakes them up. The two cranes are suddenly alert and full of panic, wondering if something terrible has happened.

Thomas quickly apologises before being called away by Annie and Clarabel. They explain that he mustn’t touch those trucks because that’s the Breakdown Train.

The two cranes, Judy and Jerome, are only to be moved in an emergency, like if “a poor helpless coach” needs lifting back onto the rails.

At that moment, James bustles importantly into the yard, ordering Thomas to take away his trucks and to fetch him his coaches.

James doesn’t care if Annie and Clarabel think he’s a show-off – he feels confident that one day, the Fat Controller would give him his very own branch line to run. It’s then that Thomas notices the burning smell again...

The following morning, Henry won’t come out of the shed. Thomas asks if it’s because he’s worried that it might rain, but Henry thinks there might be something wrong with his boiler – he might not be able to pull his train if he’s not ready in time.

Thomas is secretly hopeful as he shunts Henry’s coaches to the platform: if Henry is ill, perhaps he might be allowed to take the train for him.


Edward can see how enthusiastic he is, but warns Thomas that pulling trains is a lot of hard work.  Thomas is too excited to listen, and puffs on to the platform to wait for news of Henry.

When Henry still doesn’t come, the Fat Controller requests that another engine should pull the train. The only engine available is the Fat Controller agrees, and Thomas puffs happily to the front of the train, eagerly and ready to be off.


The Fat Controller tells Thomas not to be impatient, but he is still too excited.

On the other platform, a Guard blows his whistle to signal Edward away...but Thomas thinks that it is his Guard, and he pulls away before he is coupled to the train!

Thomas puffs happily along the Main Line, thinking how easy it is pulling trains, not realising that he has left his coaches behind - and wondering why everyone is waving to him!

At the next signalbox, the Signalmen receive the message, but are too late to stop Thomas in time. Thomas mistakes their frantic waving and shouting as a friendly greeting and carries on.

Luckily, Thomas is stopped by a signal at danger further along the line.  The Signalman asks him why he is there, and Thomas explains that he is pulling a train... it is only then that he discovers that he has left the coaches behind!

When Thomas returns to the big station, all the passengers are telling the Fat Controller what a Bad Railway it is. Thomas is very sorry, and this time he waits until he is coupled to the train and all of the passengers have re-boarded before he is able to pull the train properly.

That night, Gordon and James tease Thomas about his mistake. Thomas is very sad, and feels sure that the Fat Controller would never allow him to pull trains again.

Edward feels sorry for him, and so kindly offers to swap jobs – he can shunt the yard while Thomas takes Edward’s goods train. Thomas is delighted and happily accepts.

In the morning, Thomas puffs happily away to find the trucks.

But Edward warns him to be careful; the Troublesome Trucks are liable to push him off the rails if he doesn’t take care.

Thomas is confident that they won’t play tricks on him, and sets off once again on the Main Line.

The trucks become crosser and crosser as they rattle along, but Thomas is too busy enjoying his journey. It’s when they reach Gordon’s Hill that it all goes terribly wrong...the trucks catch Thomas by surprise and push him down the hill.

Thomas tries hard to stop them from going too fast, and just manages to avoid crashing through the buffers at the next station. Unluckily, the Fat Controller sees everything...

Thomas and Edward are both scolded by the Fat Controller. He will not allow them to leave the yard until Thomas has learnt as much about trucks as Edward. Thomas is unhappier still...

...until one stormy day, while he’s arranging Henry’s passenger train, Thomas realises that he won’t come out because of the rain.

Sure enough, when Thomas goes to the sheds, he finds Henry hiding inside, refusing to come out. Thomas reminds Henry that his passengers are waiting for him, but Henry is just too afraid to leave.

However, Thomas doesn’t give up – gently and kindly, he coaxes Henry out of the shed, showing him that rain isn’t anything to be afraid of.

Very slowly, Henry summons the strength and courage and follows after him...and realises that Thomas is right. Rain is only water, and it doesn’t spoil his paint at all!

Several days pass, and Thomas works harder than ever in the yard, determined to prove himself Really Useful.  He knows now that he needs to learn properly, and that he does not know everything after all.

Edward is pleased to see improvement in his work, and hopes that the Fat Controller will too, when he returns to the station in the afternoon.

Suddenly, they both hear an engine whistling for help. Then James rushes through the yard much too fast, being pushed by the Troublesome Trucks.


Thomas is worried for his friend, and hurries after James to try and help him, whilst Edward and the Fat Controller look on in bewilderment at the spectacle.

Thomas runs alongside and eventually catches up, calling for James to apply his brakes. But James can’t stop – his wooden brake blocks have caught fire!


Smoke and sparks stream from either side as the trucks push him on and on, laughing and screeching behind him and loving every second of the chaos!

Thomas has another idea; at a junction, he switches onto James’ line and calls to the Guard to couple him up in the hope that he can slow the train down.


But the train is going faster than ever, and despite his best attempts, the Guard can’t get Thomas coupled up to the brake van to pull them back!

But by then, it’s already too late. At a bend in the track, James comes off the rails into a field of cows, dragging the entire train with him.


No one is hurt, but Thomas is horrified at the sight, realising that Edward was right about the Troublesome Trucks, and how dangerous they can be.  Without hesitation, he hurries back to the main station for help.

Edward is trying to explain the matter to the Fat Controller when Thomas races into the yard.  

At once he is coupled to the Breakdown Train, and Judy and Jerome call for the men to climb into their coach, ready for action.  Thomas doesn’t have time to tell the Fat Controller what’s happened; he has to help James first.

Thomas works hard clearing up the mess, pushing the groaning trucks out of the way. With the unhurt trucks clear, Judy and Jerome set to work lifting a very battered James back on the rails.

Edward arrives with the Fat Controller, who congratulates Thomas on his hard work, before ordering him to take James to the Steamworks.

That night, Thomas is given a hero’s welcome by all the workmen. Edward, Gordon and Henry are very impressed with Thomas’ heroism, none more so than the Fat Controller.


He has decided that for being such a Really Useful Engine, he feels that Thomas has proven himself worthy enough to be given his very own Branch Line. Thomas is delighted!

But Gordon protests at this – with Thomas away, the big engines would have to learn to fetch their own coaches until the Fat Controller can find another tank engine...

A few days later, as Thomas and Edward are preparing for work, a shiny red engine they don’t recognise puffs into the yard... it’s James, fresh back from the Works with some proper brakes and a splendid new coat of paint. 


He’s very proud and looking forward to resuming work again, but he is most surprised to learn that he won’t be working with Annie and Clarabel anymore!  They are Thomas’ coaches now, and they’re off to start work on the Branch Line!

So, with a cheerful whistle from Edward, Thomas the Tank Engine puffs happily away to his new Branch Line, with Annie and Clarabel trundling behind.


At last, Thomas is off to see the world and to experience further adventures to come. And at Ffarquhar station, he even comes across the original Number 1, who wishes him the best of luck with his new responsibilities.