Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
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Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia

The first series of Thomas & Friends started airing on 9th October 1984 in the UK. Ringo Starr narrated its twenty-six episodes in the UK, later redubbing twenty-five in the US for Shining Time Station. George Carlin redubbed the entire series for the US from 1991 to 1993.

Production

All episodes in the first series were adaptations of the Reverend W. Awdry's stories, with the exception of an episode written by the staff, Thomas' Christmas Party, a book based on the eponymous episode. The stories were adapted by Britt Allcroft and David Mitton. The seven engines introduced in this series became the core of the cast in later series. The pilot for the series was Down the Mine, which was remade entirely when the rest of the episodes were shot.

The Pilot

Screenshot Title Original UK release date Episode number #
DowntheMine65.png Down the Mine (Unaired Pilot) Unaired (Test Screened Mid-1983) #00
The original 1983 pilot episode of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. The pilot was based on the Railway Series story Down the Mine and differed from the final aired version. The pilot was never broadcast, but instead was re-filmed after the series was greenlit by ITV. Only one scene from the pilot can be seen from the final version of the episode.

Episodes

(Note: * means that an episode was not narrated by Ringo Starr in the US and was only narrated by George Carlin in the US.)

(Note: ** means that an episode was narrated by George Carlin in the US but was never shown in Shining Time Station and only released on VHS or DVD.)

(Note: *** means that an episode was reused for Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales.)

(Note: **** means that an episode was seen on Mister Moose's Fun Time in 1998-2000.)

Screenshot UK title (top)
US title (bottom)
Original UK release date Episode number #
ThomasandGordon14.png Thomas and Gordon
Thomas Gets Tricked
****
9th October 1984 #01
Thomas enjoys teasing Gordon, but when his teasing goes too far, Gordon decides to teach him a lesson.
EdwardandGordon45.png Edward and Gordon
Edward Helps Out
**
9th October 1984 #02
Edward's crew feel sorry for him and take him out one day. Then he helps Gordon when he gets stuck on a hill.
TheSadStoryOfHenry52.png The Sad Story of Henry
Come Out, Henry!
***
16th October 1984 #03
Henry believes the rain will spoil his paintwork and he runs into a tunnel, in which he is eventually bricked up.
EdwardGordonAndHenry48.png Edward, Gordon and Henry
Henry to the Rescue
16th October 1984 #04
Gordon goes too fast and bursts a safety valve right in front of the tunnel. Henry is let out to help Edward pull the train.
Thomas'Train26.png Thomas' Train
A Big Day for Thomas
23rd October 1984 #05
Thomas wishes he could pull a train. When Henry is ill, his chance comes with disastrous results.
ThomasandtheTrucks47.png Thomas and the Trucks
Trouble for Thomas
***
23rd October 1984 #06
Thomas and Edward agree to swap jobs. However, Edward's train consists of trucks, which love to play tricks.
ThomasandtheBreakdownTrain32.png Thomas and the Breakdown Train
Thomas Saves the Day
(*** / ****)
30th October 1984 #07
When James comes off the rails, Thomas quickly comes to the rescue with the Breakdown Train. He is given a branch line and two coaches as a reward.
JamesandtheCoaches47.png James and the Coaches
James Learns a Lesson
30th October 1984 #08
James wets the Fat Controller's new top hat with steam and then bumps his coaches so hard that one of their brakes fail.
TroublesomeTrucks(episode)22.png Troublesome Trucks
Foolish Freight Cars
6th November 1984 #09
James has been confined to the shed but is released to pull trucks. The trucks misbehave, but James does not give up.
JamesandtheExpress42.png James and the Express
A Proud Day for James
(** / ****)
6th November 1984 #10
When Gordon is switched the wrong way and gets lost, James is given the Express.
ThomasandtheGuard37.png Thomas and the Guard
Thomas and the Conductor
13th November 1984 #11
Thomas' impatience leads to him forgetting his guard.
ThomasGoesFishing41.png Thomas Goes Fishing 13th November 1984 #12
Thomas wants to go fishing, but he learns the hard way when he takes on river water.
Thomas,TerenceandtheSnow30.png Thomas, Terence and the Snow
Terence the Tractor
**
20th November 1984 #13
Thomas meets Terence the Tractor and says his wheels are ugly. However, Thomas is shown just how useful they are when he crashes into a snowdrift.
ThomasandBertie45.png Thomas and Bertie
Thomas and Bertie's Great Race
20th November 1984 #14
Thomas meets Bertie the Bus who challenges him to a race.
TendersandTurntables23.png Tenders and Turntables 27th November 1984 #15
Ever since Thomas got his own branch line, the big engines have to shunt their own coaches. Then Gordon and James get into trouble on the turntable.
TroubleintheShed8.png Trouble in the Shed 27th November 1984 #16
The big engines go on strike so the Fat Controller buys a new tank engine called Percy to help.
PercyRunsAway32.png Percy Runs Away 4th December 1984 #17
Percy forgets Edward's warning about going on the main line and is so startled by Gordon that he runs away.
Coal21.png Coal
Henry's Special Coal
4th December 1984 #18
Henry is not feeling well. The Fat Controller comes to a conclusion that Henry needs Welsh coal to perform well.
TheFlyingKipper14.png The Flying Kipper 11th December 1984 #19
Henry is chosen to pull the "Flying Kipper". However, ice jams the points and snow forces down a signal, leading Henry to crash.
WhistlesandSneezes10.png Whistles and Sneezes (* / ***) 11th December 1984 #20
Gordon's whistle jams and he cannot stop whistling while Henry sneezes at some troublemaking boys.
TobyandtheStoutGentleman21.png Toby and the Stout Gentleman
Toby the Tram Engine
18th December 1984 #21
Toby the Tram Engine and his coach, Henrietta, meet the Fat Controller and his family on their holiday, but Toby's line slowly closes down.
ThomasinTrouble19.png Thomas in Trouble
Thomas Breaks the Rules
18th December 1984 #22
Thomas gets in trouble with a policeman. When the Fat Controller hears about it, he buys Toby and Henrietta.
DirtyObjects40.png Dirty Objects
James in a Mess
25th December 1984 #23
Toby and Henrietta often get teased by James about their old-fashioned appearance. However, James crashes into some tar tanker wagons.
OfftheRails26.png Off the Rails
Gordon Takes a Dip
8th January 1985 #24
Gordon decides to jam the turntable to prove a point, but his attempt makes him slide into a ditch.
DowntheMine37.png Down the Mine 8th January 1985 #25
Thomas goes to a lead mine to collect some trucks but foolishly passes a danger board and falls down a mine.
Thomas'ChristmasParty41.png Thomas' Christmas Party ** 25th December 1984 #26
Thomas wants to hold a special Christmas party for Mrs. Kyndley. Unfortunately, Mrs. Kyndley's house is snowed in, so he must assist Toby and Terence to help clear the snow.

Characters

Trivia

  • When the series was first broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom, two episodes would be compiled into one ten minute block with a name board sequence featured in between. For subsequent broadcasts, the stories were shown individually.
  • Filming lasted seven months, commencing in September 1983 and wrapping in March 1984. Post-production wrapped on 24th April 1984.
  • According to Ringo Starr, he spent eight days recording his narrations, including retakes for four episodes due to the tone of his voice.
  • The Norwegian, Finnish, Slovenian and early Swedish narrations credit Ringo Starr as the narrator, even though they were redubbed in their respective languages.
  • Most of the series' scripts were partially edited for the US redubs.
  • Central Independent Television commissioned the production of this series and the next.
  • In the Ukrainian version, Ringo Starr's voice can be heard in the background.
  • Several features are exclusive to this series:
    • It is the only series until the twenty-first to have its UK recordings released in the US, excluding the second series episode, Thomas Comes to Breakfast included in some copies of Tenders and Turntables and Other Stories, the fifth series episode, Something in the Air released on the Roku Channel, the seventh series episode, The Grand Opening released on both Kabillion on Demand and the Roku Channel and the segments selected for Tales on the Rails.
    • This was the only time lead was used to create the human characters. From the second to eleventh series, all human characters were made from resin, so they could move around more easily.
    • The trucks have their faces embedded in their bodies. From the second to eleventh series, the trucks have moulded faces, although some first series-style trucks appeared in some of these episodes.
    • The only series dubbed in Slovak, and the only series dubbed in Icelandic until the thirteenth series.
    • The only series in the Finnish dub where Thomas is always called Thomas the Tank Engine.
    • The only series shot at Clapham Junction and Clearwater Studios in Battersea. All future series were shot at Shepperton Studios.
    • The only series to be released on Betamax. Two tapes were released and consist of all the episodes. The first includes episodes 1-13, and the second includes episodes 14-26. Kaledioscope re-released them on VHS on 28th April 1986, and VCI also re-released them on 16th May 1988, each with similar tactics, such as the nameboards being used in the opening titles. This also happened for the 1990 Bumper Special, as well as the Betamax releases. From 22nd November 1993, the VHS releases were given new covers and renamed from their original versions.
    • The only series entirely dubbed in French until the twelfth series.
  • The first seven episodes were remade in the 2015 special The Adventure Begins.
  • When first broadcast on ITV, Dirty Objects was paired with Thomas' Christmas Party and Off the Rails with Down the Mine. On VHS, however, Dirty Objects was paired with Off the Rails and Down the Mine with Thomas' Christmas Party.
  • On CITV, the first series was broadcast again between 18th November - 24th December 1985 as separate episodes. Repeats of ten-minute blocks include the following:
    • Wednesdays from 8th July - 9th September 1987, ending with The Flying Kipper and Whistles and Sneezes. Thomas' Christmas Party was shown individually on 30th December.
    • Mondays and Thursdays from 5th - 22nd December 1988, then Mondays only from 12th January - 20th February 1989 with a repeat showing of Thomas' Train/Thomas and the Trucks on 27th February which was shortly followed by the second series from 6th March-22nd May 1989 before TUGS was shown on CiTV.
    • Four double bills were repeated on Mondays from 30th July - 20th August 1990.
  • The UK version's iTunes release uses the restored version of the series.
  • The final sets built were the ones involving Toby's Old Tramway, and so the majority of promotional images from the first series depict these sets.
  • Some sound effects were specially recorded for the first series at the Talyllyn Railway.[1]
  • This series was introduced by a variety of Children’s ITV presenters. Windsor Davies, in character as Sergeant Major Zero from Terrahawks, introduced the first four pairs of episodes of the series for four weeks until the arrival of Bonnie Langford on 6th November 1984; she in turn introduced a run of eight episodes for a month. Matthew Kelly took charge of introducing more episodes from 4th December 1984 until the pairing of Dirty Objects and Thomas’ Christmas Party on Christmas Day. The following year, Roland Rat introduced the remaining two episodes finally ending the series.

References



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