Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
Main Page

“A pond is the only place for a toad, I suppose...”
―Oliver joking about Toad

Busy Going Backwards is the twenty-third episode of the fifth series. It first aired alongside Happy Ever After in an airing of Storytime with Thomas in the US.


One day, Toad feels sad and bored; he can see engines and coaches moving forwards, unlike he who can only see things from behind. He decides to talk to Oliver about his problem and tells him that while he is always going backwards, he has forward thinking views and could be a leader. Gordon tells him that he cannot be a leader if he does not have a train to follow him, which makes Toad even sadder. Oliver tells him he is a Really Useful brake van, that he helps him brake and keeps trucks in order when they go down hills, though Toad says it would still be nice to go forwards for a change. The trucks overhear everything Toad says and are cross that he does not appreciate looking after them, so they vow to pay him back for his words.

So when Oliver takes a goods train up Gordon's Hill, and when they near the top, the trucks' chance comes, and break away the coupling from Oliver and go careering back down the line. The guard jumps off his post and leaves a helpless Toad in a state of shock. At first, Toad enjoys his journey travelling forwards, but his enjoyment is short-lived as he crashes through a closed crossing gate at, nearly colliding into Bertie, who just passes through it. Suddenly, Toad now realises that he is on the wrong track but narrowly avoids a very surprised Gordon, with the help of a nearby signalman. After thundering through Edward’s Station, Toad sees James coming down the line with a slow goods train. Just when they are about to crash into each other, a shunter switches Toad off James' line just in time, leaving James perplexed at what just happened. The signalman calls ahead to the stationmaster at the next station. The stationmaster tells the signalman he will divert Toad and the trucks into a siding. When Toad thunders through Crosby station and goes into a siding, the plan works, but it backfires when Toad is diverted back onto the main line from the Crosby yards, due to a points' failure.

Meanwhile, Oliver is racing to Toad's aid. Toad and the trucks speed past a surprised Henry and they are approaching a bridge under repairs. Luckily, the workmen have been warned about the runaway and divert Toad and the trucks onto an old siding, leading straight into a muddy pond. Although filthy, Toad is relieved that he has finally been stopped, while Oliver soon arrives and jokes about the situation. That night, Toad speaks to Oliver, apologising for any embarrassment he may have caused him. Oliver asks him what he thought of going forwards; Toad tells him it was a fun experience, but he will look forward to remaining backwards from now on as he now appreciates seeing everything from behind. In other words, "busy going backwards."




  • Like A Surprise for Percy, two episodes ago, this episode is based on a couple of "hair-raising" runaway trains in the Tondu valleys that occurred during David Maidment's time as Area Manager in South Wales.
  • A rendition of the William Tell Overture (Finale) is remixed as the runaway theme. The piece would be re-used three times in Thomas the Jet Engine and the original UK version of Rheneas and the Roller Coaster and The Runaway Elephant.
  • The picture of Duke from Bulldog can be seen in the signal box.
  • The close-up shot of Toad when he says "Oh, no! I'm back on the main line!" is mirrored.
  • This episode marked the last of a few things:
    • Crosby and Wellsworth Crossing's last appearances, not counting being mentioned for Crosby in Gordon Runs Dry.
    • The last episode to feature WLLR trucks with faces.
    • The final appearance of the bridge at the bottom of Gordon's Hill to date.
    • Oliver and Toad's last appearances and speaking roles until the seventh series, and their last leading role until said series episode, Snow Engine.
    • The last appearance of James' original smug face, before it would become recasted and had the eyes covered to become a sleeping face during production of the then-upcoming Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • In the UK dub, James' line "EYYOIIIKES!!!" as Toad is about to crash into him was later used for Skarloey and Rheneas in Rusty and the Boulder, which was two episodes later (three episodes later by production order) in this series.
  • Toby's chassis was seen pushing Toad and his train of trucks past the buffers that were set away by the points. A scrap cab piece from the Märklin engine can be seen by the pond.
  • The brick portion of the Skarloey Railway Engine Sheds appears behind Gordon during the runaway sequence.
  • Dryaw Goods Station appears at the pond.
  • A clip from this episode was featured on an episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien featuring Alec Baldwin. It was used to discuss a controversial subject that Baldwin's voice for James invoked a gay stereotype as far as Conan O'Brien was concerned. However, because the show was in widescreen, the clip from this episode was presented in 16:9 instead of using the original 4:3 ratio the episode was last produced in.
  • Toby's Shed from the first series and the barn Thomas (then later Gordon) crashed into in Bye George! can be seen when James is puffing along the Main Line.
  • A map of the east of Sodor, which features Crovan's Gate and the Skarloey Railway, is seen inside the signalbox. It is also seen in Sleeping Beauty, Bye George! and Oliver's Find. The map was made in the fourth series and was used as geographical reference for the locations in concept arts.
  • In the US dub:
    • A clattering sound effect was heard from the trucks racing down the hill after the narrator says the guard jumped clear.
    • A splash sound effect was heard when Toad crashes into the pond.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday meaning the American audience would not know about Annie and Clarabel's new refurbish look.
  • This is the only episode in the fifth series to be released early on VHS in Canada before airing on TV.


  • At the beginning of the episode, the tracks end behind Wellsworth.
  • When Toad rolls to the bottom of Gordon's Hill, the edge of the scenery can be seen.
  • When Toad switches lines to avoid Gordon, the track ends in bushes.
  • A string can be seen when Toad goes out of the siding.
  • After he passes Gordon and before he meets James, Toad is shown on the left track without any shots of him switching to and from it. He is meant to be on the middle track the whole time until the shunter switches him. This was likely because the scene order was changed in the final edit.
  • Before Toad switches to the left track to avoid James, he is on the middle track. Footage of the close up of Toad shutting his eyes before hitting the crossing has been reused with Toad on the right track, not the middle track.
  • James' close-up shows him passing a workman, but when we see Toad's POV, there is not a workman that far past James.
  • After Toad avoids James, a works coach moves from in front of the points to behind the points.
  • When Toad gets diverted into the Crosby yard, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner of the point-of-view shot of him entering the yard.
  • In the overhead shot of Toad being diverted into the Crosby yard, Toad and the two trucks behind him derail just as they leave the frame.
  • When Toad swerves away from the buffers and back onto the main line, an unmodified Märklin chassis (used in Toby's model) can be seen pushing him and the trucks.
  • In the POV shot of Toad swerving away from the buffers and back onto the main line, a crocodile clip can be seen on the tracks.
  • Oliver switches from left track to middle track, then presumably back to left track again during the chase.
  • When Oliver rushes under the Wellsworth footbridge, part of the fencing is bent.
  • The narrator says, "They diverted [Toad] onto old sidings" rather than "They diverted [Toad] onto an old siding."
  • One of Gordon's back buffers is slightly turned after Toad passes him.
  • When Toad and the trucks race through Wellsworth, the truck at the front is brown, when it was dark green before
  • The narrator says that James is pulling a long slow train, but the train is neither long nor slow. Rather it is a short fast train. In the same scene, one of the vans has a badly damaged roof.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner.
  • The truck who says, "We're making your wish come true, Toad!" is missing one of his eyebrows.
  • When Toad cries "Help! Save me!" a scratch can be seen under his left eyebrow and fades out.
  • In the shot of Toad rolling toward the bridge before the pond, the truck at the front has a small, rectangular face, when before, it has a square face.
  • For most of the chase sequence, Toad only has one tail lamp.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, his roof was spotless while part of his body was mud-covered. But when he was talking with Oliver at the sheds, his roof was mud-covered while part of his body was spotless.
  • The track arrangements at Oliver's shed changes between the day and night sequences.
  • In a rare photo of the trucks in the yard, the shed behind them is not positioned properly as the tracks go underneath it and the bottom of the shed is not touching the ground.
  • When Toad is about to crash into the pond, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner of the screen.
  • The Crosby signal box says Tidmouth Hault.
  • In the scene of the runaway going under the bridge on Gordon's Hill, Toad and the rest of the train come to a standstill before the scene cuts.
  • Throughout the episode the truck's change loads multiple times, when they break away it's a mixed train of coal and stone with some tarped trucks however when Toad enters the yards at Crosby, they are all stone trucks. Later, when Toad is diverted into the track leading to the pond the trucks are mostly empty with the rear few having tarped loads.


  • Toad: I'm always going backwards, Mr. Oliver. I have forward-thinking views. I could be a leader if you know what I mean.
  • Gordon: You can't be a leader without a train to follow you. You don't have a train.
  • James: UK dub: EYYOIIIKES!!! / US dub: Oh my goodness!
  • Toad: Help! Save me!
  • Narrator: A quick thinking shunter did, just in time. (As Toad goes onto another line, James passes by)
  • James: What was that?!
  • Toad: HELP! HELP! (then sees some buffers) Those will stop me.
  • Narrator: But the points to the buffers weren't set.
  • Toad: Oh no! I'm back on the mainline!
  • Oliver: I must catch Toad! I must!
  • Toad: I'm sorry, Mr. Oliver if I caused you any embarrassment.
  • Oliver: That's all right, Toad. So, what do you think of going forwards?
  • Toad: It was fun! But from now on, I'll be happy to look forward to the future, busy going backwards, so to speak!

In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Ocupado Indo Para Trás
Chinese Mandarin 急于后退
Czech Pořád jen dozadu
Danish Fremad og Bagud
Dutch Blij om achteruit te gaan
French En arrière, toute!
German Toad und das Rückwärtsfahren
Hungarian Hátrafelé Robogva
Italian Indietro Tutta!
Japanese うしろむきのトード
Korean 토드의 바람
Latin American Spanish En Reversa y no a la Inversa
Norwegian Bakover
Polish Jazda Tyłem (Original)
Cała Wstecz (Alternate)
Romanian Viața în Coada Trenului
Russian Задом наперед
Serbian Vožnja unazad
Slovenian Vožnja vzvratno
Swedish Paddys dröm
Welsh Yn Ôl ac Ymlaen

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets


DVD Packs


  • Happy Holidays





DVD Boxsets




  • Thomas and Friends Volume 2