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“A pond's the only place for a toad, I suppose...”

Busy Going Backwards is the twenty-third episode of the fifth season. It first aired in an airing of Storytime with Thomas in the US.


One day, Toad feels sad. He could see engines and coaches moving forwards, unlike he who could only see things from behind. He decides to talk to Oliver about his problem. He tells him that while he is always going backwards, he has forward thinking views and could be a leader. Gordon tells him that he cannot be a leader if he does not have a train to follow him, which makes Toad even more sad. Oliver tells him he is a really useful brake van, that he helps him brake and keeps trucks in order when they go down hills. Toad says it would still be nice to go forwards for a change. The trucks overhear everything Toad says and are cross that he does not appreciate looking after them and vow to pay him back for his words.

So when Oliver takes a goods train up Gordon's Hill, and when they near the top, the trucks' chance comes, and break away the coupling from Oliver and go careering back down the line. The guard jumps off his post and leaves a helpless Toad in a state of shock. At first, Toad enjoys his journey travelling forwards, but his enjoyment is short lived as he crashes through a closed crossing gate, nearly hitting Bertie who went through just moments earlier. Then, he finds out he is on the wrong track, and narrowly avoids Gordon with the help of a nearby signalman. Then, he sees James coming down the line with a slow goods train. A shunter switches Toad off James' line just in time, leaving James perplexed at what just happened. The signalman calls ahead to the stationmaster at the next station. The stationmaster tells the signalman he will divert Toad and the trucks into a siding. His plan works, but Toad is diverted back onto the main line after a points failure.

Meanwhile, Oliver is racing to Toad's aid. Toad speeds past Henry, and reaches a bridge under repairs. Luckily, the workmen have been warned about the runaway and divert Toad into a siding leading into a pond. Though Toad is now dirty, he is relieved that he has been stopped. Oliver arrives and jokes about the situation.

That night, Toad speaks to Oliver, saying he is sorry if he caused him embarrassment. Oliver asks him what he thought of going forwards; Toad tells him it was a fun experience, but he will look forward to remaining backwards from now on. Toad now appreciates seeing everything from behind.




  • This episode is based on a couple of "hair-raising" runaway trains in the Tondu valleys that occurred during David Maidment's time as Area Manager in South Wales.
  • A rendition of the William Tell Overture (Finale) is heard throughout the runaway. The piece would be reused twice, in Thomas the Jet Engine and the original version of Rheneas and the Roller Coaster.
  • A rare picture shows Oliver passing through Tidmouth Hault, marking its last appearance in the series.
  • The picture of Duke from Bulldog can be seen in the signal box.
  • The close-up shot of Toad when he says "Oh no, I'm back on the main line!" is mirrored.
  • This episode marks Crosby station's last appearance to date.
  • The Märklin Engine's wheel chassis were seen pushing Toad and his train of trucks past the buffers that were set away by the points. A scrap cab piece from the Marklin engine can be seen by the pond.
  • The brick portion of the Skarloey Railway Engine Sheds appears behind Gordon during the runaway sequence.
  • Dryaw Goods Station appears at the pond.
  • This is the last episode to feature W&LLR trucks with faces.
  • Toby's Shed from the first season and the barn Thomas crashed into in Bye George! can be seen when James is puffing along the Main Line.


  • When Toad rolls to the bottom of Gordon's Hill, from his point of view, the edge of the scenery can be seen.
  • When Toad switches lines to avoid Gordon, the track ends in bushes.
  • In the beginning of the episode, the tracks ends behind Wellsworth.
  • In the distant shot of Toad being switched to the track with the buffers, seconds before the camera cuts, Toad and the front two trucks derail.
  • A string can be seen when Toad goes out of the siding.
  • Before Toad switches to another track to avoid James, he is on the middle track. Footage of the close up of Toad shutting his eyes before hitting the crossing, has been reused with Toad on the right track, not the middle track.
  • After Toad avoids James, a works coach moves from in front of the points to behind the points.
  • When Toad swerves away from the buffers and back onto the main line, the mechanism pushing him and the trucks is seen. It looks similar to the chassis of an unaltered Märklin model with the red wheels and valve gear. This may have been what happened to The Märklin Engine.
  • When Oliver rushes under the Wellsworth footbridge, part of the fencing is bent.
  • The narrator says "they diverted [Toad] onto old sidings" rather than "they diverted [Toad] onto an old siding."
  • One of Gordon's back buffers is slightly turned after Toad passes him.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, in the shot from his point of view, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner.
  • The truck who says, "We're making your wish come true, Toad!" is missing one of his eyebrows.
  • When Toad cries "EYYOIIIKES!!!" (James says "Oh my goodness!" in the US version), a white thing can be seen under his left eyebrow and fades out.
  • Oliver's trucks keep changing throughout the duration of the episode.
  • For most of the chase sequence, Toad only has one tail lamp.
  • Henry is shocked long before Toad passes him.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, his roof was spotless while part of his body was mud-covered. But when he was talking with Oliver at the sheds, his roof was mud-covered while part of his body was spotless.
  • The track arrangements at Oliver's shed changes between the day and night sequences.
  • In a rare photo of the trucks in the yard, the shed behind them is not positioned properly as the tracks go underneath it and the bottom of the shed is not touching the ground.
  • Some studio equipment can be seen at the pond.
  • The Crosby signal box says Callan.

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