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The fifth series of Thomas & Friends first aired on television in September 1998 in the UK and had twenty-six episodes narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Alec Baldwin in the US.


With Series 5, the decision was made to write a full series of original, staff-written stories, without using the Railway Series' books as a source. One reason for this was producer Britt Allcroft's desire to create a theatrical Thomas the Tank Engine film and requested that director David Mitton show off his modelling skills. Series 5 also took on edgier and darker plot lines and included much more intense action and crashes.

Some inspiration for the episodes came from a former LMR manager named David Maidment. In 1997, Maidment met with Steven Wright about the possibility of supporting the Railway Children charity and while Wright told him the series' staff commonly received such requests, they would consider. During their meeting, Maidment relayed stories about his railway experiences working in South Wales and as the manager at Crewe station. Maidment received a call asking if he would allow some of his stories to be used as material – the stories from the Railway Series were frequently based on true events and Allcroft and Mitton preferred this. Maidment agreed and was also asked to review each story to make sure that the railway in the show operated realistically. As a result, Maidment received writing credit alongside Allcroft and Mitton. 10,000 pounds was later donated to the Railway Children for his work.

The design for each new character would be chosen by David Eves and given to David Mitton for approval. For ease of filming, Series 5 would introduce larger-scale versions of the narrow gauge engines and from Series 6-12, these larger models were used almost exclusively. Originally, the character Bertram was supposed to be a tank engine, but financial difficulty in building a new model made them repaint Duke's model with Smudger's face.


Screenshot UK title (top)
US title (bottom)
Original UK release date Episode number #
CrankyBugs91Cranky Bugs14 September 1998#01
A new crane called Cranky arrives at the docks and causes trouble for Thomas and Percy but eventually needs their help after a storm.
HorridLorry15Horrid Lorry15 September 1998#02
Three very Horrid Lorries arrive on Sodor and start taking over the engines' jobs. Eventually, the tables are turned and the lorries get their comeuppance.
ABetterViewforGordon55A Better View for Gordon16 September 1998#03
Gordon complains about the plainness of a new station and longs for a panoramic view, which he gets unexpectedly.
LadyHatt'sBirthdayParty93Lady Hatt's Birthday Party17 September 1998#04
On his way to his wife's birthday, the Fat Controller runs into a series of problems.
JamesandtheTroublewithTrees59James and the Trouble with Trees18 September 1998#05
James' bragging prevents him from listening to Henry, Percy and Terence's warnings about trees that are too close to the line.
GordonandtheGremlin76Gordon and the Gremlin21 September 1998#06
Gordon has problems with his fire and the others joke of gremlins. Later, a special visitor arrives and her dog runs away into Thomas' cab.
ByeGeorge!92Bye George!22 September 1998#07
George the Steamroller causes a great deal of trouble for the engines.
Baa!55Baa!23 September 1998#08
A "Best Dressed Station" contest is being held across Sodor. However, as Percy is helping decorate Maithwaite station, a hungry ram is found at the station and the decorations are ruined.
PutUponPercy64Put Upon Percy24 September 1998#09
Percy complains that he is overworked. While working at the Coal Mine, some trucks escape and they crash inside the mine-shaft, which causes the mine to collapse.
TobyAndTheFlood44Toby and the Flood25 September 1998#10
Toby is sent to inspect a dam and discovers a few leaks in it. It eventually collapses and causes an unsafe bridge to break, causing him to drift towards a waterfall.
HauntedHenry27Haunted Henry28 September 1998#11
Henry refuses to believe in ghosts, until he and his crew encounter a series of spooky events during the night.
DoubleTeethingTroubles53Double Teething Troubles29 September 1998#12
Bill and Ben are worried when they hear that Derek, a malfunctioning diesel, is going to help them work in the clay pits.
StepneyGetsLost66Stepney Gets Lost30 September 1998#13
The Fat Controller invites Stepney to work with Toby and Mavis at the quarry. Stepney gets lost on the way home, eventually arriving at the Smelter's Yard.
Toby'sDiscovery79Toby's Discovery1 October 1998#14
Toby takes the Hatts on an expedition, finding a castle and an old mine. The destinations are reopened, but Toby is spooked by Thomas' story about "The Old Warrior".
SomethingInTheAir62Something in the Air2 October 1998#15
Henry is cross when Thomas delays him and refuses to listen to his warning about a line eroded by high tides.
Thomas,PercyandOldSlowCoach73Thomas, Percy and Old Slow Coach5 October 1998#16
Thomas and Percy discover an old coach named Old Slow Coach in the scrapyard and want to save her.
ThomasandtheRumours55Thomas and the Rumours6 October 1998#17
The engines discover that Harold has been hired to show a special visitor around the island and fear being replaced.
Oliver'sFind82Oliver's Find7 October 1998#18
Oliver is put on mail duty and ends up going down an old branch line due to a dozing signalman.
HappyEverAfter80Happy Ever After8 October 1998#19
Mrs. Kyndley asks Percy and his driver to make a "good luck package" for her daughter's wedding.
SirTophamHatt'sHoliday57Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday9 October 1998#20
The Fat Controller and his family go on holiday, though things start to go wrong.
ASurpriseforPercy56A Surprise for Percy
A Big Surprise for Percy
12 October 1998#21
Percy moans about his work in the mines and wants something exciting to happen. His wish comes true when a line of trucks breaks away from him on the hill.
MakeSomeoneHappy71Make Someone Happy13 October 1998#22
James sees Mrs. Kyndley, who is upset that her sister cannot come and visit. A "mystery tour" is arranged for her and James is chosen for it.
BusyGoingBackwards93Busy Going Backwards14 October 1998#23
Toad confesses to Oliver that he wishes to go forwards for a change. On Gordon's Hill, the coupling snaps and Toad goes on a wild ride.
DuncanGetsSpooked58Duncan Gets Spooked15 October 1998#24
Duncan teases Peter Sam after some trucks fall into a ravine, so Rusty tells Duncan a ghost story to make him eat his own words.
RustyandtheBoulder59Rusty and the Boulder16 October 1998#25
Rusty is suspicious of a strange boulder lodged in the mountains.
Snow61Snow19 October 1998#26
Thomas is cross with the snow, so Rusty tells him about Skarloey's own experience in an avalanche.



Characters Introduced


  • This was the first series of several things:
    • The first series not to have any episodes based on the Railway Series stories by Wilbert and Christopher Awdry.
    • The first series where some railway on Sodor is referred to as a "railroad", Duncan Gets Spooked however, is the first episode that referred a railway as a railroad, even though it is an American term in the US.
    • The first series to introduce original characters with no connection to the Railway Series.
    • Alec Baldwin's first series as narrator.
    • The first series not to air on Shining Time Station due to the show ending. Episodes from the fifth series were instead aired on FOX Family's Storytime with Thomas.
    • The first series to use a Proteus 2000 to compose the music.
    • The first series not dubbed in Ukrainian.
    • The first series to air in Canada.
    • The first series dubbed by The Maidstone Studios.
    • The first series in which the phrase, "confusion and delay" is said.
    • The first series in which Elsbridge does not appear.
  • According to an interview with David Mitton before his death in 2008, this series was supposed to be a showcase of Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • This series features more songs than any other to date, at a total of ten.
  • This was also the final series of several things:
    • Britt Allcroft's final series as writer and producer.
    • David Mitton's final series as producer.
    • Angus Wright's last series as executive producer.
    • The last series to premiere in the UK on Cartoon Network.
    • The last series filmed completely in 4:3 full screen.
    • The last series shown in Germany and Spain until the eighth series.
    • The last series to have a railway consultant until the seventeenth series.
    • The last series where Thomas' shocked face had a buck tooth.
    • The last series where Percy's eyes shut (bracing) original face mask is used, excluding the sixth series because it was unused. A new one would later be made for the eighth series.
    • The last series to have all its episodes released on VHS in the UK and Australia. The two episodes, Bye George! and Something in the Air, were featured on the ABC For Kids compilation VHS, Play Box in the latter country.
    • John L. Wright's last series as editor.
  • This was also the only series of several things:
    • David Maidment's only series as railway consultant and writer.
    • The only series where Donald appears without Douglas.
    • The only series where Diesel does not appear since his introduction in the second series.
    • The only series where Knapford Station does not appear.
    • The only series recorded in Dolby Surround Sound, hence the absence of certain sound effects and music in either the UK or US version of several episodes.
    • The only series released incompletely on domestically produced VHS tapes in New Zealand.
  • Michael Angelis was not credited in the opening titles for the UK narration. However, he is credited as narrator in the Hindi narration, even though it was re-dubbed and Alec Baldwin was credited in the opening titles for the US narration.
  • Starting with this series up to the twelfth series, the brake sound effect from the 1964 film, The Train would be used when an engine puts on the brakes.
  • This series was filmed in the same room that TUGS was filmed in.
  • The Japanese video game Magical Adventure utilized specially shot footage from this series.


Opening Titles


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