- “This'll be the best Christmas ever!”
Long Lost Friend is the seventeenth episode of the eighteenth season.
It is nearly Christmas on the Island of Sodor and it is a very busy day at Brendam Docks. Cranky is busy unloading cargo when he comes across a very heavy load which turns out to be Gator. Salty is pleased to see Gator, but he knows that Percy will be even more excited to see his old friend. A load of rock salt has also been sent over on Gator's ship, but the delivery note has gotten wet and becomes unreadable during transit. The dock manager thinks the salt is destined for the Blue Mountain Quarry and asks Gator to take it. Before he leaves, Gator asks Salty to let Percy know he is back if he sees him.
Gator meets Thomas at a junction. Thomas cannot believe his eyes; he did not expect to see Gator again. Gator asks Thomas to tell Percy that he is back when he sees him. Thomas promises to do so. He knows that Percy will be very excited to see Gator again.
Thomas rushes into the shunting yard where Percy is busy shunting trucks. Thomas tells Percy that Gator is back. Percy is delighted and thinks it is sure to be the best Christmas ever. Percy asks where Gator is and Thomas says that he is currently making a delivery to the quarry. Percy decides that he will deliver himself the quarry in order to see Gator.
Up at the Blue Mountain Quarry, Gator has made his delivery. Owen is very pleased to see Gator again. Gator asks Owen to let Percy know that he is back on Sodor. Owen promises to do so. Then, Gator's driver explains that there has been a mistake; the rock salt is not meant for the quarry. The driver assumes that the salt must be for the Sodor Steamworks. Gator heads off towards the Steamworks, just as Percy pulls in at the quarry. Owen tells Percy that Gator has been there and he is heading for the Steamworks so Percy sets off after his old friend.
At the Steamworks, Gator's driver is told that the salt is not for them. A workman thinks the salt must be for the platforms at Knapford Station as they have a tendency to get very slippery in the winter. Gator heads off as Percy makes his way to the Steamworks. The two friends even pass by one another and do not even notice. Gator is beginning to think that Percy does not want to see him after all. At the Steamworks, Percy is told by Victor that Gator has been there and gone again. Percy starts to wonder why Gator has been to see everyone else apart from him. Maybe Gator has forgotten all about him.
At Knapford, Gator meets Thomas who tells him that Percy is looking for him. Gator finds this hard to believe; if Percy really wanted to see him, he would have found him by now. Just then, the Fat Controller walks up and demands to know why Gator has brought the rock salt to Knapford. Gator's driver shows the Fat Controller the unreadable delivery note. The Fat Controller checks this with his notes and tells Gator that the rock salt was meant for Brendam Docks all along. He tells Gator to take it back there as quickly as he can. Gator sets off. As Thomas pulls out of the station, he meets Percy who is very upset at the thought of being snubbed by his old friend. Thomas explains that Gator wants to see Percy as much as Percy wants to see him and tells Percy that Gator is heading back to the docks. Percy thinks Gator is leaving again and races off as fast as he can for the docks.
Percy speeds into the docks just in time to see the ship depart. He has missed Gator once again. Percy puffs forwards, shouting at the ship. Due to the fog, Percy cannot see the train of rock salt until it is too late. Percy collides with the train, sending bags of salt flying all over the docks. Then, Percy discovers Gator, covered in bags of rock salt, at the other end of the train. Percy is thrilled. Gator says that this time, he plans to stay on Sodor at least long enough to have the salt cleaned off of him. Salty rolls up and jokes that they cannot have two Saltys on Sodor causing all three engines to laugh. Percy will have a very happy Christmas now that he has been reunited with his old friend.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Dock Manager
- Gator's Driver
- A Steamworks Worker
- Rosie (cameo)
- Porter (cameo)
- Stafford (cameo)
- Skarloey (cameo)
- Rheneas (cameo)
- Sir Handel (cameo)
- Peter Sam (cameo)
- Annie and Clarabel (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- The Bird Watcher (cameo)
- The Blond-haired Boy (cameo)
- One of Dowager Hatt's Friends (cameo)
- Father Christmas (mentioned)
- Ben Small as Thomas and Owen
- Keith Wickham as Percy, Gordon, Salty, Sir Topham Hatt, Gator's Driver and a Steamworks worker
- Clive Mantle as Gator
- David Bedella as Victor
- Matt Wilkinson as Cranky and the Dock Manager
- Martin Sherman as Thomas and Percy
- Kerry Shale as Gordon and Sir Topham Hatt
- Clive Mantle as Gator
- Keith Wickham as Salty and Gator's Driver
- David Bedella as Victor
- Ben Small as Owen
- Glenn Wrage as Cranky, Gator's Driver and a Steamworks worker
- William Hope as the Dock Manager
- Brendam Docks
- Sodor Shipping Company
- Shunting Yards
- Blue Mountain Quarry
- Sodor Steamworks
- M.C. BUNN
- Knapford Iron Bridge
- A reference to Missing Gator is made by Cranky in this episode.
- Going by production order, this is the nineteenth episode of the eighteenth season.
- This is the first episode since the tenth season episode, It's Good to be Gordon that a driver has a full speaking role.
- This episode marks the last of a few things:
- Thomas has a different brake van when he arrives at the Shunting Yards.
- In the first shot of the quarry, one of the buildings is not positioned properly as it is overlapping the track.
- At the Blue Mountain Quarry, the narrow gauge engines are seen pulling standard gauge trucks.
- When the dock manager tells Gator to go to the quarry to deliver the rock salt, he does not give the delivery note to his driver. However, when they are at the quarry, Gator's crew somehow has it.
- In the US dub, Gator's driver's voice changes to his UK voice once when they visit the Steamworks. Because that would avoid confusion from the US audiences that Gator's driver and the Steamworks workmen both have the voice actor, Glenn Wrage voicing them.
- Gator has three trucks of rock salt, but when Porter comes to move the trucks after Percy bumps into them, there are suddenly four trucks.