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“Some jokes are funny, but not this one, James! You have caused confusion!”
―The Fat Controller

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.


James is a mixed traffic engine, who can pull both trucks and coaches, but is proud of his smart red paint, and is told by his driver that he brights open their day because James's driver is his engine and his smart red paint. 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, as James boasts to Gordon that he is the pride of the line, 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 is lying and must now 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 trick 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 James' tanker wagons for Gordon, leaving Gordon and his driver furious when Thomas tells them what James had said.

James is enjoying himself enormously, but when James sees the Fat Controller at Elsbridge, he tells James off for his trick and causing confusion, and sends him to the shed until he is wanted. Gordon and Henry tease James by asking each other who will pull the express. The next day James is let out of the shed. He apologises 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 tells James that once again he is a really useful engine.




  • This episode was adapted from the magazine stories, The Express and A Passenger for James.
  • 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.
  • In the early UK narration, the line of James saying, "Look at me! I'm the smartest most useful engine on the line," is taken from the early UK narration of Time for Trouble.
  • In the UK version of the episode, the music at the end is omitted.
  • The models of Big MickeyIzzy Gomez and a scrap tractor model from TUGS can be seen at the harbour.


  • In the first scene and the scene where James pulls up beside Gordon, a studio equipment is slightly visible in the top centre.
  • When James talks to Gordon, James' eyes are wonky and in the first close of James his face is loose.
  • When James first arrives at the Sodor Shipping Company building, Thomas is seen shunting two salt vans and a tanker. Next, red express coaches can be seen coming down the line two shots later. Then, the salt vans 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.
  • 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 trucks!" 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. UK: The Fat Controller says so and he's Sir Topham Hatt, head of the whole railway!"/US: Sir Topham Hatt says so and he's head of the whole railway!"
  • Percy: "You know what, James?"
  • James: "What?"
  • Percy: "You're getting all puffed up!"


  • Narrator: Thomas was shunting shining new coaches.
  • Thomas: Good morning, James!
  • James: Are those coaches for me?
  • Thomas: No. These are for Gordon's Express. I'll fetch your trucks next/freight cars next.
  • Narrator: But James was going to play a trick on the other engines.
  • James: Actually, Thomas, I'm taking the coaches. The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt asked me to tell you.
  • Thomas: What about the trucks/cars?
  • James: Uh, give them to Gordon.
  • Thomas' Driver: Come on, Thomas. Orders are orders.


  • The Fat Controller: [having heard of James' recent antics] Some jokes are funny, but not this one, James. You have caused confusion!
  • James: [disappointedly] Yes, Sir.
  • The Fat Controller: You will now stay in your shed until you are wanted.


In Other Languages

Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Chega de Piadas para James
Chinese 别和詹姆士开玩笑
Czech Jamesův Špatný Vtip
Danish James Laver Numre
Dutch James is Niet Grappig
Finnish Jaskan Jekku
German Mit James Scherzt man Nicht
Greek Το αστείο του Τζίμι
Hungarian James Rossz Vicce
Italian Gli Scherzi di James
Japanese いたずらはだめだよジェームス
Korean 제임스의 거짓말
Norwegian Ingen Spøk for James
Polish Niegrzeczny Kuba
Romanian Fără Glume cu James
Russian Для Джеймса это не шутка
Serbian Džejmsova Pošalica
Slovak Jakubov Zlý Vtip
Slovenian Jakobu Ni do Šale
Swedish Ingen Spøk for James
Thai เจมส์ขำไม่ออก
Ukrainian Не жарт для Джеймса
Welsh Pryfocio James

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  • Thomas, Percy and the Post Train