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"Beg pardon, sir. Excuse my intrusion."
"No, I won't! You've frightened my customers. I'll teach you!
— Duck and the barber

A Close Shave, retitled A Close Shave for Duck in American releases, is the fourteenth episode of the second season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episodes, Word's Out and Billy's Runaway Train.


After being framed by Diesel for telling jokes about the engines to the Troublesome Trucks, Duck sadly goes to Wellsworth where he meets Edward and tells him what happened. Edward assures Duck that the Fat Controller will find out what is really going on and asks him to help out with the trucks for the day.

Duck feels better working with Edward; however, the trucks are in a bad mood and make work hard for both of them. When the work is over, Duck bids farewell to Edward and heads back to the shed. As he coasts down Gordon's Hill, enjoying the breeze, he suddenly hears a guard's whistle, as the trucks have broken away and are intent on chasing Duck down and throwing him off the rails.


We've Broken Away! We've Broken Away!

Duck makes a run for it, but the trucks quickly start to catch up. Luckily, the trucks only catch Duck gradually and do not throw him off the rails, but nevertheless Duck is forced to keep going at top speed as the trucks push him. Suddenly, Duck and his driver spot James pulling out of a station on their line with a train full of passengers. Duck tries his hardest to stop the trucks, knowing that a terrible accident could result otherwise. Duck is unable to slow down and is about to crash into the coaches when he is diverted into a siding at the last second.

At the end of the siding is a small shop where a barber has set up his business. Duck barrels down the line and smashes right into the front of the shop, completely destroying the wall. As Duck peeks in through the debris, he apologises to the barber, but the barber is furious and coats Duck's face with shaving foam as revenge for frightening his customers.

Thomas arrives to help clear the mess, while the Fat Controller speaks with the barber and explains that while he understands how upset the barber is, Duck and his crew helped to prevent a serious accident. The barber apologises for his mistake, rinses the shaving foam off, and compliments Duck for his bravery, as does the Fat Controller who tells him how proud he is of Duck.

Soon Duck is pulled clear from the barber shop and the Fat Controller tells him he will be returning home once he is properly washed and repaired. Duck becomes worried, believing that the engines still hate him and prefer Diesel. The Fat Controller tells Duck that is no longer the case, as he never believed Diesel and had sent him away. The other engines are now all very sorry and want Duck to come back.

A few days later, Duck returns to the shed fully mended where the other engines welcome him back with happy whistles. The Great Western engine proudly takes his place alongside them, feeling happier than ever to be home with his friends.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Duck and the Diesel Engine.
  • A larger model of Duck is used for the scenes inside the barber shop.
  • In the close-ups of Duck after the crash, there is a soup can in front of him.
  • In the restored version, the scene of the trucks passing Wellsworth is sped up.
  • As Duck groans "It's too late", the line "...and shut his eyes" is omitted in the George Carlin narration.
  • In the George Carlin version, the trucks laugh throughout the whole chase and the runaway theme is different as Duck approaches Crosby.
  • A deleted scene shows the barber and his customers looking at Duck before he crashes.
  • In Germany, this episode is called "A Narrow Margin". In Norway it is named "That Was Close". The Italian title is "Narrow Escape". The Danish title is "Duck in the Barbershop". In Japan this episode is called "Duck Went to Barbershop". It is called "Talk of Predicaments" in Welsh. It is called "Concise Definition Of" in Finland.
  • In the original version, there are five shots of the barber lathering Duck's face. In the restored version, there are four.
  • Duck's accident is based on a true event which took place at a railway station in Hull, Yorkshire, England.
  • In the George Carlin narration, the sound of Duck's steam after he crashes is louder than in both Ringo Starr narrations.


  • Thomas' eyebrows are missing in one scene.
  • The brakevan gains a face then loses it once the trucks catch up with Duck.
  • When Duck speeds through Wellsworth the middle track has a bump in the middle of it.
  • James inexplicably stops as soon as he starts to leave the station.
  • In both Ringo Starr narrations, he says that Duck shut his eyes, but his eyes are still open.
  • The narrator says that the barber lathers Duck's face all over, but he actually only lathers half of his face from his chin up to his nose.
  • Even though the barber is furious at Duck, he does not show it until the Fat Controller arrives. Even then, the only shot where he is visibly angry is when he says "I do not like engines popping through my walls". And, none of the customers seem cross at Duck's unorthodox entry.
  • Duck was meant to be upset whilst being caked in shaving foam, but he has a broad grin on his face.
  • When the derailed trucks are shown, you can see that the slate slabs have been deliberately placed.
  • In the close-up of Thomas' wheels when he pulls Duck from the barbershop, a wire can be seen sticking out near his wheels.
  • The barber washes half of the shaving cream off Duck's face, but when Duck is pulled back onto the rails the shaving cream is back all over his face again.
  • Why would a barber shop be placed right in front of the track?
  • When Duck crashes into the barbershop the trucks are not derailed but in the next scene they are.
  • The large truck's buffers are placed higher when it is first seen breaking away from Edward. But in the shot of the same truck after Duck's crash, its buffers have been lowered. This is because it is a G scale model of a narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple van that had been modified while the rest of the models used are Gauge 1.
  • In the close up shots of Duck inside the barber shop, when he is being pulled out, studio equipment can be seen in the upper left corner behind the remains of the barber shop's roof.
  • The truck behind Edward does not have a face at first, but gains one when they reach Gordon's Hill.
  • In Ringo Starr's US narration, after Duck complains to Edward that Diesel has made the other engines think that he is horrid, there is an echo in the background. This is audio from the UK version.
  • Nothing is said about a signalman switching Duck to the track with the barber shop.
  • When Duck speeds down the siding leading toward the barber shop, there is one track leading towards the building, but when the mess is cleared up, there are two lines.
  • As the trucks race past the level crossing, a string is seen pulling them.
  • When Duck speeds past the camera moments before hitting the barber shop, the large van changes the direction it's facing.