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“Surprise, surprise! Catch us if you can!”
―The troublesome trucks after breaking away from Percy

A Surprise for Percy, lengthen to A Big Surprise for Percy in one American release, is the twenty-first episode of the fifth series. It aired alongside Snow during the first airing of Storytime with Thomas in the US.


Percy has been working at the coal mines and is fed up with the work. His driver tells him they need to make the best of a bad situation, and Percy agrees to try. But the next morning, the trucks start teasing Percy and sing about him being small, useless and slow, which angers Percy and he bumps some trucks hard. He takes some trucks to be loaded with coal, then he glumly takes them up the hill to the yards. On his way back down, he has to stop at a crossing where Bertie is waiting. Percy explains his situation to Bertie, and Bertie tells him that excitement is surprising; he never knows when it will happen, otherwise it would not be exciting. As Bertie leaves, Percy thinks about how things would be exciting if something surprising happened.

Later that day, Percy stops at the water tower where Toby is waiting. Percy says that things are boring, so Toby tries to cheer him up by suggesting he have a few fast spins on the turntable, but Percy does not agree; he thinks it'll just make him dizzy. As he leaves, Toby tells him that he will soon know more about trucks than any other engine, and that would be exciting. When he returns to fetch more coal trucks, there are more trucks than ever, and they all begin complaining that Percy is too small to pull all of them uphill, calling him slow. Percy crossly biffs them, making the trucks giggle at his temper.

Percy is soon coupled up to a line of trucks and pulls them backwards towards the hill. The trucks continue joking about Percy being slow and taking all night and into the next day to get up the hill, but Percy finally snaps and demands them to be quiet. At that moment, just as he reaches the top, his coupling breaks and the trucks race backwards down the hill. They speed backwards through the level crossing where Bertie is waiting, and Percy hurries down to the signal box. His driver tells the signalman, and the yard foreman tells the Fat Controller that the trucks are heading for the big hill. The hill will slow them down, but they may roll back into the village. The Fat Controller declares that they'll just have to stop the trucks themselves.

In no time, the workmen board Bertie, and he and the Fat Controller chase the trucks down the road while Percy follows them on the track. As the Fat Controller and Bertie reach the hill, they overtake the trucks. They come to a stop near the top of the hill just as the trucks begin to climb it themselves. The trucks slow to a stop, and the workmen manage to put chocks under the trucks' wheels to keep them from rolling away again. Just then, Percy arrives, and Bertie asks him what he thought of a chase. Percy admits that the chase was exciting and surprising. He decides that Bertie was right: a Really Useful Engine should never be surprised by surprise.




  • This episode is inspired by a runaway in the Garw Valley that occurred during David Maidment's time as Area Manager at Bridgend. That true story would later inspire Busy Going Backwards, two episodes after this one.
  • Stock footage from Put Upon Percy is used.
  • Music is used when Percy returns to the coal yard and the trucks sing at him in the US and international dubs but not in the UK dub.
  • In the UK dub, just before the runaway, the narrator refers to Sir Topham Hatt by his real name. This is one of only a few occurrences in the UK dub where this happens.
  • Much of the footage during the runaway is sped up.
  • The load that Cranky drops on Percy from Cranky Bugs is seen on the ground to the right of the screen when the trucks at the coal mine sing.
  • This marks the only appearance of the Miner's Halt station in the television series.
  • A brown building, the three berth garage and the steel rig outer frame from TUGS appear at the coaling plant.
  • The wooden part of the Skarloey Railway Engine Sheds appears at the coaling plant.
  • The old station from Oliver's Find is seen as the Fat Controller and Bertie chase the trucks, which possibly implies that it is located somewhere between Miner’s Halt and the Coal Mines.
  • The boat repairs building from Lakeside and Norramby Fishing Village can be seen at the miner's village.
  • A rare image implies that Thomas was to play a role in this episode.
  • This marks the first appearance of Bertie's unused shocked face from the second series.
  • A truck at the mine shaft when the others grumble has a face only seen in this episode, it has yet to surface in production materials and post-production events as well.


  • The backdrop is visible during a close-up of Percy struggling up the hill.
  • Just before the truck's coupling breaks, Percy's cylinder appears to be broken.
  • In the bird's-eye shot of the trucks, a wire can be seen pulling the trucks forward.
  • In some shots of Percy pulling the trucks up the hill, his first red stripe is out of place.
  • In one scene the Fat Controller and Bertie park at the end of the stone wall, but in the next scene, they are nowhere to be seen.
  • In the last shot of Bertie, he has cracks on his roof and drivers window.
  • As the Fat Controller's car and Bertie drive past the line, there is green foliage covering the tracks.
  • In a close-up of the trucks racing up the hill, the brake van is at the wrong end of the train.
  • Shortly after the chase begins, Bertie has stopped at the far end of the set.
  • When Percy goes in between the two lines of trucks, the first truck on the viewer's right is coming off its wheel frames.
  • When the narrator says "The trucks were still grumbling," the first truck in line's left (viewer's perspective right) buffer is missing. In the next shot, the same truck has disappeared altogether.


Bertie: What's the matter, Percy?
Percy: Nothing exciting ever happens, that's the matter. It's just coal, coal, coal and trucks/cars, trucks/cars, trucks/cars! I'm bored, bored, bored!

Trucks: You're much too slow to pull all of us. We want another engine, or we'll be struggling up the hill all night! [chant] All night! Alright! You can puff and blow! But on that hill, you're still to slow! Ha-ha!
Percy: (stuttering) Slow yourself! [he bumps the trucks again]
Trucks: Temper, temper! [laughs]

Percy's Driver: Go do it, Percy!
Trucks: Too slow! More power! (Here) all night! Tomorrow too!
Percy: Be quiet!!

In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Uma Grande Surpresa para Percy
Chinese Mandarin 给培西的惊喜
Czech Překvapení pro Percyho
Danish En Overraskelse for Percy
Dutch Een Verrassing Voor Percy
French Une Surprise pour Pierre
German Eine Überraschung für Percy
Hungarian A Meglepetés
Italian Una Sopresa per Percy
Japanese パーシーびっくり
Korean 힘내라, 퍼시 (DVD Acadamy)
퍼시는 심심해! (EBSv)
Latin American Spanish Una Sorpresa para Percy
Norwegian En Overraskelse for Percy
Polish Niespodzianka dla Percy'ego (Original)
Niespodzianka dla Piotrusia (Alternate)
Portuguese Uma Surpresa Para Percy
Romanian Surpriză pentru Percy
Russian Сюрприз для Перси
Serbian Iznena Ženje za Persija
Slovenian Presenečenje za Poldija
Swedish En Överraskning för Percy
Welsh Syndod a Rhyfeddod i Persi

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets



  • Make Someone Happy and Other Thomas Adventures

DVD Boxsets


  • Spooks and Surprises
  • The Complete Series 5

DVD Packs


  • Spooks and Surprises




DVD Boxsets