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James and the Trouble with Trees

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"If you can't push trucks properly, Henry, why not talk to a tree instead? You know how much you like the forest!"
— James taunting Henry
James and the Trouble with Trees

David Mitton


Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Britt Allcroft
David Mitton
David Maidment


Michael Angelis (UK)
Alec Baldwin (US)

Air date

September 13th, 1998

Previous episode

Lady Hatt's
Birthday Party

Next episode

Gordon and
the Gremlin

James and the Trouble with Trees is the fifth episode of the fifth season.


Thomas had been working at the coaling plant all day. He is disappointed when he cannot receive a wash-down due to a broken hosepipe and is afraid that the other engines will make fun of him. However, when Thomas returns to the shed, he finds James boasting. James believes he deserves a new coat of paint, as Sir Topham Hatt has told him that he is the pride of the line. Henry contradicts James by saying they are all pride of the line, but James does not listen.

The next morning, Henry has an accident while shunting and James insults him, saying he should go talk to trees instead. Henry tells James that Sir Topham Hatt is working on removing trees that are too close to the line. Later, James meets Thomas, Percy, and Terence while in the forest removing the trees. James thinks that trees are silly, so the others try to warn him, but the red engine just ignores them.

James then arrives at the station to collect the express, but Sir Topham Hatt re-assigns him to an important goods train. This puts James in a very bad mood. The trucks tease James about shunting and he sets off with the train. They soon reach a hill and begin to climb. An old tree by the side of the line was being blown by the wind. Rain had softened the soil and the tree slowly slid onto the tracks in front of James. He tries to reverse, but the train is too heavy. Luckily, Thomas came to James' aid. At first, James was afraid Thomas would tease him, but he did not. Thomas helped James move out of the way before the tree fell over.

Back at the yard, James thanked Thomas. Edward came in to tell them that Thomas will get a re-paint, while James will pull the express.




  • This episode was likely written to amend the third season episode Henry's Forest, which caused great anger on the Reverend W. Awdry's part.
  • There are some differences in the US and UK narrations. Some differences are:
    • In the UK narration, the line "Your colour is nice, James, pity about your face though!" is said long before it is in US narration.
    • In the UK narration, when Terence warns James about how trees are just as powerful as engines, James shouts "Pah!" whilst in the US narration he just says "Oh, please!"
  • The scene of the tree sliding down the embankment is similar to the scene in the film version of "The Railway Children", when the three children see trees sliding down a cutting, causing rocks to fall onto the rails.
  • When James puffs away with the trucks, a truck beside him has "N. E." written on it.
  • In Denmark, this episode is named "James and His Meeting with a Tree". In Germany, it is called "James and the Story of the Tree". The Italian title is "Time for James". In Japan, this episode is called "James is Dangerous". The Swedish title is "Tree Trouble for James".


  • After James leaves Brendam, his trucks lose their faces.
  • When James brakes to prevent hitting the tree, his front bogie is derailed.
  • James says he is to pull the express, but he couples up to red branch line coaches.
  • At the shunting yard, the two trucks to James' right move positions between the wide and close-up shots.
  • When Thomas and James start to back away from the tree, Thomas' driver's head looks up, possibly coming off its joints.
  • When James and Thomas back away from the tree, the tree is standing up again.
  • In the final shot of James, his face is not fitted properly as the gap between his face and eyes is exposed.
  • James has a different whistle sound when he leaves the forest, Kirk Ronan, and Brendam Docks.
  • James has pulled more than six trucks before, so he should have backed up without much trouble.
  • Thomas is covered in coal dust at the beginning of the episode, but when James is warned about the trees and when Thomas rescues James, Thomas is clean. Then, when James apologises to Thomas, he is covered in coal dust again.


  • Thomas: Why, James? I'm the one who needs a new coat, look at me!
  • James: I'd rather not. You're not a pleasant sight.
  • Percy: You wouldn't feel important if one of these trees fell on you. You'd feel hurt.
  • Truck: Your colour's nice, James; pity about your face though.




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