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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the UK book, the VHS/DVD, the US book, the magazine story or the mini book.

“Why, 'tis a floatin' basket with folk in it."
"Whatever will they dream up next?”
―Donald and Douglas

James and the Red Balloon is the fifteenth episode of the sixth series.


It is summer holiday time on the Island of Sodor and holidaymakers are coming to visit the island. Thomas picks up a special to take to Dryaw Airfield; he tells Percy it is a balloon which Percy thinks it is a party balloon, but Thomas corrects him, saying that it is a special balloon and chuffs away.

Thomas arrives at the airfield and the hot air balloon is starting to blow. James arrives and Thomas explains that the balloon is for taking holidaymakers around the island, but James is jealous because taking holidaymakers is a job for engines. He asks what will happen if the balloon takes their passengers and what will become of them. After hearing this, Thomas is not excited about the balloon anymore. The balloon is then seen from everyone on the island.

Later that day, Thomas and James are waiting at a crossing talking about the hot air balloon which ends up falling on top of James after it runs out of hot air. James, petrified, lets off a huge burst of steam, which invariably blows the balloon up again. His driver cheers for him, but Thomas and James are upset that it will eventually take their passengers.

James arrives at Dryaw where a lot of visitors and the Fat Controller are waiting. He praises James who is still upset about how the balloon will take their passengers. The Fat Controller laughs saying that he is right, but also tells him that the holidaymakers will need a ride home in a train. James is relieved, as the engines are now busier than ever taking holidaymakers to and from the airfield for balloon rides. Whenever James sees the red balloon, he whistles hello and sometimes when he is asleep, he wishes he can fly too, just like the red balloon.




  • This story may be loosely adapted from the mini book by Christopher Awdry, James and the Balloons.
  • This marks George's only appearance in the sixth series.
  • This is the first of the six episodes of the sixth series re-narrated by Michael Brandon in the US and Michael Angelis in the UK with music composed by Robert Hartshorne for the Series 9 airings.
  • A faceless Toad model can be seen in a rare promotional picture.
  • In April 2017, a ride of the same name of this episode was opened up at Drayton Manor Theme Park.
  • The events of this episode were referenced by James in the twentieth series episode, Hugo and the Airship.
  • This is the last episode Donald and Douglas have American accents in the US dub. However, in Michael Brandon's re-dub, he gives the twins Scottish accents.
  • The scene where the balloon lands on James is sped up.


  • When Percy pulls up next to Thomas, the top of the set can be seen.
  • The end of the tracks crossing the level crossing are visible, more so for James' side.
  • The footage of the balloon collapsing on top of James is reversed, as the smoke goes inward.
  • In many scenes, James' crew is missing from his cab.
  • In some shots at Dryaw, the tracks running through lead to bushes at both ends.
  • The tracks under the bridge in the last shot lead to bushes.
  • When Percy asks "What have you got there?" in the widescreen versions, Thomas does not have a face mark.
  • In the original US dub, Alec Baldwin does not even attempt a Scottish accent for Donald and Douglas' voices. This was later corrected in Michael Brandon's re-narration.
  • In a scene when the balloon is falling on James, his cab roof is out of place.
  • When the narrator says, "Duck gazed at it for so long," the balloon is static and not moving.
  • In the original UK dub, Michael Angelis accidentally uses a Scouse accent for Thomas at the start of the level crossing scene.
  • Douglas' coupling is sticking outward when he asks, "Whatever will they dream up next?"
  • Thomas is tilted at the level crossing.
  • Douglas's eyes are misaligned, and do not quite move at same time.


Donald: [about the balloon] Why, it's a floating basket with Folks (People) in it!
Douglas: Whatever will they dream up next?

James: Passengers should travel on trains, not in silly balloons!


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 詹姆士与红气球
Czech Jakub a červený balón
Danish Den Røde Ballon
Dutch James en de Rode Ballon
Hungarian James és a Piros Léggömb
Italian James e il Pallone Rosso
Japanese ジェームスとあかいききゅう
Korean 제임스의 걱정
Norwegian James og den Røde Ballongen
Polish Kuba i Czerwony Balon
Romanian James şi Balonul cel Roşu
Russian Джеймс и красный шарик
Serbian Džejms i Crveni Balon
Slovenian Jakob in Rdeči Balon
Swedish Den Röda Ballongen
Welsh Balwn i James

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