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- “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 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, and startles Gordon by telling him his train is ready. Gordon immediately thinks he is running late, only for Percy to reveal a line of dirty trucks. Gordon is cross and tries to think of a way to get back at him.
Percy then goes to James, and tells him that the Fat Controller has sent a message for James to not leave 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. Finally, an engine inspector arrives and tells James to move. James tells him about the message the Fat Controller sent. The inspector points out the Fat Controller could not have sent a message as he is away. James is furious and quickly leaves to find Percy, but Percy has decided to make himself scarce. When the Fat Controller returns, he tells both engines off for causing trouble.
Sometime later, Percy boasts to Gordon and James. He announces that he is taking trucks to Thomas' junction and believes that the Fat Controller chose him because he is a really useful engine, although James thinks it is simply to keep him out of the way. The big engines then realise that they have a chance to give Percy a dose of his own medicine and 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.
Soon, Percy arrives at a signal set to "danger". However, when its arm moves to "line clear", it goes up instead of down. Percy, having never seen anything like it before, guesses that it is a backing signal, and begins reversing. Percy's driver is shocked and quickly stops him, but Percy insists that it is a backing signal, and tells him what Gordon and James had said. After the driver tells him the truth, Percy is eager to leave before he is seen, but before he can, 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 signals; while they think it is funny, Percy thinks they are being very silly.
- Engine Inspector
- Thomas (does not speak)
- Sir Topham Hatt (does not speak)
- Edward (cameo)
- Henry (cameo)
- One Little Boy (cameo)
- One Naughty Boy (cameo)
- The Spiteful Brake Van (faceless; cameo)
- Annie and Clarabel (deleted scene)
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Tidmouth Yards
- Suddery Castle
- 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 off.
- 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.
- In The Japanese dub, the other engines are heard laughing.
- This episode was reran back to back with Donald's Duck on Storytime with Thomas.
- This episode marks the first appearance for the exterior of Ffarquhar Sheds in the television series, as the interior was first shown in Thomas, Percy and the Coal.
- When Percy creeps up on Gordon, the red coach's windows and roof is crooked.
- At Elsbridge, Percy's left cylinder is hanging off.
- 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.
- When Percy goes under the pedestrian bridge at Elsbridge, the reflection of a studio member or camera is visible in the shiny part.
- The "lower" quadrant semaphore signal which Percy stops at is not the sort that is meant to point upwards; it's suppose to an "upper" quadrant semaphore signal instead.
- 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 narration can faintly be heard in the background.
- In the early Swedish dub, James is referred to as Gordon at one point.
- 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.
- When Percy is backing up to the sheds, no workmen are seen operating the turntable.
- 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.
- Magazine stories - Percy and the Signal
- My Thomas Story Library - Percy (discontinued)
- Engine Adventures - Percy
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