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“Look out, you silly little tram! And learn your signals!”
―Gordon

Signals Crossed is the fifth episode of the eighteenth series.

Plot

One morning, Toby is rolling very slowly along the line towards Knapford with Henrietta. Toby is going so slow that Henrietta is concerned that they will not be on time to pick up the workmen at Knapford for the quarry. Toby says he is going slow to admire the view, but Henrietta knows the real reason; Toby is worried about the complexity of Knapford Junction. Toby admits that she is right, but Henrietta assures him that everything will be fine.

When they arrive at Knapford Junction, Toby is confused. He does not know which signal on the gantry is his. Henrietta reminds Toby that red means stop and green means go. When a signal turns green, Toby rolls forward and almost collides with Gordon. Toby reverses for another go and when two signals turn green, he rushes forwards. This time, he narrowly avoids hitting Henry. Toby tries again and almost hits Hiro this time. All morning, Toby tries to get to the station but keeps getting cut off by other engines. Toby finds himself getting more and more confused as the signals keep changing. Henrietta starts to get impatient, so Toby shuts his eyes and charges towards the station. He keeps his eyes closed and speeds straight past the platform, abandoning the workmen and ignoring Thomas.

Toby ends up on a siding, behind a signal box. Henrietta asks if they are hiding, but Toby insists he is just resting. Then, Thomas arrives and also asks if Toby is hiding. Toby pretends he is counting the bricks in the signal box, but eventually admits that he is indeed hiding. Thomas knows that it is because of Knapford Junction. Toby explains that the place confuses him and is so busy. Thomas tells Toby that he only needs to look at the signal directly above his line. Toby still thinks getting to Knapford Station is too big of a challenge for such a small tram until Thomas reminds him that he is not just any tram; he is the number seven brown tram engine who can do anything.

Toby soon arrives at Knapford Station where the Fat Controller is waiting for him. The Fat Controller is concerned that the workmen will not get to the quarry on time, but Toby assures him that he will get them there. Toby pulls away and stops at the junction which is now busier than ever. Henrietta reminds him about Thomas' piece of advice and Toby checks the signal directly above his line and it is red. Toby waits, but the signal does not turn green. The workmen start to get annoyed, as does James who pulls up right behind Toby. James is sure the signal must be green by now and pushes Toby who slams on his brakes and refuses to move. Then, the Fat Controller arrives and speaks severely to Toby who still insists that his signal is red. As the Fat Controller is giving Toby a lecture about signals, one of the Fat Controller's assistants whispers in the controller's ear. The Fat Controller realises that Toby had been right all along; the signal is still red, which means it must be broken. He praised Toby for not going through a red signal whilst Henrietta has James apologise to her and Toby.

Soon, the Fat Controller arranges for the signal to be fixed while a signalman works the junctions using flags. Ever since that day, Toby has never been afraid of Knapford Junction again.

Characters

  • Thomas
  • Henry
  • Gordon
  • James
  • Toby
  • Henrietta
  • Sir Topham Hatt
  • One of Sir Topham Hatt's Assistants
  • Some Workmen
  • Edward (does not speak)
  • Rosie (does not speak)
  • Hiro (does not speak)
  • Percy (cameo)
  • Oliver (cameo)
  • Emily (cameo)
  • Spencer (cameo)
  • Stanley (cameo)
  • Ferdinand (cameo)
  • Scruff (cameo)
  • Mavis (cameo)
  • 'Arry and Bert (cameo)
  • Toad (cameo)
  • Anopha Quarry Manager (cameo)
  • The Teacher (cameo)
  • The Bird Watcher (cameo)
  • The Ginger-haired Boy (cameo)
  • A Schoolgirl (cameo)
  • The Female Puppet Show Entertainer (cameo)
  • Connor (whistle only)

Locations

  • Knapford
  • Mavis' Shed
  • Ffarquhar Quarry

Cast

UK

  • Ben Small as Thomas and Toby
  • Keith Wickham as Henry, Gordon, James, The Fat Controller and The Fat Controller's assistant
  • Maggie Ollerenshaw as Henrietta

US

  • Martin Sherman as Thomas
  • Kerry Shale as Henry, Gordon, James and Sir Topham Hatt
  • William Hope as Toby
  • Maggie Ollerenshaw as Henrietta
  • Glenn Wrage as Sir Topham Hatt's assistant

Trivia

  • This episode marks the first of several things:
    • Henrietta's first appearance in the television series with a face, and her first speaking role since the second series episode, Daisy.
    • Oliver's first appearance in an episode and Toad's first appearance since the twelfth series episode, Gordon Takes a Shortcut and the latter's first appearance in full CGI.
    • The first time one of Sir Topham Hatt's assistants speaks, although he was just whispering.
    • The first time Ferdinand appears without Bash and Dash, he also appears, but does not speak and his first appearance since the sixteenth series episode, The Christmas Tree Express. It also marks his last appearance to date, excluding portrait cameos in episodes and specials.
    • 'Arry and Bert's first appearances in the Arc Productions switch and their first appearances since the sixteenth series episode, Bust My Buffers.
    • Maggie Ollerenshaw joins the voice cast for the first time.
  • This marks the only two things for Ferdinand:
    • His only appearance in the eighteenth series.
    • His only appearance in the Arc Productions switch to date.
  • The last two scenes of the episode were used for the Mr. Perkins' postcard segment, Knapford Station before the episode aired 4 months later in the UK and 1 year later in the US.
  • This title is a pun on the phrase "fingers crossed."
  • The complexity of signal gantries at bigger railway stations is also a problem in real life. Sometimes it is not always obvious which signal is for which track. Signal visibility when approaching Paddington Station and its many signals contributed to the Ladbroke Grove rail crash in the United Kingdom in 1999.

Goofs

  • When Emily and Spencer whistle at each other, no steam emits from Spencer's whistle.
  • As Emily departs from the station, a brake coach is at the front of the train, but in the next shot, it is at the back of the train.
  • As Gordon chuffs into Knapford before colliding into Toby, the latter is seen to be on the crossover on track four where the former could have hit him, and Henrietta disappears from behind Toby during the near-miss collision.
    • Shortly afterwards, Spencer can be seen leaving platform one with his brake coach appearing to be an express coach.
  • When Toby is about to go onto the junction, Henry whistles as if he is behind him, but he is not until a few shots later.
  • When Toby rushes through Knapford, Hiro has Connor's whistle sound instead of his own.
  • When Toby speeds past Thomas, his steam appears to go through Henrietta.
  • As Toby leaves Knapford Station to take the workmen to the quarry, Henry passes him through the junction. However, in the next shot, the latter puffs back into the station; this also occurs with Edward and Hiro.
  • There is an orange truck with scrap in the shed at Knapford completely missing its undercarriage and is floating in mid-air.

Merchandise

  • Magazine stories - Signals Crossed
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