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"A pond's the only place for a toad, I suppose..."
— Oliver

Busy Going Backwards is the twenty-third episode of the fifth season.


One day, Toad feels sad. He could see engines and coaches moving forwards, unlike he who could only see things from behind. He decides to talk to Oliver about his problem. He tells him that he is always going backwards, he has forward thinking views and could be a leader. Gordon tells him that he cannot be a leader if he does not have a train to follow him, which makes Toad even more sad. Oliver tells him he is a really useful brake van, that he helps him brake and keeps trucks in order when he goes down hills. Toad says it would still be nice to go forwards for a change. The trucks overhear everything Toad says and are cross that he does not appreciate looking after them and promise to pay him back for his words.

So when Oliver takes a goods train up Gordon's Hill, the trucks break away the coupling to Oliver and go careering back down the line. The guard jumps off his post and leaves a helpless Toad in a state of shock. At first, Toad enjoys his journey travelling forwards, but his enjoyment soon ends, as he crashes through a crossing that was closed, nearly hitting Bertie who went through just moments earlier. Then, he finds out he is on the wrong track, and narrowly misses Gordon with the help of a nearby signalman. Then, he sees James coming down the line with a slow goods train. A shunter switches Toad off James' line just in time, leaving James shocked at what just happened. The signalman calls ahead to the stationmaster at the next station. The stationmaster tells the signalman he will divert Toad and the trucks into a siding. His plan works, but unfortunately, Toad is diverted back onto the main line after a points failure.

Meanwhile, Oliver is racing to Toad's aid. Toad speeds past Henry, and reaches a bridge under repairs. Luckily, the workmen had been warned about the runaway and divert Toad into a siding leading into a muddy pool. Though Toad is now dirty, he is relieved that he has been stopped. Oliver arrives and joke about Toad being diverted into the pool.

That night, Toad speaks to Oliver, saying he is sorry if he caused him embarrassment. Oliver asks him what he thought of going forwards; Toad tells him it was a fun experience, but he will look forward to remaining backwards from now on. Toad now appreciates seeing everything from behind.




  • A rendition of William Tell Overture is heard throughout the runaway. This is the first episode to ever feature a musical piece.
  • A rare picture shows Oliver passing through Tidmouth Hault.
  • The picture of Duke from Bulldog can be seen in the signal box.
  • The close-up shot of Toad when he says "Oh no, I'm back on the main line!" is mirrored.
  • This episode marks Oliver's last speaking role and Toad's last appearance until the seventh season episode Emily's New Coaches.


  • When Toad rolls to the bottom of Gordon's Hill, from his point of view, the edge of the scenery can be seen.
  • When Toad switches lines to avoid Gordon, the track ends in bushes.
  • In the beginning of the episode, the tracks ends behind Wellsworth.
  • In the distant shot of Toad being switched to the track with the buffers, seconds before the camera cuts, Toad and the front two trucks derail.
  • A string can be seen when Toad goes out of the siding.
  • Before Toad switches to another track to avoid James, he is on the middle track. In the close up of Toad shutting his eyes, you can tell this is repeated as you can see Toad is on the right track, not the middle track.
  • After Toad avoids James, a works coach moves from in front of the points to behind the points.
  • When Toad swerves away from the buffers and back onto the main line, the mechanism pushing him and the trucks is seen. It looks similar to the chassis of an unaltered Märklin model with the red wheels and valve gear. This may have been what happened to The Märklin Engine.
  • When Oliver rushes under the Wellsworth footbridge, part of the fencing is bent.
  • The narrator says "they diverted him onto old sidings," when he should have said "they diverted him onto an old siding."
  • One of Gordon's back buffers is slightly turned after Toad passes him.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, in the shot from his point of view, studio equipment can be seen in the top left corner.
  • Oliver's trucks keep changing throughout the duration of the episode.
  • For most of the chase sequence, Toad only has one tail lamp.
  • When Toad falls into the pond, his roof was spotless while part of his body was mud-covered. But when he was talking with Oliver at the sheds, his roof was mud-covered while part of his body was spotless.
  • The track arrangements at Oliver's shed changes between the day and night sequences.
  • In the German dub, the narrator Manfred Steffen calls the level crossing Kreuzung, which actually means an intersection of two roads. The correct German translation for a level crossing is Bahnübergang.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Spanish En Reversa y no a la Inversa In Reverse and not the Opposite
Portuguese Ocupado Reversão Busy Reversal
French Inversion Occupée / L'inversion Opposée (Québec) Busy Reversal / Reversal Opposite (Canada)
Japanese うしろむきのトード Toad Backwards
Swedish Paddys dröm Toad's Dream
Welsh Yn Ôl ac Ymlaen Back and Forward
Italian Indietro Tutta! Back All!
Polish Cała Wstecz The Entire Back
Danish Fremad og Bagud Forwards and Rarewards
Russian Задом наперед Back to Front
German Toad und das Rückwärtsfahren Toad and the Backward Drive
Slovenian Vožnja vzvratno Driving in Reverse
Romanian Cu Toată Viteza Înapoi Full Speed Back
Slovak Zaneprázdnený cúvaním Busy in Reverse
Hungarian Hátrafelé Robogva Backwards Robotva
Norwegian Bakover Backward
Dutch Blij om achteruit te gaan Happy to Go Back
Chinese 急于后退 Hurry Back
Korean 토드의 바람 Toad's Wind
Thai โท้ดขอวิ่งถอยดีกว่า Toad Running Back Better

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets


DVD Packs

  • Classic Collection
  • Series Five and Series Six Double Pack


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