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“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.



One morning, Gordon is resting his eyes at the station while noting to himself that being an important engine can sometimes be very tiring and that he should keep up his appearance too. Henry suddenly pulls up and wakes Gordon rudely. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine who has never had an accident should be respected. Percy arrives next and innocently asks if jammed whistles and burst safety valves are accidents. Gordon denies it, saying that they 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 reminds him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. When Henry leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but then his driver wakes him telling him that they have been asked to pull a special train. Gordon asks if the special is coaches or trucks. When the driver tells him it is trucks, Gordon is angry at the idea of having to take 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 that stops him from taking the special regardless of the consequences. When the table turns halfway round, Gordon moves forward in an attempt to jam it, but he is unable to stop himself and slides down some old unused rails into a marshy ditch. Gordon is horrified and shouts for someone to get him out but his crew sternly rebuke him and tell 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 driver, who tells him all about what has happened. Looking out his window, he sees Gordon in the ditch and orders to have Edward take the special train instead and leave Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by, see Gordon's predicament and start teasing him with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours and no rescue team comes until late at night. The work crews remove his tender, lift him up with the Breakdown Train's Cranes and make a rode of sleepers under his wheels to keep him from the mud. Strong cables are fastened to his tender hitch and James and Henry pull him out.

Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Gordon the Big Engine.
  • The telephone conversation is a sped up version of 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 narration, Henry called Gordon "Lazy Bones" instead of "Fat Face".
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so early American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line.
  • 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.
  • The boys' song, "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" is a similar tune to the Mother Goose rhyme: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.
  • On its original 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.


  • In the opening scene, Gordon's front bogie wheels are slightly derailed and his buffers are crooked.
  • When Henry comes up to Gordon and then leaves, Gordon's trailing wheels are derailed.
  • In a close-up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot as he rolls over to Gordon, it is suddenly dangling down.
  • Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tack under his feet.
  • When Gordon snaps "Trucks?! Pah!" a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • When Edward buffers up behind Gordon, the steam platform is easily noticeable.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a gap is visible through his left eye.
  • When Gordon puffs into the ditch, his face looks wonky and wires are visibly attached between his cab and tender.
  • When the boys sing, the camera shakes.
  • When Gordon is getting pulled out of the ditch, his bufferbeam snags a wooden post.
  • In a rare picture, several workmen have blu-tack on their feet.
  • James' drive wheels are not moving when he pulls Gordon out of the ditch.
  • The narrator states Henry and James rescued Gordon, but James is the only one seen.
  • 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 front, but in the close-up, he has a chain attached to his front 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 wouldn't burn and greenery appears instead of Knapford.
  • 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.


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
Korean 도랑에 빠진 고든
Norwegian Ut av Sporet
Polish Wykolejenie
Romanian Pe Langă Linie
Russian Крушение поезда
Serbian Van Šina
Slovak Mimo Koľaj
Slovenian Gorazd Iztiri
Spanish Fuera de los Rieles / El Plan de Gordon
Swedish Ur Spår
Thai กอร์ดอนตกน้ำ
Ukrainian Зійшов з рейок
Welsh Cadw ar y Cledrau

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