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“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 were 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 him.

After Dowager Hatt sent her son’s assistances 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, and Percy to pull Gordon's express. This creates a lot of confusion and delay.

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 could see that his mother have runned 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.



Voice Cast




  • Several references to past episodes are made:
  • 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.
  • At Brendam Docks, Edward says he has to deliver a cake to Vicarstown to one of Dowager Hatt's friend named "Lady Toffington," this may be a reference to "Lady Tottington" from the movie, "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit."
  • There's a running gag of Dowager Hatt calling Gordon and Emily different names beginning with G and E, respectively.


  • 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.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Japanese トップハム・ハットきょうのおかあさん
Polish Ciężki Dzień Mamy Zawiadowcy

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