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No Joke for James

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the Buzz Book.
"Some jokes are funny but not this one, James!"
— The Fat Controller
No Joke for James

David Mitton


Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Andrew Brenner
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Michael Angelis (UK)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

November 19th,
1991 (US)
April 21st,
1992 (UK)
June 23rd,
1992 (JAP)
March 1st,
1993 (AUS)

Previous episode

The Trouble with

Next episode

Thomas, Percy and
the Post Train
Thomas, Percy and
the Mail Train

No Joke for James is the eleventh episode of the third season. It first aired on Shining Time Station in the episode, Oh, What a Tangled Web in 1991.


One morning, James is boasting to Thomas and Percy that he is the smartest and most useful engine on the line. Thomas disagrees and thinks that all of the Fat Controller's engines are useful, and Percy tells James that he is getting all puffed up. Later, James boasts to Gordon that he is the pride of the line, but Gordon tells him that he saw him pulling trucks this morning, and that he is only a goods engine. James then tells Gordon that the Fat Controller has plans for him, and Gordon believes him. James then becomes worried, as he was lying and now needs to impress Gordon

Later, Thomas is shunting coaches in the yard. James asks if the coaches are for him, but Thomas tells him that they are for Gordon's express, and that he will fetch James' trucks next. James decides to play a prank and tells Thomas that the Fat Controller told him that he is to take the coaches, and that Gordon is to pull the trucks. James is then coupled to the coaches, and he steams out of the yard, just as Thomas arrives with Gordon's trucks, leaving Gordon and his driver cross when Thomas tells them what James had said.

James is enjoying himself enormously, but when James sees the Fat Controller at Elsbridge, he scolds James for his trick and sends him to his shed until he is wanted. Gordon and Henry tease James by asking each other who will pull the express. A few days later, James is let out of the shed. He apologizes to Thomas, and Thomas tells him that the trucks are pleased to have him back. James then shunts trucks in the harbour for the rest of the day.

As James and his crew prepare to head home, a man arrives and tells James' driver that he is to attend an important meeting with the Fat Controller which he must not be late for, and he asks for a ride in James' cab. James' driver recognises the man as a railway inspector and agrees. When James arrives at Knapford, the inspector tells the Fat Controller that James gave him a splendid ride, and that he must be proud of him. The Fat Controller agrees and calls James a Really Useful Engine.




  • In the first shot of James shunting at the harbour, he is pushing a truck that has N. E. written on it.
  • The man who was late for a meeting with Sir Topham Hatt is Jeremiah Jobling.
  • In a few rare photos, Gordon arrives next to Thomas on his left rather than on his right. Also, in one of them, he is smiling rather than frowning.
  • The models of Izzy Gomez and Big Mickey from TUGS can be seen.
  • This episode was adapted from the magazine stories The Express and A Passenger for James.


  • In the first scene and the scene where James pulls up beside Gordon, studio equipment is slightly visible in the top centre.
  • When James talks to Gordon, James' eyes are wonky.
  • When James first arrives at the Sodor Shipping Company building, Thomas is seen shunting two salt wagons and a tanker. Next, red express coaches can be seen coming down the line two shots later. Then, the salt wagons Thomas was shunting are coming backwards, and Thomas is gone.
  • When James wheeshes steam at the Fat Controller, the latter shakes a bit.
  • In the shot of Henry teasing James, both of his brake pipes are facing upwards. One should be facing downwards.
  • Studio equipment can be seen when James arrives at the Sodor Shipping Co.
  • When James says "Actually Thomas", the smoke coming from the chimney in the background disappears and reappears.
  • In the restored version, the first shot at the harbour shows James pushing three trucks. Two of them are derailed as they are seen bumping across the sleepers.
  • When Thomas and James are talking, Edward is seen pulling a goods train on another line, then in the next shot, he is nowhere to be seen.
  • In a deleted scene, James is seen pulling the express past the watermill, but that is on Thomas' Branch Line.
  • When Thomas is shunting Gordon's trucks into place, the line next to him is clear. Then, in the next shot, express coaches appear. Then, when Thomas says "And so here are your cars!", Percy can be seen shunting some trucks on the same line. Then, in the next shot, Percy and his trucks disappear.


  • James: "Look at me! I am the smartest, most useful engine on the line."
  • Thomas: "Rubbish! We're all useful. The Fat Controller says so and he's Sir Topham Hatt, head of the whole railway!
  • Percy: "You know what, James?"
  • James: "What?"
  • Percy: "You're getting all puffed up!"

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Finnish James 'temppu James' Trick
German Mit James scherzt man nicht You Don't Joke with James
Norwegian Ingen spøk for James No Joke for James
Dutch James is niet grappig James is Not Funny
Italian Gli Scherzi di James Jokes by James
Japanese いたずらはだめだよジェームス That's Not Funny, James
Welsh Pryfocio James James Teasing
Czech Jamesův špatný vtip James' bad joke
Slovenian Jakobu ni do šale James is Not Up to Jokes
Polish Niegrzeczny Kuba Naughty James
Brazilian Chega de piadas para James Stop joking James



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