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“Harold wants to get rid of us."
"He doesn't need tunnels!"
"Don't worry; he's just counting sheep!"
"Counting sheep? Pah! He's counting how many engines he can get rid of! He'll see how useful I am tomorrow!"”
―Gordon, Henry and Percy

Thomas and the Rumours, retitled Thomas and the Rumors in American releases, is the seventeenth episode of the fifth series. It is based on the magazine story, Rumours and Speculation. It aired back to back with Thomas, Percy and Old Slow Coach on Storytime with Thomas in the US.


One day, Thomas comes to a small station on his branch line and sees some children on the platform. The children are upset that their playground has been closed, as the sand pit is too dirty to play in. They ask Thomas to help, and Thomas promises to see what he can do as he sets off. Thomas hopes things are not as bad as they are described, but he soon passes the playground and realises the children are right; there is a large sign saying that the playground is closed until further notice.

Later, Thomas arrives back at the yard, but before he can tell the others about the children's playground, Percy rushes in with big news. The Fat Controller has chosen Harold to show a special visitor around Sodor rather than the engines. The big engines are shocked at this and proclaim that they are meant to show visitors around the island, not by Harold.

When Gordon sees Harold, he believes Harold thinks he is faster than Gordon. When Henry sees Harold, he believes that the Fat Controller chose Harold because he believes Harold is more important than he is. Finally, Percy sees Harold near a field where there are sheep grazing and decides that Harold must be counting sheep and feels much better.

That evening at the sheds, the big engines start to believe that Harold is trying to replace them. Gordon quickly brushes off Percy's sheep-counting theory, declaring that Harold is instead counting how many engines he can get rid of; he decides to show Harold how useful he is the next day. Thomas wants to bring up the children's dilemma, but he knows that solving the mystery of Harold and the visitor is the engines' top priority now.

The next day, Gordon is on his way to collect his train when he sees Harold, and he and his crew decide to prove that he is faster than the helicopter. However, they fail to notice that they are going down a line leading to a tunnel under repair. Gordon's driver reduces steam and applies the brakes, but it is too late. Gordon plunges into the tunnel and crashes into the blockage inside.

Later, Thomas arrives with the Breakdown Train to rescue Gordon and the Fat Controller arrives as well, who scolds Gordon's driver for his recklessness. Worried that Gordon will be scrapped, Thomas tells him about the engines' belief that the visitor wants to see if Harold can replace them. The Fat Controller explains to Thomas that this is not true, and that he should not listen to rumours. The visitor is actually making a new playground for the children, and Harold was showing the visitor the island because it was easier to find a suitable site for the new playground from up in the air. The man humourously notes that the blockage cleared from the tunnel - a large mound of sand "found by accident and rumour" - will be perfect for the playground.

The Fat Controller still uses Harold to fly above the island. Thankfully, the engines now all know Harold is not spying on them; he is, in his own way, just being very useful.




  • BoCo and Daisy's roles in the original magazine story were replaced with Thomas and Henry in this episode.
  • This episode marks the last time that the story was (in a way) written by Andrew Brenner until King of the Railway and the last time he wrote an episode until Gordon Runs Dry.
  • This episode marks Mr. Walsh's only speaking role and his last appearance.
  • In a rare behind the scenes picture, Tiger Moth can be seen stuck in the haystack. Had this scene not been cut this would have been Tiger Moth's first appearance, but it was instead replaced with Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday.
  • Extended stock footage from the fourth series episode, Trucks is used.
  • When Gordon puffs onto the wrong line, the music in the UK dub fades in later and fades out earlier than the US dub and other international dubs.
  • A Marilyn Monroe poster appears at Callan station.
  • A close-up of the Fat Controller amused by Thomas' concern that Harold might replace them became a popular internet meme, using the caption "The Fat Controller laughed. 'You are wrong,'" as opposed to the actual line: “The Fat Controller laughed. ‘Oh-ho. Well, the engines are wrong and you shouldn't listen to rumours, Thomas.’”
  • The episode was released on Spooks and Surprises VHS a day before airing on television. This makes it the first of five fifth series episodes released directly to home video.


  • The title card for the US dub uses the UK spelling of rumours.
  • When the children tell Thomas about the playground, one child looks happy.
  • When Thomas puffs out of Callan, a signal tilts slightly to one side.
  • When Thomas passes the playground, there is a sign saying: "Playground closed until further notice," at the back of the playground. However, when Gordon passes the playground, the sign is gone.
  • When Thomas puffs into Tidmouth Sheds, the tank of one of the milk wagons beside him is incorrectly placed higher up.
  • When Percy first appears, he rushes in from a dead end.
  • When Percy is on the turntable, part of its fencing is snapped.
  • When Gordon first sees Harold, he puffs through a bridge. However, in the next scene in the close-up of Gordon, the bridge is gone.
  • Studio equipment can be seen in the top-left corner in the close-up of Henry before he enters the tunnel.
  • Percy's roof is lifted during the evening scenes at Tidmouth Sheds.
  • Percy's eyes are wonky when Gordon replies about counting sheep.
  • The special visitor's small scale model is wearing a grey suit while his large scale model is wearing a yellow suit.
  • Henry's eyes are wonky when, Thomas arrives at the sheds, and when Harold leaves the sheds at the end of the episode.
  • One of Henry's vans has a damaged roof.
  • In some close up shots, Gordon's buffers are crooked.
  • When Thomas pulls Gordon out of the tunnel with the breakdown train, the end of the set is seen at the top right corner.


  • Gordon: You look glum, little Percy. UK only: What's up?
  • Percy: The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt told driver that he's using Harold to show a visitor the island instead of using any of us engines.
  • Gordon: Despicable!
  • Henry: Disgusting!
  • James: Engines are meant to take visitors around our island. Not that whirly-bird thing!


  • Narrator: But because they were watching Harold, they missed a signal and went onto a wrong line. Gordon was travelling to trouble and ahead was a tunnel under repair. His driver reduced steam and braked hard, but it was too late.
(Gordon runs into the tunnel and crashes; he is later rescued with help by the breakdown train manned by Thomas)
  • Thomas: Will Gordon be scrapped, Sir?
  • The Fat Controller: What makes you think that?
  • Thomas: Because the engines think the visitor is here to see if we can be replaced by Harold.
  • The Fat Controller: Well, the engines are wrong and you shouldn't listen to rumours, Thomas. This gentleman is making a new playground for the children. It was easier to find a suitable site from up in the air.
  • Mr. Walsh: And what's more, that tunnel sand will be perfect for the playground! UK: Found by accident and rumour, you might say. US: Sand we found by accident, you might say.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Thomas e os Rumores
Chinese Mandarin 托马斯和谣言
Czech Hloupé klebety
Danish Thomas og Rygterne
Dutch Thomas en de Praatjes
French Thomas et les Remeurs
German Gerüchteküche
Hungarian Thomas és a Szóbeszéd
Italian Non Dar Retta Alle Dicerie!
Japanese トーマスとうわさばなし
Korean 토마스와 헛소문 (DVD Acadamy)
소문 (EBS)
Latin American Spanish Thomas y los Rumores
Norwegian Thomas og Ryktene
Polish Tomek i Plotki
Romanian Thomas şi Zvonurile
Russian Томас и слухи
Serbian Tomas i Glasine
Slovenian Tomaž in Govorice
Swedish Thomas och Ryktena

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets



  • Make Someone Happy and Other Thomas Adventures

DVD Packs


  • Spooks and Surprises
  • The Complete Series 5

DVD Packs


  • Spooks and Surprises