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“James is scared of the smelly fish! James is scared of the smelly fish!”
―The Troublesome Trucks teasing James

The Smelly Kipper is the twenty-fourth episode of the seventeenth series.


One evening at Tidmouth Sheds, James is telling a scary story of a ghost train to the other engines. They do not take James' stories too seriously, except for Percy, who pulls the mail train at night. When James states that he saw the ghost train, Percy is frightened. Thomas tells James off, but James teases Percy about being scared of the dark, to which Thomas retorts that if he is so brave, he should pull the mail train at night. James denies, saying it is a job for a small engine, to which Percy says he can do it. Henry challenges James to take The Flying Kipper that night to show how brave he is, and James agrees, saying he is not afraid of fish.

When James arrives at Brendam Docks, he notices a terrible smell. Porter is shunting the trucks for the Flying Kipper, and he explains that the smell is the fish. He asks James if he is there to pull the Flying Kipper, but James denies and explains that he usually pulls coaches, so he goes back to Tidmouth Sheds to wake Henry up.

Back at Tidmouth, James wakes Henry up and tells him he must collect the Flying Kipper. Henry remembers the promise James made, but James tricks the big green engine into thinking that it was just a dream. So, Henry, without dillydallying, sets off straight away in order to pull the Flying Kipper, while James thinks he has been very clever.

Henry rushes to pull the Flying Kipper, but all the deliveries are late. When Henry returns to the sheds the next morning, the Fat Controller asks him what happened. Henry explains he must have overslept, and then the "dream" he had last night that James said he would pull the Flying Kipper for him, but Thomas and Gordon explain that they heard Henry and James' conversation, thus telling him it was not a dream after all.

James realizes he has been exposed, and the Fat Controller asks him if what he said to Henry is true. James admits he really did say to Henry he was going to pull the Flying Kipper, and that he went to collect it, but he says that the fish were too smelly for him. He then makes a feeble excuse that if he was pulling coaches, his passengers might object to his being smelly, but the Fat Controller insists that smelly or not, James is to pull the Flying Kipper tonight to make up for his broken promise to Henry, leaving James horrified.

That night, when James arrives to take the Flying Kipper, he reverses slowly towards the troublesome trucks, who begin to tease James for being scared of fish. James denies this, and he is so distracted from the trucks teasing him that he bumps into Cranky's hook while he is unloading, and the red engine is covered in fish. The trucks and Porter think James looks very silly, covered in fish. Soon James takes the Flying Kipper.

The next morning, the engines wake up to a funny smell, which is the smell of fish. Thomas and Gordon tease James, saying that he is smelly. James immediately notices a fish on his running board, right underneath his smokebox, and tries to explain his situation, but all the engines laugh at him. The Fat Controller arrives and praises James for delivering the fish on time, despite his little accident. Upon smelling James, he immediately sends him to the washdown, which James is very happy to do.

At the washdown, James is happy to be getting cleaned, and he hopes he will never have to see another fish for a very long time.





US and CAN


  • Going by production order, this is the twelfth episode of the seventeenth series and the 400th episode of the show.
  • Some elements of this episode are borrowed from the Railway Series story Sliding Scales from Henry and the Express, in which James also had trouble pulling the Flying Kipper. The premise of Cranky spilling fish onto James is also used in the magazine story Fish and Fog!
  • The lines "The smell was even stronger now. James hurried as fast as he could to deliver the fish," are omitted in the US dub.
  • The events of this episode were mentioned by Thomas in Henry Gets the Express.
  • In the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Baltic Russian and one of the Vietnamese dubs, the UK dub can be heard in the background as a dubbing track was not used.


  • When James returns from the docks for the first time, the footage is not cut properly when James reverses off the turntable and into his berth.
  • When James reverses out of the docks, the two troublesome trucks at the front of the Flying Kipper have disappeared.
  • James reverses into the pallet of fish, but the fish fall onto his smokebox rather than his tender.
  • At the end of the shot where Gordon says "it looks like he's brought a present for the Fat Controller," a small black box glitch briefly appears on the screen by Thomas' wheels. In the same scene, Gordon is missing his lamp irons. In a clip of the episode on the show's official YouTube channel, Gordon's lamp-irons are added back.
  • The narrator incorrectly refers to the pallet of fish Cranky is moving as Cranky's hook.
  • When the narrator says "James was not happy at all," James has no lamp, but in the next close-up shot his lamp suddenly appears.
  • In the Hebrew dub, the Flying Kipper is called the "Fish Truck" and the Troublesome Trucks are called "Troublesome Engines." The latter also happens in the subsequent episode.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Vagão Fedido
Chinese Mandarin 臭臭的小飞鱼
Czech Smradlavý Kipper
Dutch De Stinkende Haring
Estonian Haisev Suitsukala
French Une mission qui ne sent pas bon
Galician O Arenque Fedorento
German Der stinkende Hering
Greek Το βρωμερό τρένο
Hebrew ריח דגים
Hungarian A Büdös Hering
Italian Alla Larga dal Pesce
Japanese サカナなんてこわくない
Korean 제임스와 야간 수송 열차
Latin American Spanish El Kipper Apestoso
Latvian Smirdošs Zivju siļķe
Lithuanian Dvokiantis silke
Norwegian Den stinkende sild
Polish Pociąg z rybami
Romanian Scrumbia Mirositoare
Russian Запах Джеймса (Original)
Запах рыбы (Alternate)
Spanish El Arenque Apestoso
Ukrainian Смердючий Лосось

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