- “This is absurd! None of us know what job Dowager Hatt wants us to do next!”
”We’re all stuck here, waiting for her to finish pruning her pelargoniums!”
- ―James and Henry
Dowager Hatt's Busy Day is the third episode of the twenty-first series.
In the early morning at Tidmouth Sheds, the engines are ready for work. But then the Fat Controller arrives with a nasty cold. Luckily, his mother, Dowager Hatt arrives, scolding her son for coming to run the railway while he is ill, and despite having no knowledge or experience with running railways, decides to substitute for him.
After Dowager Hatt orders her son’s valets to take him home, she starts the day’s work by giving the engines their jobs, but she orders Thomas to collect her new hat from Brendam Docks rather than pulling Annie and Clarabel on his branch line, tasking Emily with the job, who had to take scrap to the scrap yard. Dowager Hatt tasks Gordon with Emily's job, sending Edward to collect a cake for her friend Lady Toffington, Percy to pull Gordon's express, and the other engines to do some odd jobs such as balloons, animals, etc. This creates a lot of confusion and delay, as many of the engines end up stuck at Knapford Station Yard.
Emily tells Dowager Hatt that there are certain engines that have their certain jobs and other engines that do not. With Emily's help, Dowager Hatt puts everything right. She puts Gordon back on express duty and sorts the engines back to their regular duties.
In the afternoon, the Fat Controller soon gets back from resting, feeling a lot better. He was so impressed to see that his mother has run his railway very smoothly with Emily's help. However, Thomas arrives with the hat (after waiting at the docks all day), causing Dowager Hatt to push her son into his office to have a tea break before he can question Thomas. Emily is glad that everyone is back doing their proper jobs, except for Philip who is working at the Ulfstead Mine as the lights go off leaving him in the dark.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Dowager Hatt
- Toby (cameo)
- Donald and Douglas (cameo)
- Diesel (cameo)
- 'Arry (cameo)
- Salty (cameo)
- Den (cameo)
- Paxton (cameo)
- Clarabel (cameo)
- Slip Coaches (cameo)
- A Workman (cameo)
- The Teacher (cameo)
- One of Dowager Hatt's Friends (cameo)
- The Great Railway Show Judge (cameo)
- Big Mickey (faceless, cameo)
- Victor (portrait cameo)
- Knapford Station Yard
- Sir Topham Hatt's Office
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Brendam Docks
- Sodor Shipping Company
- Gordon's Hill
- Ulfstead Mine
- Sodor Steamworks (portrait)
- Topham Hall (mentioned)
- Crocks Scrap Yard (mentioned)
- Vicarstown (mentioned)
- John Hasler as Thomas
- Keith Wickham as Edward, Henry, Gordon, the Fat Controller and Dowager Hatt
- Rob Rackstraw as James
- Nigel Pilkington as Percy
- Teresa Gallagher as Emily and Annie
- Rasmus Hardiker as Philip
- Matt Wilkinson as Cranky
- Joseph May as Thomas
- William Hope as Edward
- Kerry Shale as Henry and Gordon
- Rob Rackstraw as James
- Christopher Ragland as Percy
- Jules de Jongh as Emily
- Rasmus Hardiker as Philip
- Teresa Gallagher as Annie
- Glenn Wrage as Cranky
- Keith Wickham as Sir Topham Hatt and Dowager Hatt
- Going by production order, this is the sixth episode of the twenty-first series and the 500th episode of the show.
- A large rail section has been built at Brendam Docks between Cranky and Big Mickey, which foreshadows the arrival of Carly when she is introduced later in the series.
- Several references to past episodes are made:
- The red balloon on James' flatbed may be a reference to the fifteenth series episode, Up, Up and Away!
- The globe from the eighteenth series episode, Emily Saves the World, is seen being pulled by Salty through Knapford.
- Toby was seen pulling two trucks, each carrying a giraffe, which may be a reference to the fourteenth series episode, Thomas' Tall Friend.
- When Dowager Hatt first speaks to Gordon, she calls him "Geoffrey," to which Gordon responds with "Who's Geoffrey?" This is a reference to the nineteenth series episode of the same name, which Lee Pressman also wrote. She also calls Gordon "Gerald," which is Gator's real name.
- Dowager Hatt calls Emily "Emerald", which is likely a reference to the sing-along song Emily (song).
- The episode's plot is similar to the tenth series episode, The Green Controller.
- This episode marks the first of several things:
- The first episode where Rob Rackstraw gives James a British accent in the UK dub.
- Sukhmani Kaur's first episode as assistant production manager.
- Gavin Ebedes' first episode as supervising editor.
- Eddie Chandler's first episode as associate editor.
- Alan Kennedy's first episode as director of post-production.
- The first episode to have the writer's name in all uppercase letters.
- The first episode since the sixteenth series episode Thomas Toots the Crows where Den appears without Dart.
- In the Nick Jr USA broadcast of the episode, it is paired with Stuck in Gear.
- A shortened version of the episode, narrated by Joseph May as Thomas, can be found on the official YouTube channel and the Nick Jr website.
- Both Donald and Douglas do not have footplate crews.
- Emily’s brake pipe changes positions in between shots of her talking to Dowager Hatt and the scene where Percy is pulling the express up Gordon’s Hill.
- When the engines are stuck at the junction, Donald has Duck's whistle sound at one point and Henry is missing his leading wheels.
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