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“Oh well. My driver told me about circus people who walk tightropes, but I just didn't fancy doing it myself!”

Toby's Tightrope is the fifteenth episode of the third series. It is based on the story of the same name from Tramway Engines.


Percy arrives at the quarry to pick up stone for his trucks. The only other engine in the quarry at the moment is Mavis who is sheltering between rocks looking miserable. Percy tells the young diesel to cheer up, but she explains that her manager found out about her going down Toby's line and causing trouble and has confined her to the quarry. She calls Toby a fusspot again, angering Percy who tells her that Toby knows a lot about trucks and that they must be left where he wants them. Percy then leaves to take his trucks to the harbour. Although Mavis likes Percy, she still does not understand why she cannot go down the line.

The siding arrangements at the quarry are very awkward and Mavis is forced to make several journeys to put the trucks in the correct place. Mavis is desperate to leave the quarry and makes a plan. She starts by telling her driver the work would be a lot easier if she could use a small part of Toby's line. Her driver, suspecting nothing, agrees and allows her to go as far as the first level crossing.

The weather changes, with the snow and ice melting away. This causes an increase in work and Mavis takes trains that can be so long that she has to go beyond the level crossing. She decides to go ahead with her plan to go further down the line without making it look like her fault and asks the trucks to bump her at the level crossing. The trucks agree; however, things go wrong when Toby arrives while she is gone and decides to shunt them himself. The trucks decide to bump Toby instead and when Toby reaches the level crossing the trucks push him down the line.

Melted ice and snow had caused the river on Toby's line to become a torrent and it washes away a crumbling wooden bridge after a log collides with it but leaves the rails behind which form a tightrope across the abyss. Toby's driver fights for control and by the time Toby is finally able to stop, he is on the "tightrope" precariously above the water, ready to fall any second as more pieces of the bridge crumble into the torrent.

When Mavis hears what has happened, she is horrified and immediately goes to help. Toby is anchored to some rocks with chains as Mavis takes away the trucks. Eventually she is able to pull Toby to safety and later apologises about what happened with the trucks. Toby thanks Mavis, telling her that he does not fancy walking any tightropes again.

The Fat Controller sees Mavis later and congratulates her for doing well in an emergency. Mavis admits she was responsible for the trucks' behaviour but asks if she can still use Toby's line as Toby has offered to show her what to do. The Fat Controller agrees on the condition Mavis' manager allows her to, which he does. Mavis is now happier than ever and is considered to be a Really Useful Engine.




  • This is one of the few third series episodes to use the train brake sound effect from the 20th Century Fox Film sound effects library.
  • Both this episode and its previous episode aired on Christmas Day 1991 in the United States.
  • In the later UK version, the music is more faint when Mavis pulled the trucks away and rescues Toby.


  • Michael Angelis' first narration of this episode and George Carlin's refers to the chains as ropes.
  • When Toby backs down onto the trucks, his eyes are wonky.
  • In the restored version, a crew member's hand can be seen pushing the trucks when they surge against Toby.
  • In a photographic still, Toby's driver is smiling when Toby is being bumped by the trucks.
  • Percy's roof is lifted when he leaves the quarry.
  • When Mavis pulls Toby to safety, there are chains fastened to her cowcatchers. In the next shot, the chains that are fastened to her cowcatchers disappear and are replaced by a single chain fastened to Mavis' front coupling. The chains fastened to both her front coupling and cowcatchers all appear in the next shot.
  • When Mavis leaves her trucks, there are ten of them, but when Toby arrives, there are only seven. When the trucks are pushing Toby, there are only five.
  • In the beginning of the episode, some studio equipment is visible at the top of the screen.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese 托比的钢线表演
Czech Toby Provazochodec
Danish Toby Kommer i Fare
Dutch Toby de Koorddanser
Finnish Topi Nuorallatanssijana
German Toby in Gefahr
Greek Ο Τόμπι κινδυνεύει
Hungarian Toby a Kötéltáncos
Italian Sospeso nel Vuoto
Japanese トビーのつなわたり
Korean 토비의 줄타기 곡예
Norwegian Toby Havner i Vanskeligheter
Polish Jazda po Linie
Portuguese Toby em Perigo
Romanian Sârma lui Toby
Russian Тоби на канате
Serbian Tobijevo Zategnuto Uže
Slovak Toby Povrazochodec
Slovenian Tobi Se Znajde v Nevarnosti
Spanish Toby en la Cuerda Floja
Swedish Toby i Trubbel
Thai โทบี้เกือบตกสะพาน
Ukrainian Тобів канат
Welsh Rhaff Tobi

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets





DVD Boxsets

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series Three and Series Four Double Pack




DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets




  • Edward, Trevor and the Useful Party










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