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Shining Time Station

Shining Time Station is an American television series best known for introducing Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends to the United States.



First Series Regulars

  • Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor
  • Leonard Jackson as Henry "Harry" Cupper
  • Jason Woliner as Matthew "Matt" Jones
  • Nicole Leach as Tanya Cupper

Christmas Special Characters

  • Ardon Bess as Tucker Cupper
  • Lloyd Bridges as Mr. Nicholas
  • Judy Marshak as Claire
  • Rachael Miner as Vickie

Second and Third Series Regulars

Recurring Characters

  • Jerome Dempsey as Mayor Osgood Bob Flopdinger
  • Mart Hulswit as J.B. King, Esq.
  • Bobo Lewis as Midge Smoot
  • Barbara Hamilton as Ginny Johnson
  • Johnathan Shapiro as Schemee
  • Gerald Parkes as Barton Winslow
  • Aurelio Padrón as Felix Perez

The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • Olga Marin as Didi
  • Wayne White as Tex (1989)
  • Alan Semok as Tex (1990–1995)
  • Craig Marin as Rex and JJ Silvers
  • Jonathan Freeman as Tito Swing
  • Alan Semok/Peter Baird/Vanesse Thomas as Grace the Bass (1989-1990)
  • Peter Baird/Kenny Miele/Vaneese Thomas as Grace the Bass (1991-1995)

Broadcast History

United States


New Zealand

Note: Fox Family and Nick Jr. only aired the second and third seasons of Shining Time Station. Fox Family also used the opening credits from the family specials.

Behind the Scenes

  • Shining Time Station was created to introduce Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends to American audiences, as The Railway Series has never been published book-by-book in the United States (only compilation volumes have been released) until the late 1990s, but only ten were published. Another reason was due to stricter broadcasting schedules, meaning episodes were broadcasted to a prolonged 28 minutes rather than five minutes.
  • Schemer (portrayed by Brian O’Connor), is the only major adult character from the series to not appear in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, though O’Connor reprised the role in a fan parody of the film twenty years later after the latter was released in cinemas nationwide.
  • Kevin Roth sang the theme song that played during the opening and closing credits of the show.
  • The footage of the Rainbow Sun in the opening and closing credits was reused from the 1981 promotional film, Eighty Four Forty Four by Pentrex.
  • All of the Shining Time Station episodes only ever had three sets: the main room of the station, the workshop and the interior of the station's jukebox where the Jukebox Band resided. This changed in the specials, in which scenes took place outside, in the signal house and in a large basement-type room that may or may not be part of the station building.
  • Didi, the female drummer of the Jukebox Band, is shown to have a crush on Mr. Conductor, who learns about this in One in the Family, and they apparently begin dating.
  • Mr. Conductor has various forms of his magic gold dust, including some for teleportation, forgetfulness, love, sleep and pranks. It also has life-giving qualities and can make inanimate objects come alive. His whistle also has some magic and is used to start a Thomas story by means of blowing.
  • A few things regarding Mr. Conductor occur in the Family Specials:
    • He shows that he can appear and interact with the Jukebox Band characters.
    • He has a name tag on his uniform.
  • Several episodes from the first two series were never narrated by Ringo Starr in the US, due to him having left the show in 1990 to focus on his music career and tour with The All Starr Band. The episodes in question were Whistles and Sneezes, Bertie's Chase, Percy and the Signal, Break Van (later renamed Donald and Douglas), The Deputation, Daisy, Percy's Predicament, The Diseasel, Wrong Road and Edward's Exploit. It is likely that these re-narrations were planned, but cancelled at the last minute due to Starr's departure.
    • When Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree was used for the Home Video version of the Christmas special 'Tis a Gift, because Starr did not properly re-narrate this episode, all mentions of "The Fat Controller" were all omitted, leaving large sections of pauses in various parts of the story.
    • Additionally, two episodes, Daisy and Percy's Predicament, were not seen on Shining Time Station at all because of Rick Siggelkow's disapproval of Daisy's design, which he considered sexist. As a result, both episodes featuring Daisy first appeared on the VHS Daisy and Other Thomas Stories on October 6, 1993.
      • Furthermore, in the Series 3 episode, Mavis, Daisy's role in that story was given to Diesel.
    • When George Carlin took over, nine of his narrations from the first two series were not featured in the series; these being Edward Helps Out, A Proud Day for James, Terence the Tractor, Thomas' Christmas Party, Saved From Scrap, The Runaway, Daisy, Percy's Predicament and Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree. It is likely that these dubs (excluding Daisy and Percy's Predicament) were planned to be featured in the series, but due to its end in 1993, they were instead released on home media between 1993 and 2002, making them VHS-exclusives.
  • In the episode Washout, when Mr. Conductor tells the story Bertie's Chase, the beginning (Edward waiting for Thomas) was omitted. This scene was also omitted from the James in a Mess picture book. However, in the Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales episode, Splish, Splash, Splosh, and in all VHS and DVD releases, the episode is in its entirety.
  • The show aired on Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. block in the summer of 2000 to promote Thomas and the Magic Railroad for a limited time on the network.
  • When the show aired on Fox Family, it used the credits from the television specials, but episodes were edited significantly so they could fit the time slot, and even though the series originally aired on PBS, the Fox Family airings added commercial interruptions as well.
  • The Indian Valley Railroad (where the station is located) is an actual defunct short line in California. It was constructed to serve the Engels Copper Mine, the largest copper mine in California and was a branch connection of The Union Pacific Railroad at Paxton, California. Indian Valley is where the mine was located.
  • Throughout the series, entire episodes (and at one point, an entire season) were knocked out of continuity due to flashbacks from later episodes. For example, the series finale, How the Station Got Its Name changed the continuity of the entire first season.
  • On the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends VHS tapes from Thomas Gets Tricked and Other Stories to Better Late Than Never and Other Stories, the Thomas stories featured on the tapes were in order from their Shining Time Station broadcasts from the first season. All the tapes including the first ones always advertised "As Seen on Shining Time Station" some copies even including the Shining Time Station Sun on the top right corner it was then stopped after the release of James Goes Buzz Buzz and Other Thomas Stories when the show ended the previous year. Starting in 1995, re-releases of the VHS covers from Thomas Gets Tricked to James Goes Buzz Buzz no longer included these advertisements.
  • When the series aired in New Zealand, the third series VHS releases of Thomas in that country used George Carlin's narrations and advertised "Stories as seen on Shining Time Station" at the bottom of the front cover.
  • When George Carlin assumed the role of Mr. Conductor in the second season, all Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends stories from the first and second seasons were redubbed by him, although not all of them aired on television with only nine stories only being seen on home media than on TV until years or even a decade after Shining Time Station was airing on PBS.
  • Restored clips from Shining Time Station could be seen at the Explore the Rails travelling exhibit.
  • After Shining Time Station, the Jukebox that was shown in Schemer's Arcade was featured in the series, The Doodlebops, and is currently in the possession of Twitter user, @NorthernStarCA.
  • According to Britt Allcroft, she and Rick Siggelkow are currently working on releasing Shining Time Station onto DVD. However, Siggelkow confirmed in 2021 that the masters of Shining Time Station and Thomas are with Mattel, and no other news regarding a complete series DVD release for the series has been announced, so it is currently unknown if the DVD project will be completed or if it was cancelled. It is also unknown if masters of the Family Specials from 1995 or even the mini spin-off series, Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales, will be released on DVD either.


  • The show was mentioned in America's Historic Steam Railroads: Georgetown Loop Railroad.



Season 2 and 3

Family Specials

Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales

External Links

Shining Time Station Wiki
Shining Time Station Wiki logo

Please visit the Shining Time Station Wiki, based on the spin-off series of Thomas & Friends.