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"If you can't behave, I will take away your red coat and have you painted blue!"
— The Fat Controller
James and the Coaches/
James Learns a Lesson

David Mitton


David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

October 30th,
1984 (UK)
April 15th,
1987 (AUS)
February 19th,
1989 (US)
May 22nd,
1990 (JAP)
September 3rd,
1993 (George
Carlin US
March 2nd,
1998 (GER)
January 4th,
2008 (HUN)

Previous episode

Thomas and the
Breakdown Train
Thomas Saves
the Day

Next episode

Troublesome Trucks/
Foolish Freight Cars

James and the Coaches, retitled James Learns a Lesson in American releases, is the eighth episode of the first season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episodes, "Pitching in and Helping Out" and "The Mayor Runs for Re-Election".


James is settling into his new life nicely. The Fat Controller tells James that he is a mixed-traffic engine, so can take coaches or trucks easily but must learn from his mistakes. James, who had a nasty accident with trucks on his first day, knew exactly what the Fat Controller meant.

James' first job of the day is to double-head a train of coaches with Edward, who warns him that the coaches don't like being bumped. People have arrived on the platform to admire James, who quickly gets full of himself and lets off steam without warning causing a shower of water to fall on the Fat Controller's brand new top hat. It is time for the train to leave and James tries to get out as fast as he can which angers Edward and the coaches. This causes trouble at the first station, when James causes two of the coaches to run beyond the platform forcing the train to reverse to let the passengers out. However, it seems that no one knows what happened with the Fat Controller, much to James's relief.

Next James and Edward stop at the station on Thomas' new branch line, where the tank engine greets James before leaving. The train then passes the field where James had crashed. Finally, the journey ends and after unloading the passengers James and Edward head for home, with James still wondering what the Fat Controller will have to say about his top hat.

The next morning, the Fat Controller visits James in the shed and gives him a severe telling off and warns him that if anything else happens, then James will be punished by being painted blue. James does not like this idea at all.

However, rather than calm James down, this only serves to make him angry and later that day he roughly bumps his coaches, moaning that he has to fetch them. To make matters worse, none of the passengers dare go near him, which makes James even crosser.

James pulls the coaches very roughly and tries to run as fast as he can. Eventually the coaches force James to stop. His driver explains that James' rough treatment has caused a leak in the coaches pipes. The crew inspects the damage and the guard's only recommendation is to plug the leak with newspaper and a leather bootlace. However none of the crew have a leather bootlace on them. They ask the passengers and the guard finds a man with a leather bootlace, who initially refuses to give it up. The guard explains that without the bootlace, the train can not continue. The other passengers get very angry, both at the man and at the railway. Under pressure, the man finally hands over the bootlace and the damage is temporarily repaired allowing James to finish the journey.

James proceeds on his way with the coaches, knowing that he is going to be in a lot of trouble with the Fat Controller.




  • This episode is based on the stories James and the Top-Hat and James and the Bootlace from The Railway Series book, James the Red Engine.
  • Stock footage from Thomas and the Breakdown Train is used.
  • A train passing Edward and James, when they are in front of the Fat Controller, has a truck with "NE" painted on the side.
  • The two coaches at the end of James' train are Annie and Clarabel (in that order).
  • In both Ringo Starr narrations, when James meets Thomas, Thomas says, "Hello James, feeling better? That's right!" In the George Carlin narration, he says, "...feeling better? That's good!"
  • When James lets off steam and ruins Sir Topham Hatt's top hat, George Carlin makes a "weesh" which is absent in both Ringo Starr narrations.
  • When James stops after making a hole in the brake pipe, in both Ringo Starr narrations, his driver says that the brakes were "hard" on. In the George Carlin narration, he simply says that they are on.


  • While the Fat Controller is talking to Edward and James, a train passing them has a brakevan in the middle of its train.
  • It is mentioned that the events of the previous episode happened on James' first day. However, James had appeared in every single episode leading up to the airing of the aforementioned episode.
  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas leaves the junction.
  • A member of James' crew is blonde at the beginning, but when his crew wonder how to fix the leak all three have dark hair.
  • When James and Edward overrun the platform, they are on Thomas' Branch Line.
  • When James and Edward pass by the field where James crashed, the narrator says that the fence was mended, but there never was a fence.


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German James und die Personenwagen James and the Cars
Croatian Jurica i putnik Kola James and the Passenger Wagons
Finnish Jaska ja Matkustajavaunut James and the Passenger Coaches
Danish James og passagervogne James and the Passenger Coaches
Dutch James en de personenwagons James and the Passenger Coaches
Italian Sbagliando s'impara You Will Learn From Mistakes
Spanish James Aprende Una Lección / James y los vagones James Learns a Lesson / James and the Wagons
Norwegian James og passasjervognene James and the Passenger Coaches
Brazilian Portuguese O Conserto The Fix
French James et les wagons James and the Wagons
Hebrew ג'יימס והקרונות James and the Wagons
Japanese ジェームスのあやまち James' Mistakes
Welsh James a'r Cerbydau James and the Vehicles
Slovenian Jakob in potniški vagoni James and the Coaches
Polish Kuba i Wagony James and the Wagons
Chinese 詹姆士和车厢 James and the Cars
Korean 제임스의 실수 James' Mistake
Hungarian James és a Vagonok James and the Wagons
Swedish James och Personvagnarna James and the Passenger Carriages
Romanian James şi Vagoanele James and the Wagons
Slovak James a vagóny James and the Wagons
Russian На ошибках учатся Learn from the Mistakes
Czech James a vagóny James and the Wagons
Serbian James i vagoni James and the Wagons
Thai เจมส์อารมณ์บูด James' Mood

Home Media Releases


DVD Packs


  • Thomas and Gordon and other Stories


VHS/DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets

  • Classic Collection
  • Series One and Series Two Double Pack


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