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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the US/UK DVD, the Thai DVD, the 2012 magazine story or the 2014 magazine story.

“Oh my! How splendid! A hard working engine with his sheep and sheepdog straight from the fields! That's the photograph I need for the front page!”
―The Photographer

Muddy Matters is the fifteenth episode of the sixteenth series.


It is the day of the Farmer's Fair on Sodor. The Fat Controller arrives at Tidmouth Sheds to give the engines their duties for the day. One engine is to take Farmer McColl's sheep to the fair and that engine will have his photograph taken for the daily newspaper. When James hears this, he immediately volunteers for the job. The Fat Controller agrees and tells James that the fair starts at teatime and he must not be late.

Farmer McColl is waiting as James arrives at the farm. He tells James to make sure that his sheepdog, Katie and his sheep are kept clean so that they will be featured in the newspaper. Farmer McColl goes on to tell James to take the fastest and flattest track to the fair so as not to upset the sheep. James promises to keep the animals clean and races away.

Soon, James arrives at a junction. There are two tracks leading to the fairground; one that is wet and muddy and one that is dry, but old and bumpy. James remembers that Farmer McColl had told him to take the flat tracks, but doing so will make him, Katy, and the sheep dirty. So James decides to take the dry, bumpy track. The sheep are bounced around and, unbeknownst to James, the latch on the cattle wagon slides open.

At Maron, James meets Emily. James stops to boast about his special and the sheep run out of the wagon and along the station platform. Emily points it out to James, and James can only watch as the sheep clatter through a gap in the fence and run down the road. Katie gives chase, but James calls her back as he wants to keep her as clean as possible. James sets off to find the sheep. He soon finds them eating grass at the bottom of a nearby field. He is then faced with a dilemma; the fastest track to the field is wet and muddy. James decides it will be best to take the long, dry track so that he can stay clean for the photograph.

After quite some time, he pulls up on the track closest to the field. He is just in time to see the last of the sheep walking away. Katie barks, but James demands her to stay in his cab so that she will not get dirty. James soon finds the sheep again in another field. Katie barks and James is pleased; he thinks if Katie barks, the sheep will come to her. The sheep do go to James and Katie. James, who is delighted that his plan has worked, blows his whistle. This scares the sheep, and they race through the mud in the field. James is very sad; he had promised to keep the sheep clean and deliver them to the fair, but now they are dirty and running away. Thomas and Percy pull up next to James on their way to the fair. Percy tells James that Farmer McColl is waiting, very excited to see his sheep in the show. James realises it does not matter whether or not they are dirty, they just have to be there. James orders Katie to round up the sheep and meet him back at the McColl Farm. Katie runs off through the mud and James races to the farm, puffing straight through muddy puddles.

He arrives at the McColl Farm looking very dirty. Katie has rounded up the sheep and James' driver herds them back into the cattle truck and locks the door. James sets off down the fast and wet track to the fairground.

At last, James arrives at the Farmer's Fair. The Fat Controller is surprised to see James looking so dirty, but the photographer is happy; a photograph of a hard-working engine and sheep and sheepdog straight from the fields is just what he was hoping for. James is delighted and the photographer takes a photograph of James, his crew, Katie, the sheep, the Fat Controller and his assistants and Farmer McColl, which makes it onto the front page of the Sodor Gazette.





US and CAN


  • One of the pictures in the office at the end of the episode is of Victor from Percy's Parcel. The other is of Thomas from Creaky Cranky.
  • The scene where James is told what to do by the Fat Controller was shown on The X Factor spin-off show The Xtra Factor on 21st October 2012 and narrated by Gary Barlow.
  • Emily gains a second composite coach, increasing her rake to three coaches.
  • The music that plays after James goes over the bumpy track is similar to the ending music from the 1990 Christmas movie, Home Alone.
  • This is the last episode written by Max Allen.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of several characters:
  • Reused animation from Wonky Whistle is used on the fact that the human characters that appear at the fair are all in the same positions as they were in that episode.


  • When James takes the bumpy and long tracks, the points are set against him.
  • Two of Emily's coaches are out of the platform area at Maron.
  • For most of the episode, the Sodor Gazette is referred to as the Sodor Daily.


In Other Languages

Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese A via enlameada
Chinese Mandarin 浑身泥巴也很好
French Gare aux tâches!
Galician Asuntos Lamacentos
German Bloß nicht schmutzig werden
Hungarian Sáros ügy
Italian La Foto del Giornale
Japanese どろんこジェームス
Korean 진흙탕은 싫어요
Latin American Spanish Asuntos Lodosos
Norwegian Sølete spesial
Polish Kłopoty z błotem
Romanian Noroiul Contează
Russian Проказницы овечки

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