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- “And what do you say?"
"Oh, the indignity!"
"I mean thank you. Thank you, Edward!"
"You're welcome, Gordon. Any time.”
- ―Edward and Gordon
Old Reliable Edward is the first episode of the eighteenth series.
Edward is an old engine and is teased a lot, especially by Gordon who calls Edward unreliable. But the Fat Controller knows that Edward is a really useful engine.
One day, Gordon is going up his hill when he sees something red blowing beside the track. Believing it to be a danger signal, Gordon stops. On closer inspection, it is actually a red pair of trousers. Gordon feels foolish and tries to pull away, but he cannot start on the steep hill with his heavy express coaches. Meanwhile, at Wellsworth Station, Edward is flagged down by the stationmaster who states that Gordon is stuck on the hill, so Edward heads off to give him a push.
Back at the hill, Gordon is waiting impatiently for Edward to arrive. While he waits, he gets teased by both Emily and Thomas, though with the latter, he makes the mistake of revealing the reason he stopped. When Edward finally arrives, Gordon is very angry and calls Edward old and slow. Despite this, Edward manages to push Gordon to the summit of the hill. Gordon then races away without even saying “thank you” to Edward. Later on, Edward meets up with Thomas and complains about Gordon's attitude. Thomas decides that it is time for the big engine to be taught a lesson.
That night in the sheds, all of the engines are laughing about what had happened to Gordon that day, bringing more laughter once Thomas adds in the red trousers. Edward says that Gordon needed him to push him to the top of the hill. Gordon insists that he did not need Edward at all. Thomas decides to put his plan into action and bets Gordon that he cannot go faster than him. All the engines gasp and think that Thomas is very silly for thinking he can go faster than Gordon. Even Gordon thinks it is unfair and says that he will have no problem following Thomas across the island, going as far as giving him a ten minute head start.
As agreed, Thomas and Gordon meet at Knapford. Thomas leaves before Gordon and starts to puff along the main line. It is not long before Clarabel sees Gordon approach on the other line. Annie and Clarabel are sure Gordon is about to pass them, but Thomas switches onto Gordon's line. Gordon is not impressed by Thomas' speed and orders him to move back to the other line. Thomas objects to switch tracks and Gordon has no choice but to slowly follow Thomas towards the hill.
When they reach Gordon's Hill, Thomas slows down even more. Eventually, Gordon is going so slow that he stops and he cannot budge. Thomas' plan has worked. Thomas carries on his way while Edward pulls up next to Gordon. This time, it is Edward's turn to call Gordon unreliable for always sticking on his hill. Edward goes to puff away, but Gordon calls after him, asking for a push. Edward says that Gordon would not want to rely on such an old and unreliable engine to help him. As Edward disappears over the top of the hill, Gordon apologises for teasing Edward and promises to never do it again. Edward thinks Gordon has learned his lesson and so he agrees to give Gordon a push. Gordon even says “thank you” afterwards.
- Annie and Clarabel
- The Wellsworth stationmaster
- The Schoolchildren
- Toby (cameo)
- Salty (cameo)
- The Teacher (cameo)
- The Blond-haired Boy (cameo)
- Dowager Hatt's Friends (cameo)
- The Great Composer (cameo)
- Headkeeper Jack (cameo)
- The Female Puppet Show Entertainer (cameo)
- Big Mickey (faceless, cameo)
- Sir Topham Hatt (mentioned)
- Ben Small as Thomas
- Keith Wickham as Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy and the Wellsworth Stationmaster
- Teresa Gallagher as Emily, Annie and Clarabel
- Martin Sherman as Thomas and Percy
- William Hope as Edward
- Kerry Shale as Henry, Gordon and James
- Jules de Jongh as Emily
- Teresa Gallagher as Annie and Clarabel
- Keith Wickham as the Wellsworth Stationmaster
- This episode is similar to the sixth series episode, Edward the Very Useful Engine.
- This is the first episode directed by David Stoten.
- This is the first episode narrated by Ane Barmen in Norway.
- Most of the television guides in the UK list this episode's title as "Ole Reliable Edward."
- Edward's Branch Line is mentioned for the first time since the third season.
- The episode's American air date coincides with the 70th Anniversary of The Railway Series when The Three Railway Engines was first published.
- In the Norwegian version, as Edward enters Wellsworth station, the English audio of the children cheering is heard.
- The ocean usually seen in the distance at the bottom of Gordon's Hill is missing in this episode.
- When Edward begins to push Gordon up the hill the first time, Thomas has Edward's whistle sound.
- After Gordon gets stuck on the hill the second time, in the shot following Thomas, all the lines behind Gordon are clear; in the next shot, Edward is seen pulling up besides Gordon.
- When Gordon is asking for Edward's help to be pushed up the hill, Edward is next to Gordon, but as Edward puffs away laughing, a first person perceptive from Edward shows him on Gordon's line.
- After the trousers land on Gordon's buffer beam, they move independently on Gordon - so when he moves up or down, the trousers do not.
- In the closing shot, Edward's steam appears not to disperse in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
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