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No Joke for James is the eleventh episode of the third series. It is based on the magazine stories, "The Express" and "A Passenger for James".


James is proud of his smart red paint, and his driver tells him that he brightens up everyone's day. Shortly afterwards, James boasts to Thomas and Percy that he is the smartest and most useful engine on the line. Thomas and Percy disagree. Later, as James boasts to Gordon that he is the pride of the line, Gordon tells him that he is only a goods engine. James falsely tells Gordon that the Fat Controller has plans for him, and Gordon believes him, much to James' concern.

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 trick Thomas, lying that the Fat Controller told him that he is to take the express, and that Gordon is to pull the trucks. He is then coupled to the coaches and steams out of the yard just as Thomas arrives with James' tanker wagons for Gordon, leaving him and his driver shocked and furious.

Meanwhile James is puffing along and enjoying himself enormously, thinking to himself how clever he is. His fun doesn't last however; he finds the Fat Controller waiting for him at Elsbridge and quickly reprimands him. He sends James to his shed for his naughty actions, and James ends up with Gordon and Henry teasing him by asking each other who will pull the express. The next day, James is let out of the shed and apologises to Thomas, who gives him some trucks. 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 praises James. The Fat Controller agrees and tells James that he has once again proven himself to be 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 railway inspector is Jeremiah Jobling.
  • In a few promotional photos, Gordon arrives next to Thomas on his left rather than on his right. In another photo, Gordon is smiling rather than frowning and a siding is behind him.
  • Dryaw Goods Station appears as a building in Knapford Yards.
  • 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.
  • In the UK version, Thomas says "We're all useful, the Fat Controller says so, and he's Sir Topham Hatt; head of the whole railway". But in the US version, the line was changed to "We're all useful, Sir Topham Hatt says so, and he's head of the whole railway".
  • The models of Big Mickey, Izzy Gomez, a scrap tractor model, the steel company building, and the steel rig from TUGS can be seen at the harbour.


  • In the first scene and the moment James pulls up beside Gordon, studio equipment is visible in the top centre corner of the screen.
  • When James talks to Gordon, his eyes are wonky and 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.
  • 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.
  • When James arrives at Elsbridge, there is a man standing next to Sir Topham Hatt, but in the close up of him, the man disappears.


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