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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the colouring book or the Buzz Book.

“Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch! Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch, all on a Monday morning!”
―The boys singing rudely at Gordon.

Off the Rails, retitled Gordon Takes a Dip in American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Gordon the Big Engine.


One morning, Gordon is resting on a siding while noting to himself that being an important engine can sometimes be very tiring. Henry suddenly pulls up and wakes Gordon rudely with his whistle. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine like him who has never had an accident should be respected. Percy arrives next and asks if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon denies it, saying that those things could happen to any engine, unlike Henry who came off the rails.

It is Henry's day to take the Express. As he prepares to leave, Gordon warns him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. After Henry leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but is soon awakened by his driver who tells him that there is a special train coming which they are to pull. Gordon is cross after learning it is trucks as he would rather take coaches.

Gordon's fire is unable to burn right away, so Edward comes to push him to the turntable to be turned around. Gordon complains the whole way and Edward rebukes him as they reach the turntable. By now, the movement has gotten Gordon's fire burning nicely and making steam. As the turntable turns, Gordon is so cross that he is willing to do anything to get out of taking the special, regardless of the consequences. When the table gets halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it, but is unable to stop and slides down some old rails into a marshy ditch. Gordon is horrified and shouts for someone to get him out, but his crew sternly refuse, telling him that he is stuck.

You're stuck, you silly great engine. Don't you understand that?

In his office, the Fat Controller receives a phone call from Gordon's crew who tells him about what has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he decides to have Edward take the special train instead and leave Gordon where he is and have him rescued later. Meanwhile, some little boys come by, see Gordon's predicament and tease him with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours and it is not until late at night that a rescue team finally comes. After extensive work removing his tender and preparing a road of sleepers to keep his wheels out of the mud, cables are hooked behind him and then he is pulled out by James and Henry. Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.




  • The telephone conversation is a sped up version of the conversation between the policeman and the Fat Controller in Thomas in Trouble.
  • According to the boys' song, the events of this episode take place on a Monday.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so early American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line until George Carlin narrated the said episode in 1991.
  • A scrap model of Thomas can be seen beside the ditch.
  • When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, an engine's lights can be seen passing on the left. This is believed to be the Märklin engine.
  • In George Carlin's narration, the boys' song "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" has the same tune as the Mother Goose rhyme: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. This was the same thing with how Johnny Morris sang it when he was narrator for The Railway Series before the television series started. In Ringo Starr's narrations in both the UK and the US dubs, he sings the song in his own way.
  • In the UK version of the episode, Henry calls Gordon "fat face," but in the US narrations, he only calls him "lazybones" mainly due to the phrase, "fat face" being a term making fun of overweight and obese people.
  • In its original UK 1985 broadcast, this episode was paired with Down the Mine. However, early VHS releases have it paired with Dirty Objects, as do Norwegian and Swedish broadcasts.
  • This is the only first series episode in which Henry does not appear in his old shape, even through stock footage.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Knapford Sheds until the seventh series episode, Something Fishy.


  • In the opening scene, Gordon's front bogie wheels are slightly derailed and his buffers are crooked.
  • In a close-up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot it is suddenly dangling downwards.
  • Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tak under his feet.
  • When Gordon snaps "Trucks?! Pah!" a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a large gap is visible through his left eye.
  • When the boys sing the camera shakes.
  • When Gordon is getting pulled out of the ditch, his bufferbeam hits a wooden post.
  • In a rare picture, several workmen have blu-tak on their feet.
  • James' drive wheels move slightly then stop when he pulls Gordon out of the ditch.
  • The narrator states Henry and James rescued Gordon: however James is the only one seen.
  • It is unknown how James and Henry were able to reverse so far when they rescued Gordon as there are no tracks leading to the turntable opposite from the ditch.
  • Due to portions of the script being taken word for word from the original book, the narrator says Gordon had strong ropes fastened to his back end, but the close-up of James reveals it to be a chain.
  • In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon used in Percy Runs Away and later in Down the Mine attached to his middle lamp iron, but in the close-up, he has a chain attached to his front coupling hook instead. However, when Gordon is on the turntable, James has the rescue cable on him again.
  • When Gordon says "I won't go, I won't go," there is steam coming from his funnel, even though it was said that his fire would not burn right away.
  • In Ringo Starr's US narration, when Gordon and his driver are talking about the special train, there is an echo in the background. This is audio from the UK version.
  • Throughout the episode, Henry's top feed is positioned between his first and second boiler bands, instead of his second and third.
  • In the George Carlin version, when Percy asks about Gordon's previous mishaps, Carlin as Percy says "Burnt" instead of "Burst."


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Gordon, o Sabotador
Chinese 脱轨
Croatian Izvan Tračnica
Czech Mimo Koleje
Danish Den Store Afsporing
Dutch Van de Rails Af
Finnish Kiskot Putoaminen
French Le Déraillement
German Entgleist
Hebrew מחוץ למסילה
Hungarian A Vonatsilkás
Italian La Locomotiva Brontolona
Japanese ゴードンみぞにはまる
Norwegian Ut av Sporet
Polish Wykolejenie
Romanian Pe Langă Linie
Russian Крушение поезда
Serbian Van Šina
Slovak Mimo Koľaj
Slovenian Gorazd Iztiri
Spanish El Plan de Gordon
Swedish Ur Spår
Thai กอร์ดอนตกน้ำ
Ukrainian Зійшов з рейок
Welsh Cadw ar y Cledrau

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