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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the American VHS/DVD, the promotional DVD, the Australian VHS, the Malaysian VCD, the Malaysian DVD, the Dutch DVD or the Philippine DVD.

“Dear Thomas and all the engines, please, can I meet you? My friends say they would like to meet you, too. You could come to my house for tea, but my mummy says there aren't any railway tracks to my house. Can you come to the station instead? Thank you very much!”
―The little girl's letter

Thomas and the Special Letter is the twenty-second episode of the fourth series and the 100th episode of Thomas & Friends. It is based on the story The Fat Controller's Engines from the Railway Series book The Eight Famous Engines.


After taking his last train of the day, Thomas meets up with Percy and Toby and it turns out that all three engines have been asked to report to the big station after the day's work is done. Thomas thinks something is happening and is surprised to see BoCo, Mavis, Donald, Douglas, Bill, Ben and Oliver all travel past, also heading for the station; Thomas, Percy and Toby are now very curious and follow the others.

At Tidmouth Sheds, the Fat Controller silences his engines whistling excitedly to tell them he recently received a letter from a little girl who lives in a Big City on the Mainland. She writes that she and her friends would like to meet Thomas and his friends and invites them to their local station. The Fat Controller tells the engines that a lot of children would like to meet them, so he will be taking his eight main engines to the Big City and putting them on display. The Fat Controller's engines blow their whistles excitedly again, prompting the Fat Controller to command silence again and he states that while the eight engines are gone, the rest will all be running the line and asks to show them what to do.

Oliver is due to take charge of Thomas' Branch Line and Thomas shows him what to do using some other coaches, as Annie and Clarabel will be going with Thomas to the city. Thomas gets overexcited and boasts about his race with Bertie to Oliver. But when he tries to demonstrate how he stopped just short of the buffers, he accidentally smashes through them and a fence, rolls down a slope and crashes through a brick wall, much to Oliver's surprise. No one is hurt, but Thomas' front end is badly damaged from the impact. The Fat Controller is called and sends some workmen to repair Thomas, but warns them that, unless he can be repaired in time, they will have to go to the city without him. While the other engines see Thomas being rescued, he is very sad and worried that he will miss out on the trip.

The next morning at 8:00 AM, the other engines are all ready to leave (with Percy and Toby travelling on flatbeds) but there is still no sign of Thomas yet. The Fat Controller agrees to wait one more minute for Thomas before they must leave. Finally repaired, Thomas puffs in just in time with Annie and Clarabel and the cavalcade of engines leave for their trip to the Big City. After having arrived at the city safely, the engines and coaches are lined up in a special shed, where many children come to meet them. Thomas tells Percy how glad he is that the little girl wrote to the Fat Controller, citing that pure happiness can come from nothing more than a letter.




  • Going by production order, this is the twenty-first episode of the fourth series.
  • At the sheds, the audio of the engines (notably Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Duck and the Scottish Twins) whistling was reused from the second series episode, The Deputation.
  • Behind the scenes footage for this episode was filmed for the 1995 documentary The Thomas the Tank Engine Man and it was revealed by David Mitton on the set that the engines were still heading to London like in the book that this episode originated from.
  • A reference to the first series episode,Thomas and Bertie is made in this episode.
  • The picture of Duke from the fourth series episode Bulldog can be seen in the Fat Controller's office.
  • According to a post on Britt Allcroft's Facebook page, this episode partially inspired the film, Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • In the Behind the Scenes footage, it shows Donald passing by Thomas, Percy and Toby, but for unknown reasons, he was replaced by Douglas. The narrator even refers to Douglas as Donald in the actual episode. Additionally, Stepney can be seen in the Big City shed.
  • The Mainland is referred to as the "Big City" in this episode.
  • This is the 100th episode of the series.
  • This is the first episode where the North Western Railway engines numbered 1-11 have appeared and/or spoken all together in an episode. Additionally, this was the only time until the special, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure to do so.
  • Despite their appearances in the episode, Edward and Duck do not appear in the nameboard sequence at the end of the episode in the Japanese dub.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Queen Elizabeth II until the twenty-fourth series episode, Thomas and the Royal Engine.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of the Elephant Keeper.
  • Thomas' accident is similar to a crash when an LB&SCR E4 0-6-2T tank engine No. 32493 also crashed into a wall, but the tank engine ran off from the turntable and crashed into the wall at Southern Region sheds.
  • This episode marks the only appearance of Bill and Ben in the fourth series.
  • BoCo regains his horn sound from the second series after when Daisy reused it in the previous episode.
  • This is the only episode in the US dub that George Carlin refers to a flatbed as a truck. However, this is the first time in the US dub that said term is mentioned.
  • The three-berth garage from TUGS appears at Tidmouth Sheds.
  • The events of this episode are mentioned by Thomas in the special, The Great Race and Gordon in the special, Big World! Big Adventures! during the song, Where in the World is Thomas?
  • Nearly all the engines on the North Western Railway introduced so far are together in this episode, except for Diesel and Daisy. This is due to Daisy and BoCo sharing the same chassis in the model era.
  • This episode marks the only appearance of The Small Shunting Yard in the television series.
  • This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of Oliver's concerned/surprised face that was unused from the third series.
  • This is the first Series 4 episode released in Canada.


  • When Douglas whistles, "Good evening, you three! Aren't we all a fine sight?" the narrator refers to him as Donald.
  • When Douglas passes through Elsbridge, he is missing his brake pipe.
  • When the engines parade past Thomas, Percy and Toby, there are a couple of incorrect whistle/horn sounds:
    • Mavis has Class 40's horn sound.
    • Donald has Duck's whistle sound.
    • Oliver has Ben's whistle sound.
    • Douglas has Thomas' whistle ten steps lower pitched.
  • In Toby's third close-up, his face is loose.
  • In the close-up of Thomas' driver, Thomas appears to be pulling a red coach instead of Annie.
  • In the Dutch dub, the audio is out of sync.
  • When Thomas and Percy first leave Elsbridge, Toby is not in his siding, but Henrietta is still there, and his bell can be heard. In addition, they went the opposite way when they went to the station, rather than follow the other engines.
  • In the UK dub, when the Fat Controller calls, "Silence!" he sounds muffled both times. In the US dub, he sounds clear.
  • In the close-ups of the Fat Controller giving the announcement, Duck's funnel is a different shape and his face is missing.
  • Some of the engines' eyes are misaligned in the horizontal scan of Tidmouth Sheds.
  • In the close-up of Thomas at Tidmouth Sheds, Percy's right lamp iron is bent.
  • In the Danish dub, when Thomas and Oliver are shunting coaches, the narrator mistakes Oliver for Percy.
  • When Thomas starts talking to Oliver, some of the steam from his funnel disappears, indicating a film cut.
  • The buffers Thomas destroys are placed quite a distance ahead of where the track actually ends.
  • When Thomas goes through the buffers they go underneath his wheels, but in the next shot, they are on top of his running board. Both pieces of the buffers fall off when Thomas rolls down the embankment, but when he crashes through the wall, the piece on the left side of his running board (viewer's right) has reappeared.
  • Henry's lamp is not on the lamp iron.
  • As Henry leaves Elsbridge, one of his bogie wheels is loose.
  • When James leaves Elsbridge, his eyes are misaligned.
  • The overhead shot of the engines in the Big City shed appears to be mirrored, as indicated by the fact that Thomas, Henry and Duck's lamps are on the wrong sides of their fronts and that Toby's bell is on the wrong side of his roof.
  • At Elsbridge, and the Big City shed, Percy's cab roof is lifted slightly.


Percy: Are you on your way to the big station, Thomas?
Thomas: Yes, I am. Why?
Percy: Because I'm going there too.
Thomas: I think something's up.
Toby: [looks up at the sky] Where?
Thomas: [laughs] Not up there, down here!
Toby: How come something be up, when it's down?
Thomas: Bust my buffers! Look over there!
[he finds Mavis, BoCo, Bill, Ben, Donald, Oliver and Douglas parading past]
Douglas: Ged evenin', ye three! Aren't we all a fine sight?
Toby: Very splendid, indeed.
Douglas: Sorry we can't stop. The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt wants us all together at the station.
Thomas: What is this about?
Driver: The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt has a plan. Come on.
[the three engines follow the cavalcade to the big station at the end of the line]

The Fat Controller: SILENCE! I have an important letter to read from a little girl who is 5 years old.
Letter: Dear Thomas and all the engines, please can I meet you? My friends say they would like to meet you, too. You can come to my house for tea, but my mummy says there aren't any railway tracks to my house. Can you come to the station instead? Thank you very much!
The Fat Controller: It seems that there are many girls and boys who would like to meet you. Therefore, we are all going to the big city far away!
Engines: Hooray! Hooray!
The Fat Controller: Silence! Other engines will be working here while you're away, so please show them what to do.

Narrator: Thomas grew more and more excited. Too excited for his own good.
Thomas: I'm glad I'm a splendid engine. The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt thinks I'm really useful! I had a race with Bertie once. I whooshed through the tunnel and stopped an inch from the buffers!
Narrator: Then Thomas made his mistake.
Thomas: Just like this!
[Thomas smashes right through the buffers and a fence, rolls down a slope and crashes into a wall, damaging his front from the impact]
Narrator: No one was hurt, but Thomas' front was badly bent.
[The yard manager telephones the Fat Controller in his office]
The Fat Controller: I'll send up the workmen. But if they can't mend Thomas in time, we'll have to go to the big city without him.
Narrator: Poor Thomas!

The Fat Controller: I'll wait one more minute for Thomas and then we have to go.
[Thomas immediately shows up]
Thomas: Oh, thank goodness you're still here!
Annie and Clarabel: I hope we're not late as it's just after eight.
[the guard blows his whistle and waves his green flag]
Engines: Look out, big city, here we come!

Thomas: [to Percy] I'm glad the little girl wrote to us. Isn't it wonderful what happiness a letter can bring?


In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 托马斯和特别来信
Czech Tomáš a Zvláštní Dopis
Danish Thomas og Brevet
Dutch Thomas en de Speciale Brief
Finnish Tuomas ja Tärkeä Kirje
German Ein ganz spezieller Brief
Greek Ένα ξεχωριστό γράμμα
Hungarian Thomas és a Különleges Levél
Italian Una Lettera Speciale
Japanese トーマスととくべつなてがみ
Korean 편지 한 통이 가져온 기쁨
Latin American Spanish Thomas y una Carta muy Especial
Norwegian Thomas og det Spesielle Brevet
Polish Tomek i Ważny List (Original)
Tomek i Specjalny List (Alternate)
Romanian Thomas şi Scrisoarea Specială
Russian Томас и специальное письмо
Slovenian Tomaž in Prav Posebno Pismo
Swedish Thomas och Särskild Skrivelse
Ukrainian Томас i особливий лист
Welsh Tomos a'r Llythyr Arbennig

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets



  • Thomas and the Special Letter and Other Stories

DVD Packs


  • Thomas and the Special Letter and other stories
  • Story and Song Collection





DVD Boxsets








DVD Boxsets



  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4