Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
Main Page

This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the magazine story.

“We had spoken of backing signals. They need extra special care, you know. Would you like me to explain?"
"No thank you, James. I know all about signals.”
―James and Percy

Percy and the Signal is the seventh episode of the second series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Percy the Small Engine.


Percy works in the yard and although he works hard, he can also be very cheeky and often plays jokes. One day, Percy is feeling particularly cheeky; he startles Gordon by telling him his train is ready, which makes Gordon think he is running late. Percy then pulls out to reveal a line of dirty trucks, which makes Gordon very cross. Gordon begins to think of a way to get back at him.

Next, Percy goes to James, and tells him that the Fat Controller had sent a message for James to stay in the shed until he comes to see him. James is delighted, thinking the Fat Controller wants him to pull a special and refuses to leave when his driver and fireman try to take him out. As a result, the other engines have to do James' work as well as their own, which makes them angry. Finally, an engine inspector arrives to find out why James will not leave his shed; James tells him about the message the Fat Controller supposedly sent. The inspector points out the Fat Controller could not have sent a message as he is away for a week. James is furious realising he was fooled and quickly leaves to find Percy, but Percy has disappeared. When the Fat Controller returns, he tells both engines off for causing trouble.


Sometime later, Percy is boasting to Gordon and James that he is taking trucks to Thomas' junction. He believes that the Fat Controller chose him because he is a Really Useful Engine, though James thinks it is simply to keep him out of the way. Gordon, realizing what route Percy is taking, indicates to James that they have a chance to give Percy a taste of his own medicine. They claim they were talking about being careful with the signals at the junction, especially "backing signals." Percy, keen to show off, claims that he knows all about signals, but worries as he has never heard of backing signals before.

Percy soon arrives at a signal set to "danger," but then sees its arm move to "line clear." Percy is surprised when it moves up instead of down, having never seen anything like it before, and guesses that it is one of the "backing signals" Gordon and James were discussing. Percy begins reversing, and his driver quickly stops him. Percy insists that it is a "backing signal" and tells him what Gordon and James had said. The driver tells Percy the truth, which makes him eager to leave before he is seen, but Gordon goes past and sees that Percy fell for the trick. Humiliated, Percy quickly and quietly finishes his work.

That night in the sheds, Gordon and James talk about nothing but signals; while they think it is funny, Percy thinks they are being very silly.




  • In the restored version, in the scene when the Fat Controller was cross with James and Percy, the close-up of Percy looking sad is cut out.
  • Stock footage from Coal is used.
  • In a deleted scene, it is shown that Thomas also had to do James' work as well as his own branch line when Percy told him to stay in the shed.
  • This episode marks the first appearance for the full exterior of Ffarquhar Sheds in the television series, as the interior was first shown in Thomas, Percy and the Coal while only the right (viewers' left) berth's exterior was shown when Percy laughed at Thomas and commented on his appearance. A deleted shot from this episode shows Percy in the same berth before pulling up besides Gordon.
  • Thomas' Special Coach was seen in the scene where the Fat Controller was telling off James and Percy, indicating that The Missing Coach was concurrently filmed with this episode.
  • The Korean title of this episode is same as Percy Runs Away.
  • Neither this episode nor The Runaway aired in the 1991 on CITV. Duck Takes Charge aired soon after Thomas and Trevor.
  • When this episode aired on Cartoon Network, the music and sound effects overlapped the original audio.
  • This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of James' original smug face, which would appear throughout the Britt Allcroft Entertainment era, and the last appearance of his laughing face without his teeth. It was also the first appearance of Percy's sad face seen on-screen.
  • Percy's model fell off the set during filming of this episode, which resulted in his middle lamp iron being glued and his left cylinder wobbling. This remained that way until the damage was repaired in the third series, although the left cylinder began wobbling again in the fifth series episodes, Toby and the Flood and A Surprise for Percy.
  • The JEI TV version of the Korean dub added subtitles to inform viewers what a shunting yard is.
  • This episode was never released on VHS and DVD in South Korea.
  • This episode was paired alongside Donald's Duck in an airing of Storytime with Thomas.


  • When Percy creeps up on Gordon, the red coach's windows and roof are crooked.
  • When Gordon says "James and I were just speaking about signals at the junction," to Percy, James' face is loose.
  • In the close-up of Percy's wheels when he reverses from the signal, a wire is visible.
  • As Percy approaches the pedestrian bridge at Elsbridge, the shadow of a studio worker is seen moving around off-set from the metal beams on the bridge.
  • The "lower" quadrant semaphore signal in which Percy stops at is not the sort that is meant to point upwards. The correct signal would have been an "upper" quadrant semaphore signal.
  • The wire used to change the signal is visible.
  • The signal shown in its closeup is different from the signal in the shot where Percy stops at.
  • Because stock footage is used, Percy's driver is in Henry's cab.
  • Gordon's eyes are wonky throughout the episode.
  • When Percy pulls away from Gordon at the beginning, the coal in his second truck is lifted, as is the roof on his brake van.
  • In the Japanese dub, as Gordon, Henry, and Edward passed James, Ringo Starr's dub can faintly be heard in the background.
  • In the original Swedish dub, James is referred to as Gordon when he says, "More likely, he wants you out of the way."
  • When Percy tells James to stay in the shed, steam can be heard, but no steam shoots out, but in the next shot, there is a lot of steam.
  • When James leaves the sheds, the track rocks back and forth. The same mistake also occurs when Gordon puffs past Percy at the signal.
  • When Percy is backing up to the sheds, no workmen are seen operating the turntable.
  • When Percy tells his driver to start moving quickly he suddenly shifts forward a bit.


Inspector: Show a wheel, James. You can't stay here all day.
James: The Fat Controller told me to stay here. He sent a message this morning.
Inspector: He did not. How could he? He's away for a week.
James: Oh. Oh! Where's Percy?!
Narrator: Percy had wisely disappeared.

Percy: I say, you engines, I'm to take some trucks to Thomas' junction. The Fat Controller chose me especially. He must know I'm a really useful engine.
James: More likely, he wants you out of the way.
[Gordon looks across to him]
Gordon: James and I were just speaking about signals at the junction. We can't be too careful about signals, but then, I needn't say that to a really useful engine like you, Percy.
James: We had spoken of backing signals. They need extra special care, you know. Would you like me to explain?
Percy: No, thank you, James. I know all about signals.


In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Problema
Chinese Mandarin 培西和信号
Croatian Pero i Signal
Czech Percy a Signal
Danish Percy og Signalet
Dutch Percy en het Sein
Finnish Pekka ja Opastemerkki
French Pierre et le Signal
German Percy und das Signal
Greek Ο Τζέρι και τα Σήματα
Hungarian Percy és a Tolatójelzés
Italian Percy e il Segnale
Japanese パーシーとしんごう
Korean 장난꾸러기, 퍼시
Latin American Spanish Percy y la Señal
Norwegian Percy og Signalet
Polish Piotrek i Semafor
Romanian Percy şi Semnalul
Romansh Parcival ed il signal
Russian Перси и семафор
Serbian Persi i Znak
Slovenian Poldi in Signal
Swedish Percy och Signalen
Turkish Percy ve Sinyal
Ukrainian Персі і сигнали
Welsh Pyrsi a'r Signal

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets



  • Thomas Gets Bumped and Other Stories
  • Thomas and His Friends Get Along
  • Best of Percy

DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets
















DVD Packs


  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4