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The fifth season of the television series aired in 1998 in the UK and had twenty-six episodes narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Alec Baldwin in the US.
With Season 5, the decision was made to write a full series of original, staff-written stories, without using the Railway Series' books as a source. One reason for this was producer Britt Allcroft's desire to create a theatrical Thomas the Tank Engine movie, and requested that director David Mitton show off his modelling skills. Season 5 also took on edgier plot lines and included much more action.
Some inspiration for the episodes came from a former LMR manager named David Maidment. In 1997, Maidment met with Steven Wright about the possibility of supporting the Railway Children charity, and while Wright told him the series' staff commonly received such requests, they would consider. During their meeting, Maidment relayed stories about his railway experiences working in South Wales and as the manager at Crewe station. Maidment received a call asking if he would allow some of his stories to be used as material – the stories from The Railway Series were frequently based on true events, and Allcroft and Mitton preferred this. Maidment agreed, and was also asked to review each story to make sure that the railway in the show operated realistically. As a result, Maidment received writing credit alongside Allcroft and Mitton. 10,000 pounds was later donated to the Railway Children for his work.
The design for each new character would be chosen by David Eves, and given to David Mitton for approval. For ease of filming, Season 5 would introduce larger-scale versions of the narrow gauge engines, and from Season 6-12, these larger models were used almost exclusively. Originally, the character Bertram was supposed to be a tank engine, but financial difficulty in building a new model made them repaint Duke's model with Smudger's face.
|Screenshot|| UK title (top)|
US title (bottom)
|Episode number #|
|Cranky Bugs||14th September 1998||#01|
|A new crane called Cranky arrives at the docks and causes trouble for Thomas and Percy but eventually needs their help after a storm.|
|Horrid Lorry||15th September 1998||#02|
|Three very Horrid Lorries arrive on Sodor and start taking over the engines' jobs. Eventually, the tables are turned and the lorries get their comeuppance.|
|A Better View for Gordon||16th September 1998||#03|
|Gordon complains about the plainness of a new station and longs for a panoramic view, which he gets unexpectedly.|
|Lady Hatt's Birthday Party||17th September 1998||#04|
|On his way to his wife's birthday, the Fat Controller runs into a series of problems.|
|James and the Trouble with Trees||18th September 1998||#05|
|James' bragging prevents him from listening to Henry, Percy and Terence's warnings about trees that are too close to the line.|
|Gordon and the Gremlin||21st September 1998||#06|
|Gordon has problems with his fire and the others joke of gremlins. Later, a special visitor arrives and her dog runs away into Thomas' cab.|
|Bye George!||22nd September 1998||#07|
|George the Steamroller causes a great deal of trouble for the engines.|
|Baa!||23rd September 1998||#08|
|A "Best Dressed Station" that is being held across Sodor. But as Percy is helping decorate Maithwaite station, a hungry ram is found in the station as decorations are ruined.|
|Put Upon Percy||24th September 1998||#09|
|Percy complains that he is overworked. While working at the Coal Mine, some trucks escape and they crash inside the mine-shaft, which causes the mine to collapse.|
|Toby and the Flood||25th September 1998||#10|
|Toby is sent to inspect a dam, and discovers a few leaks in it. It eventually collapses and causes an unsafe bridge to break, causing him to drift towards a waterfall.|
|Haunted Henry||28th September 1998||#11|
|Henry refuses to believe in ghosts, until he and his crew encounter a series of spooky events during the night.|
|Double Teething Troubles||29th September 1998||#12|
|Bill and Ben are worried when they hear that Derek, a malfunctioning diesel, is going to help them work in the clay pits.|
|Stepney Gets Lost||30th September 1998||#13|
|The Fat Controller invites Stepney to work with Toby and Mavis at the quarry. Stepney gets lost on the way home, eventually arriving at the Smelter's Yard.|
|Toby's Discovery||1st October 1998||#14|
|Toby takes the Hatts on an expedition, finding a castle and an old mine. The destinations are reopened, but Toby is spooked by Thomas' story about "The Old Warrior".|
|Something in the Air||2nd October 1998||#15|
|Henry is cross when Thomas delays him, and refuses to listen to his warning about a line eroded by high tides.|
|Thomas, Percy and Old Slow Coach||5th October 1998||#16|
|Thomas and Percy discover an old coach named Old Slow Coach in the scrapyard and want to save her.|
| Thomas and the Rumours|
Thomas and the Rumors
|5th October 1998 (VHS)|
6th October 1998 (TV)
|The engines discover that Harold has been hired to show a special visitor around the island and fear being replaced.|
|Oliver's Find||7th October 1998||#18|
|Oliver is put on mail duty and ends up going down an old branch line due to a dozing signalman.|
|Happy Ever After||8th October 1998||#19|
|Mrs. Kyndley asks Percy and his driver to make a "good luck package" for her daughter's wedding.|
|Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday||9th October 1998||#20|
|The Fat Controller and his family go on holiday, though things start to go wrong.|
| A Surprise for Percy|
A Big Surprise for Percy
|5th October 1998 (VHS)|
12th October 1998 (TV)
|Percy moans about his work in the mines and wants something exciting to happen. His wish comes true when a line of trucks breaks away from him on the hill.|
|Make Someone Happy||13th October 1998||#22|
|James sees Mrs. Kyndley, who is upset her sister can't come and visit. A "mystery tour" is arranged for her and James is chosen for it.|
|Busy Going Backwards||14th October 1998||#23|
|Toad confesses to Oliver that he wishes to go forwards for a change. On Gordon's Hill, the coupling snaps and Toad goes on a wild ride.|
|Duncan Gets Spooked||5th October 1998 (VHS)|
15th October 1998 (TV)
|Duncan teases Peter Sam after some trucks fall into a ravine, so Rusty tells Duncan a ghost story to make him eat his own words.|
|Rusty and the Boulder||5th October 1998 (VHS)|
16th October 1998 (TV)
|Rusty is suspicious of a strange boulder lodged in the mountains.|
|Snow||5th October 1998 (VHS)|
19th October 1998 (TV)
|Thomas is cross with the snow, so Rusty tells him about Skarloey's own experience in an avalanche.|
- It's Great to be an Engine
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Accidents Will Happen
- Night Train
- The Snow Song
- Harold the Helicopter
- Donald's Duck
- Percy's Seaside Trip
- Every Cloud has a Silver Lining
- Come for the Ride
- Bill and Ben
- Annie and Clarabel
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Lady Hatt
- Stephen Hatt
- Bridget Hatt
- Mrs. Kyndley
- The Firelighter
- The Little Boys
- Jem Cole (not named)
- Farmer Trotter (not named)
- Peter Sam (does not speak)
- Henrietta (does not speak)
- Donald (cameo)
- Trevor (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- Jeremiah Jobling (cameo)
- The Vicar of Wellsworth (cameo)
- Refreshment Lady (cameo)
- Nancy (cameo)
- Farmer Finney (cameo)
- The Storyteller (cameo)
- The Butler (cameo)
- The Crovan's Gate Policeman (cameo)
- The Tailor (cameo)
- Duke (portrait cameo)
- Bulstrode (faceless; cameo)
- Douglas (music video cameo)
- Diesel (music video cameo)
- Class 40 (music video cameo)
- Sir Handel (music video cameo)
- Tom Tipper (music video cameo)
- Queen Elizabeth II (music video cameo)
- The Policeman (music video cameo)
- The Stone-dropping Boys (music video cameo)
- The Barber (music video cameo)
- The Careless Cleaner (music video cameo)
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster and his Family (music video cameo)
- The Quarry-master (music video cameo)
- The Injured Sailor (music video cameo)
- S.C. Ruffey (deleted scene cameo)
- Old Slow Coach
- The Horrid Lorries
- Old Bailey
- The Special Visitor
- Mrs. Kyndley's Daughter
- Tiger Moth's Pilot
- Derek (not named)
- 'Arry (not named)
- Dowager Hatt (not named)
- The Lighthouse Keeper (not named)
- Bert (does not speak)
- Bertram (does not speak)
- Rusty's Ghost Engine (does not speak)
- Thumper (does not speak)
- Butch (does not speak)
- Tiger Moth (does not speak)
- Harry Topper (mentioned)
- This was the first season of several things:
- The first season not to have any episodes based on The Railway Series stories by Wilbert and Christopher Awdry.
- The first season to introduce original characters not created by Wilbert or Christopher Awdry.
- Alec Baldwin's first season as narrator.
- The first season not to air on Shining Time Station due to the show ending. Episodes from Season 5 were instead aired on FOX Family's Storytime with Thomas and PBS Kids Sprout
- The first season to use a Proteus 2000 to compose the music.
- The first season not dubbed in Finnish or Ukrainian.
- The first season to air in Canada.
- The first season in which Douglas does not appear since his debut in the second season. Although, he does appear in two music videos from this season.
- The first season in which the phrase, "confusion and delay" is said.
- According to an interview with David Mitton before his death in 2008, this season was supposed to be a showcase of Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
- Production of this season began after Wilbert Awdry died in March 21st, 1997, but ended sometime in the later half of either 1997 or 1998.
- This season features the most songs, at a total of ten.
- This was also the final season of several things:
- Britt Allcroft's final season as writer and producer.
- David Mitton's final season as producer.
- Angus Wright's last season as executive producer.
- The last season to premiere in the UK on Cartoon Network.
- The last season filmed completely in 4:3 full screen.
- The last season shown in Germany and Spain until the eighth season.
- The last season to have a railway consultant until the seventeenth season.
- The last season where characters said the word "stupid", possibly due to political correctness.
- This was also the only season of several things:
- The only season not to feature Knapford Station.
- The only season to feature Kirk Ronan.
- The only season that Diesel does not appear in since his debut in the second season, though he does appear in a music video from this season.
- David Maidment's only season as railway consultant and writer.
- The only season where Donald appears, without Douglas.
- The only season where Donald appears, but doesn't speak.
- The only season to feature appearances of Old Slow Coach, the Horrid Lorries, Old Bailey, Mrs. Kindley's daughter, Bertram, Rusty's Ghost Engine, Thumper and Harry Topper.
- The only season recorded in Dolby Surround Sound, hence the absence of certain sound effects and music in either the UK or US version of several episodes.
- Michael Angelis was not credited in the opening titles for the UK narration. However, he is credited as narrator in the Hindi narration, even though it was redubbed.
- Starting with this season up to Season 12, the brake sound effect from the 1964 film, The Train would be used when an engine puts on the brakes.
- This season's official episode order differs from the aired order.
- This season was never shown in Finland or Ukraine.