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Paint Pots and Queens, retitled Thomas Meets the Queen in most American releases, is the twenty-third episode of the fourth series. It is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Gordon the Big Engine.


Thomas and Gordon are puffing home together after having reconciled and formed an alliance. They arrive back at the sheds to discover decorations are being put up. Thomas wonders what is happening and Percy tells him to remain silent, saying that they are about to find out. Right on cue, the Fat Controller tells the engines that the Queen is coming to visit Sodor. The engines then wonder who will pull the Royal Train. Edward says he is too old and Gordon says he is still in disgrace. James thinks he will be chosen, but Henry disagrees, claiming James cannot climb hills and then brags that he will pull the Royal Train and have a new coat of paint too.

The next day, rain is pouring and Henry's driver and fireman cover the cab to keep dry from the rain at Knapford. A painter is on a ladder above the line, but Henry's steam blows high into the air, making the painter lose sight and cause him and his paint pot to fall onto Henry, much to both Henry's shock and the painter's fury. The Fat Controller then decides that Henry's appearance will not do for the Royal Train and that he must make other arrangements.

Thomas and Gordon are waiting for the Fat Controller, who can see that both engines are sorry and deserve a treat. He tells the two blue engines that Thomas will look after the coaches, Edward will go in front to clear the line and Gordon will pull the Royal Train.

The great day comes and the engines are busy bringing in people from all over the island for the special occasion. Edward soon steams in and announces that the Queen has arrived. Gordon then pulls into the station with the Queen and her train. The Fat Controller stands to attention and welcomes the Queen. She thanks him for a splendid ride and asks to see the engines. When Percy whistles and Toby rings and cheer for the Queen, Henry and James initially shush them angrily, trying to enjoy the event in peace, but Percy and Toby ignore them by carrying the noise on, ending up prompting the other engines to join in. When it is time for the Queen to leave, she speaks especially to Thomas (courtesy of providing her coaches), Edward and finally Gordon, who takes her home and all the engines whistle proudly. No one has ever felt prouder than those on the Fat Controller's railway.




  • Going by production order, this is the twentieth episode of the fourth series.
  • Despite its placement in the fourth series, this episode is a direct continuation of the first series episode, "Down the Mine". It also takes place before the second series episode, "Percy Takes the Plunge", which references "Down the Mine".
  • For references to the first series episodes, "Off the Rails" and "Down the Mine", stock footage from both episodes are used, as well as an extended scene from the latter. A reference is also made to the third series episode, "The Trouble with Mud" and stock footage from the fourth series episode, "Thomas and Stepney" is also used.
  • The flag of Saint George's Cross is visible in one scene. In real life, the same flag is used to represent England.
  • From the scenes with Gordon pulling into the station with the royal train to the engines cheering for the Queen with a shush uttered by Henry and James in between, Zadok the Priest, a British anthem, as well as the music that played during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, plays in the background.
  • As the narrator says, "When it was time to leave..." God Save the Queen, the British national anthem, begins playing. Another instrumental version of the same anthem also plays at the end of the Shining Time Station episode, "Mr. Conductor's Fourth of July" under "My Country 'Tis of Thee" instead due to international differences.
  • On the end credits of the Shining Time Station family special, Queen for a Day, PBS Kids Sprout airings and Thomas & Friends Classic Volume 4 digital download, this episode was given its UK title.
  • This episode, along with the fourth series episode, "Special Attraction", were the last episodes featured on "Shining Time Station".
  • The events of this episode were later mentioned by Gordon in the eighteenth series episode, "Emily Saves the World", as well as by Sir Topham Hatt in the twenty-fourth series double-length episode, "Thomas and the Royal Engine".
  • Behind the scenes footage for this episode was filmed for the 1995 documentary, The Thomas the Tank Engine Man. A television screen also shows a deleted scene of Edward passing Wellsworth at dawn.
  • On 12th May 2015, which was the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, behind the scenes footage of this episode was revealed in a report on BBC South Today.
  • This was the 100th episode to air in Norway.
  • Footage from this episode can be seen in the Japanese game, "Magical Adventure".
  • In the UK and Ukrainian versions, when the rain comes, a thunderclap sound effect is heard. However, in the US and other international versions, the thunderclap sound effect is omitted for unknown reasons.
  • When both Thomas and Gordon ask "Please, Sir?" in the US narration, the voice clip for this line is double-tracked to make it sound like there are two characters talking simultaneously. The UK version does not do this.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Knapford Station until the sixth series episode, "It's Only Snow".
  • This episode marks the only appearance of Queen Elizabeth II until the twenty-fourth series double-length episode, "Thomas and the Royal Engine".
  • The three berth garage from TUGS appears at Knapford.
  • This marks the only episode in the Classic Series in which Thomas' upset face is used until the eighth series premiere.


  • Gordon's brake pipe is facing downwards, while it was facing upwards in Down the Mine.
  • The narrator said that Thomas and Gordon whistled into the shed, but only Thomas' whistle was heard.
  • When Thomas rolls his eyes, his face moves a little.
  • Henry's smoke is coming from his cab and not his funnel.
  • In a rare picture, Gordon's buffer is crooked when he speaks to the Fat Controller.
  • At the end of the episode, a crowd of people can be seen at Knapford, but in the close-ups of James and Henry, the people disappear and then reappear.
  • When the engines whistle, Donald and Douglas' whistles can be heard, but they are nowhere to be seen. This is because the audio of the engines whistling is reused from the second series episode, The Deputation.
  • When Gordon comes to a halt in Knapford, Edward's eyes are wonky.
  • In the close-up shots of Toby and Percy at Knapford, the buffers on Toby's line are wonky.
  • In a rare picture, Thomas' driver has only his head and arms, as his body is replaced by a metal plate.
  • In the shot of the engines whistling, Edward can be seen with his tender facing the camera, but when he talks to the Queen and whistles to the other engines, he is facing the other direction.
  • In a close-up shot of Toby and Percy at Knapford, a woman sitting on a bench does not have feet.
  • When Toby brings the passengers to Knapford, his bell sounds completely different.
  • When Thomas and Gordon are puffing to the sheds at the beginning, neither of them are puffing steam in any of the shots except for Gordon's close-up.
  • In the close-up shot of Knapford station decorated in flags, one of the glass canopies is removed and seen in the corner.
  • Despite their appearances in this episode, Edward and Toby do not appear in the nameboard sequence at the end of the episode in the Japanese dub.
  • One of the passengers at Knapford is missing his arm.
  • In a rare picture, James' face is loose.
  • Duck and Donald appear despite this episode taking place before they arrived


Percy: Shh! Sir Topham Hatt is going to tell us now.

Gordon: Remember, Thomas. United we stand, together we fall. You help me, and I'll help you.

Narrator: The engines wondered who would pull the Royal Train.

Edward: I'm too old to pull important trains.

Gordon: I'm in disgrace!

James: He'll choose me, of course.

Henry: You?! You can't climb hills! He'll ask me to pull the train, and I'll have a new coat of paint!

Henry & James: Shh!