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“These engines are filthy! I've never seen so much coal dust!”
―The Railway Inspector talking about Emily, Gordon, and James.

Spic and Span is the thirteenth episode of the eighth season.


The railway staff is busy preparing for the arrival of the Railway Inspector and the Fat Controller tells his engines that there is a cleanliness competition for the best looking engine, so all engines must be "spic and span." Gordon, Emily, and James are very confident that they will win first prize, but Thomas tells Percy that a really useful engine can look just as grand as any engine.

Whilst Thomas and Percy are working at the quarry, however, Thomas gets covered in stone dust. Percy is worried that Thomas will not win first prize, but knows he just needs a good washdown. But Emily is at the washdown ahead of Thomas and tells him that there is no need for him to be cleaned; she will be the cleanest at the inspection. Thomas leaves to help Percy with the stone trucks, still confident in winning first prize.

Thomas and Percy deliver the stone trucks to the docks, where Thomas sees the Fat Controller with the Railway Inspector examining the docks. Thomas rushes back to the washdown, only to find James there ahead of him. Like Emily, James tells Thomas that there is no point in him being clean; Thomas begins to lose confidence.

Back at the docks, Thomas helps Percy with shunting the stone trucks into the sidings; by now, Percy is dirty too so they both head for the washdown. This time, Gordon is there as well as James and Emily and all three look splendid and Thomas is sure he will never win now. Percy knows that with a good washdown they still have a chance.

James, Emily, and Gordon arrive at the coaling plant where the Fat Controller and the Railway Inspector will meet them. Trying to find a good place in the sunlight, James reverses, only to bump into a flatbed which accidentally knocks into a lever, releasing the hatch on the coal hopper. Suddenly, coal begins pouring onto the tracks and coal dust spreads all over Gordon, Emily, and James. The Fat Controller and the Railway Inspector are shocked to see the three engines so dirty. Gordon, trying to clean out his funnel, sends coal shooting out into the air, which lands all over the Fat Controller, his bodyguards, and the Railway Inspector; just then, Thomas and Percy arrive, spic and span. The Railway Inspector is so impressed with Thomas and Percy's appearance that they both win first prize and Percy tells Thomas that he was right; a really useful engine can look as grand as any engine.




  • Going by production order, this is the ninth episode of the eighth season.
  • This is the first episode written by Marc Seal.
  • Stock footage from A Bad Day for Harold the Helicopter is used. Also, instead of matted into widescreen, the scenes are stretched into widescreen.
  • A poster at Knapford reads "Allicia Botti Flower Show Grand Opening!" in a close-up of some workmen.


  • After Emily says "My wheels glimmer," her siderods go up.
  • A few of the engines' facemasks move a bit in some shots such as:
    • When Gordon says "The sun right here makes my dome sparkle."
    • Emily's face moves after she and Gordon get covered in coal dust.
  • The Railway Inspector is skinny in some close-up shots, but in a non close-up rare picture, he is chubby.


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