Series 8

R Healy

Quote Of The Series

"Wishing Trees don't run Railways! That's MY job!"
Henry & The Wishing Tree

A Bit About Series 8

Series 8 was a rebirth for Thomas and Friends.  After 20 years and seven series with the same format, the programme was taken by the roots and given a complete face-lift.
The first of these major changes was the episode running time, which went from five minutes to seven, so, as HIT Entertainment correspondants reported, could give the episode a proper "Beginning, Middle and End".  The second major change was the way the programme was filmed, changing over from the traditional 35mm film used by many other programmes, in favour of new BetaCam SP technology instead, which provides for a more fluid transistion throughout.  Direction from here on in was to be done by Steve Asquith.
The themes for the series changed too, from the familiar tunes and title theme composed by Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell, instead came Robert Hartshorne's new brand of compositions for the newly reborn series.  And as another measure, the position of songwriter was left up to the well known Ed Welch, who provided the new theme tune - "Engine Roll Call".
As a means of re-establishing the core essence of the show as Rev Awdry created it, HIT Entertainment streamlined the cast of this new series.  The original locomotive characters from Series 1 were to play starring roles, alongside their new eighth member of "The Steam Team" - Emily - who was to take up the role of a strong female influence within the series, which the creative team felt the show lacked previously.
And as the series returned to screens in America, it became necessary to invent a new format for it to work from.  Hence the introduction of the Interactive Interstitials, an enjoyable educational tool for young children.  Presumably, these were meant to be part of the scrapped series called "Learning With Thomas", but obviously put to other use to compliment the new episodes within a half-hour programme with two seven minute stories and a re-composed five minute one from series 7, a few interstitials as well as songs, each item pertaining to one major theme/moral.  This half-hour format has been shown on America's PBS and on the UK children's satellite channel, Nick Jr UK.

Characters Introduced In Series 8


Songs Of The Series







A World Around You






Ode to Gordon


Engine Roll Call


Michael Angelis (UK)
Michael Brandon (US)

Key Production Team

Jocelyn Stevenson
Simon Spencer
Robert Hartshorne
Ed Welch

Steve Asquith

Series 8 of Thomas & Friends will always stick in the mind of fans as a shock to the system.  At the time, it marked the biggest change to the series since it’s conception in 1984 and turned a lot of fans off the idea of Thomas.  If you were a part of the fandom at the time, you’ll recall the reaction – it wasn’t favourable, and unlike the CGI changeover, we had no real prior warning to these massive changes.

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Series 8 Episode Guide

Paul Larson & Abi Grant
Sam Barlow
8.1 - Thomas To The Rescue
Written by Abi Grant & Paul Larson
Thomas is sent by The Fat Controller to help Mavis with work at the quarry - but he isn't pleased when he finds that Diesel is also working there. Diesel constantly insults Thomas, and brags of Diesel Engines' "superiority". All that ends when the diesel engines on Sodor receive fuel contaminated with water, and Thomas ends up delivering clean replacement fuel.
8.2 - Henry & The Wishing Tree
Written by Abi Grant & Paul Larson
As of late, Henry has mostly been responsible for goods trains and (particularly after Gordon insults him for this) he wishes to pull passengers for a change. Thomas tells him of the 'Sodor Wishing Tree'- where Henry makes a wish to pull the Express in Gordon's place.  He returns to Tidmouth Sheds where The Fat Controller tells him he will be taking the Express in Gordon's place the next day.  Upon his return to Express work, Henry does not give a very smooth ride - and the passengers begin to wish for Gordon, who is receiving a new boiler at the repair yard.  Henry is scolded by the Fat Controller for his poor performance on the Express run, and after bumping the Dining Coach at the station and upsetting its insides - he begins wishing to return to Goods Work.  The Fat Controller and Thomas find him running late, trying to find the Wishing Tree - where the Fat Controller makes it clear that Gordon is receiving a new boiler and will be back at work the following day.  Henry is relieved and the passengers are pleased to have Gordon back - but even though the Fat Controller was dismissive of the Wishing Tree having powers, Henry still makes one last wish - just in case!
8.3 - Thomas & The Tuba Player
Written by Dave Ingham
The Fat Controller is planning a birthday party for Lady Hatt, complete with a brass band from the mainland. Thomas gets the job of delivering the band to the party (to the disappointment of Gordon & James) but when the Tuba Player is left behind in haste, Thomas worries that he may ruin the party- and begins searching for the Tuba Player all over the Island.  The Tuba Player meanwhile is making his own way by getting lifts with Bertie the bus, Elizabeth the Quarry Lorry and Trevor the Traction Engine - and each time, Thomas keeps missing the Tuba Player!  After an incident in the yard, where Thomas hits Percy's trucks, Harvey encourages Thomas to look for the Tuba Player by listening out for him - and sure enough, Thomas finds him riding on Trevor on the way to the party.  He makes one final mad dash, and delivers the Tuba Player just in time.
8.4 - Squeak, Rattle & Roll
Written by Marc Seal
Diesel tries to belittle Gordon and tells him that steam engines are obsolete and ready for scrapping, but Gordon isn't convinced.  Soon, however, he begins making a variety of unusual noises and is worried that Diesel might be right!  He soon finds that the problem of noise is solved by moving slowly - but when he is assigned the job of delivering children to an excursion steamer for a boat trip he has to choose between hiding his problems or pleasing the children and The Fat Controller!  Gordon knows what is important and despite his squeak, rattle and knock, makes it to the Docks in time for children to catch their boat.  And in spite of Diesel's teasing, the Fat Controller is still confident that all Gordon needs is some repairs to make him really useful again.
8.5 - Thomas & The Firework Display
Written by Abi Grant & Paul Larson
Thomas is sulking when James is awarded the task of delivering fireworks for Sodor's Harvest Festival. James, on the other hand, couldn't be more pleased. That is, until he breaks down! Thomas is sent to help bring the train to its destination, but James refuses to comply - until reminded of the children.  As Thomas and James make their way back to Knapford station, they find that Gordon is due to leave with the children and the party is to be cancelled.  Desperate for it to continue - Thomas and James decide to send up a rocket to alert the Fat Controller that they're on their way.  The party goes ahead, and Thomas and James find that they are most useful when they work together.
8.6 - Percy's New Whistle
Written by James Mason
While Percy is making a delivery to the quarry, 'Arry and Bert make fun of his whistle; blowing their horns loudly to show off. Percy is upset, and he begins practicing loud whistling until he perfects a long, ear-splitting whistle.  Later, he suprises the diesel twins and is so pleased with himself that he tries to suprise everyone else.  As a result, he sends Bertie off the road, causes Thomas to damage his trucks, and startles Trevor into sending a log down a hill - forming into a giant snowball that hits Percy!  This gets him into trouble with The Fat Controller, who orders Percy not to do anymore silly whistling.  However, Percy's loud whistle proves vital when he uses it in an emergency to prevent Thomas from colliding with a snow drift.
8.7 - Too Hot For Thomas
Written by Paul Larson
While Toby and James are delivering children to the seaside, Thomas has to deliver ingredients to the ice cream factory. He feels left out and wishes he could be taking children - so tries hurrying to finish so that he can.  But his hurrying causes trouble, with Thomas being diverted down the wrong line and ingredients being spilled out of trucks when he tries to move off too soon.
Eventually, he arrives back at the Factory thinking his job is nearly done - but the Manager informs him that he needs to take the finished product to the seaside for him.  Disappointed, Thomas puffs on to the sea - and is greeted to a chorus of cheers from the delighted children waiting at the station for the fresh ice cream!  Thomas soon cheers up when he sees how happy the children are, and decides that delivering ice cream is a fun job after all.
8.8 - Emily's Adventure
Written by Paul Larson
 A destructive storm hits Sodor, and Farmer McColl needs timber to repair the roof of his barn.  Emily is chosen to deliver it, but she encounters many obstacles from the storm on the way as everyone tries to clear the damage.  Becoming impatient, she decides to belittle the efforts of everyone else, including Trevor and the workmen, by whistling at them and ordering them to work faster.  This works, until she encounters Elizabeth, who refuses to hurry up for someone as rude as Emily when clearing a water tower from the line.  Thomas encourages Emily to ask Elizabeth nicely, and when she does - Elizabeth happily sets to work again and finishes the job.  Emily learns that being kind and courteous was the best solution to her problem.
8.9 - Edward the Great
Written by Abi Grant
The Duke and Duchess of Boxford are back on Sodor for the Summer, and they've brought Spencer back with them. Spencer is taking them to their Summer home, but Edward is chosen by The Fat Controller to deliver their furniture, much to the disappointment of Gordon and James particularly who want to take the wind out of Spencer's sails by having a race.  Edward takes a slow and steady pace, while cocky Spencer goes speeding ahead.  However, Edward doesn't give up and keeps on going.  Spencer, thinking that he's won the race settles down for a sleep while the Duke goes off to take photographs - and wakes up just in time to see Edward slip round the bend to the Summer House!  Trying in vain to make up for lost ground, he finds that he can't as the old track won't allow him to go fast... Edward wins the race and proves his doubters wrong!
8.10 - James Goes Too Far
Written by James Mason
The Fat Controller asks James to deliver coal to heat the stations. He is quite proud of this, and believes that he can not afford to wait or help others.  As a result, he leaves Edward to fend for himself when he asks James for help to deliver slate trucks. 
But when his rush to bring the coal to the stations on time causes him to run out of water, James finds this was a mistake as Edward is now unable to help him as he's late with his passenger train.  Salty is sent to push him to the nearest water tower, and when he asks why James is stranded with no water, he explains that because he had the most important job on the Island.  Salty firmly reminds James that no job is more important than helping another engine, and scolds him for not helping Edward earlier.  Later, he remembers this when he sees Diesel broken down, and he goes out of his way to help Diesel before finishing his job.
8.11 - Percy & The Magic Carpet
Written by Abi Grant
Percy is sent to collect a carpet for a visit by Alicia Botti. Salty tells him that it could be a magic carpet, and when the wind begins to blow it off its flatbed, Percy begins to believe that it is. Percy chases the carpet as it lands on Murdoch's goods train, Toby's roof, and eventually the tracks that Thomas is approaching on.  Percy tries using magic words, and soon finds that the word 'Please' is the one that seemingly lifts the carpet from the line and back onto his flatbed.  Securely fastened again, Percy gets it to Maithwaite in time for Alicia Botti.  But despite The Fat Controller telling them otherwise, Percy and Gordon reckon that the carpet could well be magic!
8.12 - You Can Do It Toby
Written by Paul Larson
Toby begins to feel inferior to the other engines following an insult made by Gordon about him not being a proper engine.  When the Fat Controller asks him to stand in for Edward at Wellsworth, Toby slowly regains confidence as he works.  However, when he realises he'll have to push Gordon up the hill, he begins to lose his nerve.  However, with determination, Toby shows Gordon he's as good as any steam engine!
8.13 - Gordon Takes Charge
Written by Paul Larson
Busy times require the Fat Controller to ask Percy to pull passengers, however, the little green engine hasn't done so in a while.  The Fat Controller tells Gordon to give Percy a refresher course to show him what to do.  Gordon is highly critical of Percy's performance throughout, until of course he loses track of what he's doing himself and runs into a snowdrift.  At the end of the day, Percy has mastered the techniques of pulling passengers, and even Gordon agrees that he's done well, and even goes as far to compliment himself in the proceedings!
8.14 - James Gets A New Coat
Written by Abi Grant
James becomes heavily conceited when he is given a new coat of paint. But he feels so ‘above himself’ that when given the task of helping Percy bring some coal trucks down to the harbour, he spends more time looking at his reflection in the canal and showing off to the others that he causes major delays. James is made to catch up time by taking extra loads, but along the way the trucks have ideas of their own. By the end of his rocky journey, James is in a much less presentable state, and would rather that other engines didn't see him.  But by the end of the journey, he cannot help but laugh.  
8.15 - Thomas Saves The Day
Written by James Mason
A new station is being built and every morning it is Thomas’ task to take the workmen to the site aboard Annie and Clarabel. Along the route, he encounters a tricky bend in the line, but with the help of his coaches he always makes it successfully. However, when Annie and Clarabel are sent for an overhaul, Thomas begins to worry that he may not be able to handle the bend without them. When some troublesome trucks break away from Edward's train, Thomas must tackle the bend alone if he is to prevent a serious accident.  Thomas makes it round by recalling Annie and Clarabel's advice and makes it to the new station just in time to alert the Signalman about the runaway trucks!
8.16 - Percy's Big Mistake
Written by Abi Grant

Percy’s working schedule often causes him to be late. One night he overhears the Fat Controller saying that he must go to the scrap yard, and Percy’s naivety gets the better of him. The following day, he is determined to ‘redeem’ himself – but instead, causes pipes to fall from a flatbed truck, and when delivering drums full of tar, ends up running into Gordon!  Realising he’ll soon be in trouble, Percy runs away to hide.

When Thomas and the Fat Controller come to sort out the mess, Thomas explains why Percy has been so upset.  The Fat Controller is concerned, and organises a search to find Percy.  And when Thomas eventually finds him hiding in the sheds, the Fat Controller explains what he really meant – that Percy was to take some trucks to the scrap yard before taking the rest of the week off to pull the mail train solely as a rest from his busy schedule. 

8.17 - Thomas, Emily & The Snowplough
Written by Abi Grant
The winter season arrives on Sodor, but Thomas gets annoyed at Emily when she starts bossing him about. Eventually, he goes tiered of her complaints and decides to ignore her all together. But when he ignores her warning to have his snowplough fitted, Thomas soon finds himself stranded in a thick blizzard. Emily comes to his rescue, but it is not until the Fat Controller scolds them both for their mistakes that they choose to put aside their differences.
8.18 - Don't Tell Thomas!
Written by Paul Larson
During winter, Thomas has worked hard to help clear the snow from the tracks. But one day he notices his friends acting very peculiar—chattering behind his bunker, delivering special goods like presents and a Christmas tree and repeating the phase: “Don’t Tell Thomas!” to each other. By the end of the day, Thomas is so annoyed that no one will tell him, he goes off in a huff. But later that night, Harold the Helicopter finds him sulking in a siding and tells him that they were planning a Special Christmas Surprise as a way of saying “Thank You” for all his hard work in the snow. Thomas feels happy once again!
8.19 - Emily's New Route
Written by Paul Larson
The Fat Controller assigns a selection of new routes to the engines, and Emily is given the flour mill run. She is excited, and pleased to have not been given the infamous Black Loch route after hearing of the supposed horrors that lurk there. But after a chain of hiccups and an accident with the trucks, The Fat Controller puts Emily on the dreaded route as a punishment. Emily is nervous, but she soon learns that there is nothing to be afraid of when she discovers the true secrets of Black Loch are simply a family of seals!
8.20 - Spic & Span
Written by Marc Seal

A railway inspector is due to pay a visit and the engines are encouraged to stay presentable. The bigger engines are certain that they will have the upper hand, which makes Thomas and Percy determined to prove them wrong. However, as Thomas rushes to the wash down between a series of grubby tasks at the Quarry and Harbour, his chances of success are blocked by Gordon, James and Emily. It is not until an accident at the loading chute sends coal dust flying that there is any hope for the two smaller engines.

8.21 - Thomas & The Circus
Written by Abi Grant
The circus arrives on the island, and Thomas is sent to  collect the special trucks from the Harbour.  But he is warned to share the load, as it will be a difficult task to handle alone. Thomas becomes conceited and convinces himself that he can pull the heavy train without assistance, which results in embarrassing consequences as his siderods break off.  Luckily for him, James and Percy are on guard to have him some much-needed assistance after offering to help out previously. 
8.22 - Thomas Gets It Right
Written by Robin Rigby

A vicious storm means that the engines must ‘muck-in’ to clear the mess and restore the island to working order. Thomas is determined to get as many tasks completed as possible, but his chances are ‘slowed down’ when he is given the task of pulling a van of eggs to market – meaning that he must travel as slowly as possible so that they don’t break.  But when he sees how fast everyone else is allowed to go and sees how many jobs they are able to do, Thomas decides to speed up too.  As a result, he bumps over some jerky points and damages Farmer McColl's eggs.  Thomas soon learns to resist temptation, whilst having fun annoying James at the same time as he puffs up behind with a passenger train.

8.23 - As Good As Gordon
Written by Abi Grant
Emily is given the opportunity to pull the Express, and like those before her, she is determined to try and do it to the same standard as Gordon. But impatience gets the better of her.  She leaves before Bertie can arrive with his passengers, scolds Edward for going too slow and demands use of the water-tower ahead of James.  James stands his ground and Emily hurries off - without taking on more water.  As a result, she finds herself stranded on the Main Line.  James takes over the Express, while the Fat Controller asks Emily to take a slow goods train as a means of exercising her patience.  But deep down - she'd still rather do it faster!
8.24 - Fish (2004)
Written by Paul Larson

Thomas is sent to the fishing village to help Arthur bring a special load of fish down to the harbour. Arthur warns Thomas to take only five trucks at a time, as the route to the harbour is bumpy.  But Thomas is determined to get the smelly task completed quickly – and so buffers up to a huge line of trucks.  But on the way to the Docks, the trucks start their tricks and send Thomas flying down the hill – and they crash into Salty, spilling their loads all over him and the track!

The Fat Controller scolds Thomas and tells him to take only five trucks at a time from the collision point.  Thomas does so, and finishes the job with patience and care – just in time for the ship to sail off.

8.25 - Halloween
Written by Dave Ingham
At Halloween, the engines enjoy hearing scary stories about ghost-engines that haunt the scrap yard and smelters. Emily and Thomas think it is all nonsense, and intend to prove themselves when sent to the smelters yard for a special task on Halloween night. Arry and Bert decide to change their minds with a few some cheap tricks, but all four are in for an unexpected scare when a tarpaulin falls on Emily!  Thinking that a ghost has got her, Emily rushes from the Smelters and out into the yard, startling Thomas, 'Arry and Bert - and chases them down the line.  All is revealed when the tarpaulin becomes caught in a signal, and the 'ghost' is revealed to be Emily after all!  The Fat Controller arrives in his pyjamas and firmly reminds them all that there are no such things as ghosts - and sends 'Arry and Bert back to the Smelters to do Thomas and Emily's job for being so naughty with their teasing.
8.26 - Chickens To School
Written by Paul Larson
Poor Thomas has been working late the other night and is feeling very tired. The Fat Controller, however, doesn’t notice as he tells Thomas that he has three jobs to do today—he has to take chickens to market, sheep to the farm and children to school.
But he foolishly takes Gordon’s advice that “Really Useful Engines don’t need help!” and as he is very tired, he makes a lot of mistakes. He took Sheep to Market (Where they run amuck and eat the vegetables) Children to the farm (Where they get their uniforms very muddy) and chickens to school (where there is unmentionable chaos in the classroom!)
When the Fat Controller hears, he tells Thomas that he should have asked for help when he needed it.  Thomas tells him what Gordon said, and Edward laughs, stating that he helps Gordon up the hill all the time!  In the end, Edward and Percy assist in sorting out Thomas’ muddle and everything is set right with a minimum of fuss.