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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for 'the Dutch DVD, the Malaysian DVD, the promotional DVD, the 2005 magazine story, or the 2004 magazine story'.

“These engines are filthy! I've never seen so much coal dust!”
―The Railway Inspector talking about Emily, Gordon, and James

Spic and Span is the thirteenth episode of the eighth series.


The railway staff is busy preparing for the arrival of the Railway Inspector, checking signals, scrubbing platforms, and making sure the railway looks its best. Eventually, the day of his arrival comes. Percy asks what a Railway "Inspectacles" does, to which Gordon corrects him as Railway Inspector. Thomas explains that the Railway Inspector comes every year to make sure everything looks "spic and span." The Fat Controller tells his engines that the inspector will give a special prize to the best turned out engine this year, so he wants his engines to look their best. Thomas and Percy become excited and wonder if they can win, but Gordon, Emily, and James are very confident that they will win first prize instead, since Gordon is an Express engine, Emily has big wheels, and James is a splendid red engine. Thomas tells Percy not to listen to them, and that a really useful engine can look as grand as any engine.

That afternoon, Thomas and Percy are working at the quarry, collecting stone to take to Brendam Docks. However, Thomas gets covered in stone dust. Percy is worried that Thomas will not win first prize, but Thomas knows he just needs a good washdown, so he sets off to get cleaned. Emily is already at the washdown, so Thomas asks her to hurry up so he can be cleaned, too. Emily tells him that there is no need for him to be cleaned; she will be the grandest at the inspection. Thomas is cross, so he leaves to help Percy with the stone trucks, still confident in winning first prize.

Thomas and Percy deliver the stone trucks to the docks, where Thomas sees the Fat Controller with the Railway Inspector examining the Docks. Realizing he is still dirty, Thomas rushes back to the washdown, only to find James there ahead of him. Like Emily, James boasts to Thomas that there is no point in him being clean; he will be the shiniest at the inspection. Thomas begins to lose confidence, but he still wants to win first prize, so he heads off to finish his job with Percy.

Back at the docks, Thomas helps Percy with shunting the stone trucks into the sidings; by now, Percy is also dirty, and Thomas is dirtier than ever, so they both head for the washdown. This time, Gordon is there, having just finished being cleaned. Thomas notices how splendid Gordon looks, and then James and Emily arrive. Emily's wheels are shinier than ever, and James's paint sparkles in the sun. Seeing how splendid all three bigger engines look, Thomas is sure he will never win now and gives up hope. Percy knows that with a good washdown, they still have a chance. In no time, Thomas and Percy are being cleaned. Percy is happy, but Thomas is sad, as he now believes that the bigger engines were right: He will never look as splendid as they do.

James, Emily, and Gordon arrive at the coaling plant, where the Fat Controller and the Railway Inspector will meet them. They complement how the sunlight makes them sparkle, shine, and glimmer. Trying to find the sunniest place in the yard, James reverses, only to bump into a flatbed. The flatbed accidentally knocks into a lever, releasing the hatch on the coal hopper. James realizes his mistake, but it is too late. Suddenly, coal begins pouring onto the tracks and coal dust spreads all over Gordon, James, and Emily. Now, they are not gleaming and shiny anymore.

The Fat Controller and the Railway Inspector soon arrive, but they are shocked and cross to see the three engines so dirty. When Gordon, trying to clean out his funnel, sends coal shooting out into the air, which lands all over the Fat Controller, his bodyguards, and the Railway Inspector. Just then, Thomas and Percy arrive, now looking spic and span. The Railway Inspector is so impressed with Thomas and Percy's appearance, saying they are just what engines should look like. The two little engines both win first prize, having each received special rosettes. Thomas tells Percy he is glad he convinced him to come to the inspection, and Percy tells Thomas that he was right; a really useful engine can look as grand as any engine.




  • Going by production order, this is the ninth episode of the eighth series.
  • This is the first episode written by Marc Seal.
  • Stock footage from A Bad Day for Harold the Helicopter (directed by David Mitton) is used.
  • A poster at Knapford reads "Allicia Botti Flower Show Grand Opening!" in a close-up of some workmen.
  • This is the last episode of the main show to use stock footage from the classic era in the US due to the seventh series being paired with this series in that country.


  • After Emily says "And my wheels glimmer," her siderods go up.
  • A few of the engines' facemasks move a bit in some shots such as:
    • When Gordon says "The sunlight here makes my dome sparkle."
    • Emily's face moves after she and Gordon get covered in coal dust.
  • The Railway Inspector is skinny in some close-up shots, but in a non close-up rare picture, he is chubby.
  • When James backs up, the camera moves down slightly.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 整齐又干净
Croatian Cakum pakum
Czech Jako že škatulky
Danish Øens flotteste lokomotiv
Dutch Piekfijn in Orde
Finnish Huippukunnossa
French Le Premier Prix
German Blitzblank
Hungarian Mozdony Szépségverseny
Italian La locomotiva più brillante
Japanese きちんときれい
Korean 제일 멋진 기관차는 누굴까?
Latin American Spanish Limpia y Reluciente
Norwegian Hvem er penest?
Polish Na Tip Top
Portuguese Tudo em Perfeita Ordem
Romanian Lună și Bec
Russian Чистота и блеск
Scottish Gaelic Glan is Sgiobalta
Spanish Perfectos e Inmaculados
Swedish Snyggt och prydligt

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