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“Little green piggy in the middle!"
"Little red piggy in the middle!”
―'Arry and Bert teasing Percy and James

Middle Engine is the fourteenth episode of the sixth series.

Plot

The engines enjoy their work, except they don't like being a "middle engine", pushing trucks in front and pulling trucks behind. One day, Percy is collecting coal trucks from the Smelters Yard to take to the coaling plant, but 'Arry and Bert play a trick on him by shunting trucks in front of him, making him a "middle engine." Percy has to go slowly between the rakes of trucks and James teases him by calling him a "slowcoach." Percy has to shunt the front trucks onto the tipper for the coal to be dumped.

Percy knows it is against the rules for an engine to go on the tipper's loading ramp while it is operating. But when his driver and fireman leave, Henry arrives to collect some coal trucks, unaware that Percy is there and accidentally bumps him onto the loading ramp. Percy is then lifted up and brought back down with his coal dumped out. The yard manager is cross with Percy for causing confusion and delay and reports the incident to the Fat Controller.

That night at the sheds, James returns to see the Fat Controller scold Percy for the incident. Although Percy tries to admit that it wasn't his fault and that it was because Arry and Bert made him a middle engine, the Fat Controller doesn't care and restricts him to shunting in the yard as punishment. James quietly brags that he can handle 'Arry and Bert, but is heard by the Fat Controller who sends him to the smelters yard to do Percy's work the next day (to James' dismay).

At first, James does not let 'Arry and Bert's bullying get in his way and thinks he has put them in their place. However, once it is time to take the train out, 'Arry plays the same trick they did on Percy the day before. Not wanting to be like Percy or a "middle engine," James refuses to move, so Percy has to pull him with his train to the docks. Percy then jokes that James is learning to be a "middle engine," leaving James angry and embarrassed as he tries to cover himself in steam.

Characters

Locations

Trivia

  • The Coaling Plant manager has a Bronx accent in the American narration.
  • Scrap models of Thomas, Gordon, James, Toad, City of Truro, Lorry 2 and Donald or Douglas are seen.
  • This episode marks several things for 'Arry and Bert:
    • The first time 'Arry is referred to by name.
    • Bert's first speaking role.
    • The first time where both of them have speaking roles.
    • Their only speaking roles in the sixth series.
  • This is the second episode where a character says "confusion and delay" after the fifth series episode, Oliver's Find, but the fourth episode where the phrase is used overall. In the fifth series episode, Cranky Bugs and the sixth series episode, The World's Strongest Engine, it was said by the narrator.
  • In the US dub, the same singular recording of the line "coal" is used throughout the episode. This is most noticeable when Percy is approaching the tipper.
  • CITV repeated this episode on 28 February 2003, alongside the final episode of Ripley and Scuff. It was the last episode introduced by a CiTV presenter in the series history.

Goofs

  • In the first close-ups of 'Arry and Bert in widescreen, James is standing in between them; this is because footage from later into the episode is used. James cannot be seen next to Bert on 4:3 centre-cut prints of this scene.
  • In the shot after Percy gets stuck in the middle, 'Arry's eyes are wonky.
  • In the shot after Henry arrives, Percy is pushed onto the ramp. In the next shot, he is pushed onto the ramp again.
  • When Percy gets pushed onto the ramp, he is not tethered to it, but he is in the next scene.
  • Percy's side rods continue to change position at random when he is on the loading ramp. They also change positions when he collects James and the trucks.
  • When 'Arry and Bert roll alongside James, James and Bert's eyes are wonky.
  • Percy's steam platform is visible when he leaves with James and the trucks.
  • In a close-up of Percy being tipped over, the rails underneath him disappear.
  • In some of the scenes of Percy being lifted, his wheels do not have counterweights.
  • James said he would not move, but in the shots when Percy is pulling him and the trucks, steam is coming out of James' funnel as if he was moving.
  • In a rare photo, Henry has two coal trucks behind him instead of three.
  • When Percy buffers up to James, the sound effect come in about a second late.
  • The the close up of the manager he has a hole on his right arm (viewers left) which is also seen again towards the end of the episode.
  • When Percy is lowered back onto the ground:
    • His eyes briefly jitter.
    • His lamp is tilted downward a bit.
    • His driver has some fingerprint stains on his body.

Quotes

  • Percy: Oh bother!
  • 'Arry: Little green piggy in the middle!

'Arry shunting trucks in front of Percy _______________________________________________________________________________________

  • The Fat Controller: I am very disappointed with you Percy, you know it's against the rules to go on the tipper's loading ramp
  • Percy: Sorry sir, but it's wasn't my fault, it's because those diesels made me a middle engine
  • The Fat Controller: Nevertheless, you will shunt trucks/freight cars in the yard until I can get to the bottom of this

The Fat Controller scolding Percy for going up on the loading ramp _______________________________________________________________________________________

  • 'Arry: Hello, James. Come to learn a thing or two from those who know?
  • James: Just get my trucks ready and stay out of my way!
  • Bert: Yes, sir!

'Arry and Bert harassing James _______________________________________________________________________________________

  • 'Arry: Little red piggy in the middle!
  • Bert: Just like Percy!
  • James: I am NOT like Percy. I am not a middle engine and I'm not moving!
  • Narrator: And he didn't.

'Arry and Bert shunting trucks in front of James _______________________________________________________________________________________

  • Manager: Right on time! But what is that big red engine doing in the middle?
  • Percy: Learning.
  • Manager: Learning what?
  • Percy: Learning to be a middle engine!

Manager wondering about James being in the middle of the train

Merchandise

In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 中型火车头
Czech Uprostřed
Danish Midterlokomotivet
Dutch De Middelste Locomotief
Hungarian A Középső Mozdony
Italian La Locomotiva Intermedia
Japanese まんなかのきかんしゃ
Korean 중간에 끼면?
Norwegian Midt i Mellom
Polish Środkowa Lokomotywa
Romanian Locomotivă de Mijloc
Russian Паровоз посередине
Serbian Srednja Lokomotiva
Slovenian Lokomotiva na Sredi
Swedish Mellanloket
Welsh Yr Injan Ganol

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