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- “Sheep to market, children to farm, chickens to school.”
- ―Thomas in a tired muddle
Chickens to School is the twenty-fourth (eighteenth in Australia) episode of the eighth season.
One summer night, Thomas is busy taking coal trucks to the Coaling Plant and is very tired by the time he arrives back at Tidmouth Sheds in the morning. Thomas wishes that he had some assistance with the coal delivery, but Gordon tells Thomas that a really useful engine does not need help. Just then, the Fat Controller arrives as he requires an engine to carry out three jobs. Thomas decides to carry out the three jobs, despite being tired. His three jobs are to take chickens to market, sheep to the farm, and the children to school. Gordon remarks that three jobs is too much for Thomas and he will need assistance. But Thomas tells him that tank engines do not need help at all.
So Thomas sets off with Annie, Clarabel, and two vans. He collects the chickens from the farm, the sheep from the valley, and the children from the station. Thomas carries on with his journey up and over Gordon's Hill and through Henry's Tunnel. Throughout the journey, he reminds himself where he is going. However, the tiredness starts getting the better of him and he gets into a muddle.
At the station where the market is being held, Thomas tells the lorry drivers to unload the sheep, instead of the chickens. Then Emily arrives and sees Thomas looking tired, so she offers to help. But Thomas turns it down, though he is very sleepy. After the market, Thomas goes onto Farmer McColl's and tells the children it is their stop. Finally at the school, Thomas delivers the chickens, much to the confusion of the school teachers.
Thomas heads off for home, but not before the Fat Controller receives phone calls about the sheep making a mess at market, the children getting muddy at the farm, and the chickens messing up the classrooms. The Fat Controller tells Thomas what happened and that he needs to put everything right, but this time with help. Thomas then tells the Fat Controller what Gordon said earlier - a really useful engine never needs help. Edward remarks that he is always helping Gordon up the hill, which makes Gordon blush with embarrassment.
Thomas sets off with Edward and Percy helping him. Edward takes the chickens from the school to market, Percy takes the sheep from the market to the farm, and Thomas collects the children from the farm and brings them to the school. That night, Thomas finally gets some much needed sleep in Tidmouth Sheds.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Henry (does not speak)
- Percy (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- James (cameo)
- Caroline (cameo)
- Stephen Hatt (cameo)
- Farmer McColl (mentioned)
- Tidmouth Sheds
- The School
- McColl Farm
- Henry's Tunnel
- Gordon's Hill
- The Windmill
- Sir Topham Hatt's Office
- Mr. Jolly's Chocolate Factory
- The Coaling Plant (mentioned)
- Stock footage from Thomas and the Circus is used.
- The flags of the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, India, and Russia can be seen in the school.
- According to a magazine poster, the farmer with the sheep is Farmer Collett, who appears in several magazine stories.
- The book Thomas' Busy Day shows that Percy was originally going to have a larger role as he saw Thomas was tired while waiting at a junction and asked Thomas if he needed any help, but Thomas said he didn't need help.
- In The Complete Series 8 DVD, the last bit of music at the end after the narrator finished narrating is omitted.
- Going by production order, this is the eighteenth episode of the eighth season.
- Edward saying that he always helped Gordon up the hill might be a referenced to the first season episode Edward and Gordon, the sixth season episode Edward the Very Useful Engine, and the eighth season episode You Can Do it, Toby!.
- This episode marks the last appearance of Henry's Tunnel until The Great Discovery.
- In the stop-motion animation sequence of the teachers unloading the chickens, the end van moves.
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