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“If you can't behave, I shall take away your red coat and have you painted blue.”
―The Fat Controller to James

James and the Coaches, retitled James Learns a Lesson in American releases, is the eighth episode of the first series. It is based on the stories James and the Top Hat and James and the Bootlace from the Railway Series book James the Red Engine.


James is settling into his new life on the Island of Sodor quite nicely. The Fat Controller tells him that he can take coaches and trucks easily, but must learn from his mistakes. Remembering a nasty accident with trucks on his first day, James knows just what he means by that.

James' first job of the day is to take a passenger train with Edward, who warns him not to bump the coaches. People have arrived on the platform to admire James, who gets overexcited and lets off steam without warning, causing a shower of water to fall on the Fat Controller's brand new top hat. It is time for the train to leave and James tries to get out as fast as he can, which bothers Edward and the coaches. This causes trouble at the first station stop when James causes two of the coaches to run beyond the platform forcing the train to reverse to let off passengers. However, it seems that no one knows what happened with the Fat Controller, to James' relief.

Next, James and Edward stop at the Junction on Thomas' new branch line where the tank engine greets them before leaving. The train later passes the field from James' accident which is now cleaned up. Finally, the journey ends and after unloading the passengers the two engines start home, with James still wondering what the Fat Controller will have to say about his top hat.

The next morning, the Fat Controller visits James in the shed and warns him that unless he behaves, he will be painted blue as punishment. James hates the idea of losing his red coat, however rather than calming down, he gets very angry and takes it out on the coaches while bringing them to the station, bumping them as if they were trucks. He grumbles about having to fetch them on his own, unlike Gordon. To make matters worse for James, none of the passengers dare go near him. Which only worsens his mood.

James pulls the coaches very roughly and runs too fast for comfort, causing the coaches to force him to stop. The driver determines that James' rough treatment has caused a leak in a coach's brake pipe, and his only recommendation is patching the leak with newspaper and a leather bootlace. Since none of the crew have a bootlace, the guard proceeds to ask each of the passengers and at last finds a man with a leather bootlace, who refuses to give it up. The guard explains that the train cannot continue without the repair, making the other passengers very cross at both the railway and the man for stranding them. Under pressure, the man finally hands over his bootlaces. The damage is temporarily repaired, and James, knowing that he is going to be in big trouble with the Fat Controller, carefully proceeds on his way and makes sure never to bump the coaches again.




  • George Carlin's dub was not available on home video until 2002, when it was released on the Best of James VHS and DVD.
  • This is the last episode with a few things:
    • The last appearance of Henry's Tunnel until the fourth series episode, Henry and the Elephant, excluding a deleted scene from Bowled Out.
    • The last episode in Japan to feature Edward's original nameboard at the end.
    • The last episode in which The Terrahawks introduced for the series. Bonnie Langford then took over on 5th November 1984 before introducing all constituent programs, starting with Troublesome Trucks and James and the Express on 6th November.
  • After the narrator says "James was still wondering what the Fat Controller would have to say about his top hat," the sound of James' whistle is the same as used in Thomas and the Trucks when the Fat Controller asks Thomas what he is doing at Maron Station.
  • The events of this episode were referenced in the twenty-second series episode, An Engine of Many Colours.
  • The unspecified Märklin engine can be seen at the start of the episode behind Edward at Knapford Station.
  • The guard in this episode has a beard that strongly resembles Ringo Starr's.
  • This is the first episode in which Henry and Gordon do not appear, although Gordon is mentioned by James at one point.


  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas leaves the junction.
  • When James is getting his branch line coaches ready, the brake one is the second in the train. When James gets the fifth coach, the brake one is in the middle and has been turned around. When James leaves Knapford, the brake coach is again the second one in the train and has been turned around.
  • When Edward and James pass the field where James had his accident with some trucks in the previous episode, the narrator said that the fence was mended and the cows were back again, but there is no fence.
  • The goods shed side of Knapford is incorrectly assembled during the shot of the coaches at the platform; the two M-shaped concrete pillar sections are directly up against each other without the intermediate horizontal member.
  • James' fireman is blond in the beginning, but when his crew wonder how to fix the leak in the pipe, they all have dark hair.
  • In the first close-up of the Fat Controller, ink is visible on his right hand.
  • When James leaves after the leather bootlace incident, James' puffing sounds are exactly the same, but James' speed changes.
  • In the close-up of James' driver and fireman inside his cab, the hill beside James is nowhere to be seen.
  • The last two coaches in line on James' train are Annie and Clarabel.
  • When James and Edward finish their journey their their tenders are crooked a bit.
  • The narrator states that the previous episode was James' first day, but James had been seen working on Sodor every episode prior.
  • Edward's eyes jolt a bit when James assembles the train.
  • James's left eye jolts forward a bit after his driver states to ask the passengers for a bootlace.
  • Some small scale figurines have sticky tac under their feet.
  • When the passengers argue, some of the coaches roofs are damaged.


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Name Published Publisher Highlights Photo

Magazine stories

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Conserto
Chinese Mandarin 詹姆士和车厢
Croatian Jurica i Putnik Kola
Czech James a Vagóny
Danish James og Passagervogne
Dutch James en de Personenwagons
Finnish Jaska ja Matkustajavaunut
French James et les Wagons
German James und die Personenwagen
Greek Τζίμι, το πιο Δυνατό Τρενάκι
Hebrew ג'יימס והקרונות
Hungarian James és a Vagonok
Italian Sbagliando s'Impara
Japanese ジェームスのあやまち
Korean 제임스가 깨달은 일 (DVD Acadamy)
제임스의 실수 (JEI TV)
Latin American Spanish James Aprende una Lección
Norwegian James og Passasjervognene
Polish Kuba i Wagony
Romanian James şi Vagoanele
Romansh Giachen e las carossas
Russian На ошибках учатся
Serbian James i Vagoni
Slovak James a Vagóny
Slovenian Jakob in Potniški Vagoni
Swedish James och Personvagnarna
Turkish James'in Hayat Dersi
Welsh James a'r Cerbydau

Home Media Releases


DVD Packs



  • James Learns a Lesson and Other Stories (Ringo Starr's dub)
  • Best of James (George Carlin's dub)
  • The Early Years (UK dub)

VHS/DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets






  • Thomas and Gordon and other Stories




DVD Packs