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“A pond is the only place for a toad, I suppose...”

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


One day, Toad feels sad. 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. He 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. 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 and 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, nearly colliding into Bertie who has just gone through it. Then, he finds out he is on the wrong track, and narrowly avoids a very surprised Gordon with the help of a nearby signalman. Then, he sees James coming down the line with a slow goods train. 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 passes the Crosby station, the plan works, but Toad is diverted back onto the main line after a points failure.

Meanwhile, Oliver is racing to Toad's aid. Toad and the trucks speed past Henry and are nearing a bridge under repairs. Luckily, the workmen there have been warned about the runaway and divert Toad onto an old siding leading straight into a muddy pond. Although filthy, Toad is relieved that he has finally been stopped. Oliver arrives and jokes about the situation. That night, Toad speaks to Oliver, saying he is sorry if he caused him embarrassment. 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. Toad now appreciates seeing everything from behind.




  • 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 reused twice, in Thomas the Jet Engine and the original version of Rheneas and the Roller Coaster.
  • A rare picture shows Oliver passing through Tidmouth Hault, marking its last appearance in the series.
  • 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 station's last appearance to date, not counting being mentioned in Gordon Runs Dry.
    • The last episode to feature W&LLR trucks with faces.
    • The final appearance of the bridge at the bottom of Gordon's Hill
  • 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.
  • The narrator said James is pulling a long slow train, but it's not long or slow.
  • 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.
  • Despite his appearance in the episode, Toad does not appear in the nameboard sequence at the end of the episode in the Japanese dub.
  • Toby's Shed from the first series and the barn Thomas crashed into in Bye George! can be seen when James is puffing along the Main Line.


  • 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.
  • At the beginning of the episode, the tracks ends behind Wellsworth.
  • A string can be seen when Toad goes out of the siding.
  • Before Toad switches to another 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.
  • After Toad avoids James, a works coach moves from in front of the points to behind the points.
  • When Toad is diverted into the Crosby yard, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner of the P.O.V. 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 derails.
  • When Toad swerves away from the buffers and back onto the main line, what appears to be an unmodified Märklin chassis 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Oliver's trucks keep changing throughout the duration of the episode.
  • For most of the chase sequence, Toad only has one tail lamp.
  • Henry is shocked long before Toad passes him.
  • 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 Callan.


  • 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: US: Oh my goodness! / UK: EYYOIIIKES!!!
  • 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 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

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Ocupado Reversão
Chinese 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
Polish Cała Wstecz
Romanian Cu Toată Viteza Înapoi
Russian Задом наперед
Serbian Vožnja unazad
Slovak Zaneprázdnený cúvaním
Slovenian Vožnja vzvratno
Spanish En Reversa y no a la Inversa
Swedish Paddys dröm
Thai โท้ดขอวิ่งถอยดีกว่า
Welsh Yn Ôl ac Ymlaen

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