- “This is absurd! None of us know what job Dowager Hatt wants us to do next!”
”We’re all stuck here, waiting for her to finish pruning her pelargoniums!”
- ―James and Henry
Dowager Hatt's Busy Day is the third episode of the twenty-first season.
In the early morning at Tidmouth Sheds, the engines are ready for work. But then the Fat Controller arrives with a nasty cold. Luckily, his mother, Dowager Hatt arrives, scolding him for coming to run the railway while he is ill, and, despite having no knowledge or experience with running railways, decides to substitute for him.
After Dowager Hatt orders her son’s valets to take him home, she starts the day’s work by giving the engines their jobs, but she orders Thomas to collect her new hat from Brendam Docks rather than pulling Annie and Clarabel on his branch line, tasking Emily with the job, who had to take scrap to the scrap yard. Dowager Hatt tasks Gordon with Emily's job, sending Edward to collect a cake for her friend Lady Toffington, Percy to pull Gordon's express, and the other engines to do some random special jobs such as balloons, animals, etc. This creates a lot of confusion and delay, as many of the engines end up stuck at Knapford Station Yard.
Emily tells Dowager Hatt that there are certain engines that have their certain jobs and other engines that do not. With Emily's help, Dowager Hatt puts everything right. She puts Gordon back on express duty and sorts the engines back to their regular duties.
In the afternoon, the Fat Controller soon gets back from resting, feeling a lot better, he can see that his mother has run his railway very smoothly with Emily's help. However, Thomas arrives with the hat (after waiting at the docks all day), causing Dowager Hatt to push her son into his office to have a tea break before he can question Thomas. Emily is glad that everyone is back doing their proper jobs, except for Philip who is working at the Ulfstead Mine as the lights go off leaving him in the dark.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Dowager Hatt
- Toby (cameo)
- Donald and Douglas (cameo)
- Diesel (cameo)
- 'Arry (cameo)
- Salty (cameo)
- Den (cameo)
- Paxton (cameo)
- Clarabel (cameo)
- Slip Coaches (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- A Workman (cameo)
- The Teacher (cameo)
- One of Dowager Hatt's Friends (cameo)
- The Great Railway Show Judge (cameo)
- Knapford Station Yard
- Sir Topham Hatt's Office
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Brendam Docks
- Sodor Shipping Company
- Gordon's Hill
- Ulfstead Mine
- Vicarstown (mentioned)
- Crocks Scrap Yard (mentioned)
- John Hasler as Thomas
- Keith Wickham as Edward, Henry, Gordon, the Fat Controller and Dowager Hatt
- Rob Rackstraw as James
- Nigel Pilkington as Percy
- Teresa Gallagher as Emily and Annie
- Rasmus Hardiker as Philip
- Matt Wilkinson as Cranky
- Joseph May as Thomas
- William Hope as Edward
- Kerry Shale as Henry and Gordon
- Rob Rackstraw as James
- Christopher Ragland as Percy
- Jules de Jongh as Emily
- Rasmus Hardiker as Philip
- Teresa Gallagher as Annie
- Glenn Wrage as Cranky
- Keith Wickham as Sir Topham Hatt and Dowager Hatt
- Several references to past episodes are made:
- The red balloon on James' flatbed may be a reference to the fifteenth season episode, Up, Up and Away!.
- The globe from the eighteenth season episode, Emily Saves the World, is seen being pulled by Salty through Knapford.
- Toby was seen pulling two trucks, each carrying a giraffe, which may be a reference to the fourteenth season episode, Thomas' Tall Friend.
- When Dowager Hatt first speaks to Gordon, she calls him "Geoffrey," to which Gordon responds with "Who's Geoffrey?" This is a reference to the nineteenth season episode of the same name, which Lee Pressman also wrote. She also calls Gordon "Gerald," which is Gator's real name.
- Dowager Hatt calls Emily "Ermintrude", which is a reference to the television series and animated film The Magic Roundabout.
- This is the second time that "Geoffrey" is mentioned the first time was Who's Geoffrey?.
- The episode's plot is similar to the tenth season episode, The Green Controller.
- This episode marks the first of several things:
- The first episode where Rob Rackstraw gives James a British accent in the UK dub.
- Sukhmani Kaur's first episode as assistant production manager.
- Gavin Ebedes' first episode as supervising editor.
- Eddie Chandler's first episode as associate editor.
- Alan Kennedy's first episode as director of post-production.
- The first episode to have the writer's name in all uppercase letters.
- Going by production order, this is the fourth episode of the twenty-first season.
- In the Nick Jr USA broadcast of the episode, it is paired with Stuck in Gear.
- A shortened version of the episode, narrated by Joseph May as Thomas, can be found on the official YouTube channel and the Nick Jr website.
- Both Donald and Douglas do not have footplate crews.
- Emily’s brake pipe changes positions in between shots of her talking to Dowager Hatt and the scene where Percy is pulling the express up Gordon’s Hill.
- When the engines are stuck at the junction, Donald has Duck's whistle sound at one point and Henry is missing his leading wheels.
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