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"Why, 'tis a floatin' basket with folk in it."
"Whatever will they dream up next?
— Donald and Douglas

James and the Red Balloon is the fifteenth episode of the sixth season.


It is summer holiday time on the Island of Sodor and the holidaymakers are coming to visit the Island. Thomas picks up a special to take to Dryaw Airfield, Thomas tells Percy he is taking a balloon, and Percy thinks it is a party balloon, but Thomas corrects him and says that it's a special balloon and chuffs away.

Thomas arrives at the airfield and the hot air balloon is starting to blow. James arrives and Thomas explains that the balloon is for taking holidaymakers around the island, but James is jealous because taking holidaymakers is a job for engines. He asks what will happen if the balloon takes their passengers and what will become of them. After hearing this, Thomas is not excited about the balloon anymore. The balloon can be seen from everyone on the Island.

Later that day, Thomas and James are waiting at a crossing talking about the hot air balloon, until the hot air balloon falls on top of James after it runs out of hot air. James, petrified, lets off a huge burst of steam, which invariably blows the balloon up again. His driver cheers for him, but Thomas and James are upset that it would eventually take their passengers.

James arrives at Dryaw where a lot of visitors and the Fat Controller are waiting. He praises him, but James tells him that the balloon will take their passengers. The Fat Controller laughs saying that he is right, but also reminds him that the holidaymakers will need a ride home in a train. James is relieved, as the engines are now busier than ever taking vacations to and from the airfield for balloon rides. Whenever James sees the red balloon, he whistles hello, and sometimes when he is asleep, he wishes he could fly to, just like the red balloon.




  • This story may be loosely adapted from the Christopher Awdry book, James and the Balloons.
  • This is one of the few episodes of the sixth season to be renarrated by Michael Brandon.
  • In the Michael Angelis and Alec Baldwin narrations, Donald says "a flying basket with folk in it", whereas Michael Brandon makes him say "...with people in it". Also, in the Michael Angelis and Michael Brandon narrations, they say "Ahhhh! cried James. What's happening?!" long after Alec Baldwin does.


  • There is a chip on the front of Thomas' right tank at Brendam.
  • When Thomas leaves Brendam, Percy's trucks disappear.
  • The end of the tracks crossing the level crossing are visible, more so for James' side.
  • When the balloon collapses on top of James the crossing gates switch so James and Thomas can go on.
  • The footage of the balloon collapsing on top of James is reversed, as the smoke goes inward.
  • In some shots at Dryaw, the tracks running through lead to bushes at both ends.
  • The tracks under the bridge in the last shot lead to bushes.
  • Why would George have the right-of-way at the grade crossing?
  • When Percy says "What have you got there?" Thomas does not have a face.
  • A brakevan should have been added to Thomas' train.
  • Stepney looks happy when Duck bumps into him.


  • Books - Thomas, James and the Red Balloon and Thomas, James and the Red Balloon (Germany only)
  • Magazine stories - James and the Red Balloon

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Norwegian James og den røde ballongen James and the Red Balloon
Welsh Mae Balwn ar gyfer James A Balloon for James
Danish Den Røde Ballon The Red Balloon
Dutch James en de Rode Ballon James and the Red Balloon
Japanese ジェームスとあかいききゅう James and the Red Balloon
Slovenian Jakob in Rdeči Balon James and the Red Balloon
Polish Kuba i Czerwony Balon James and the Red Balloon
Hungarian James és a piros léggömb James and the Red Balloon
Italian James e il Pallone Rosso James and the Red Balloon
Russian Джеймс и красный шарик James and the Red Balloon
Romanian James şi Balonul cel Roşu James and the Red Balloon
Swedish Den röda ballongen The Red Balloon
Slovak Jakub a červený balón James and the Red Balloon
Chinese 詹姆士与红气球 James and the Red Balloon
Korean 제임스의 걱정 James' Worries
Thai เจมส์อิจฉาบอลลูน James is Jealous of the Balloon

Home Media Releases


DVD Packs


DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets

  • My First Thomas
  • My First Thomas (3 Disc Set)
  • 60th Anniversary - Limited Edition Boxset
  • 3 DVDs (Boxset)
  • Series Five and Series Six Double Pack


  • Percy's Chocolate Crash

DK DVD Boxsets

  • Danish DVD Boxset (2008)


  • Percy's Chocolate Dip


  • Gordon Takes a Tumble and Other Thomas Adventures
  • Scaredy Engines and Other Adventures


  • Thomas the Tank Engine Series 6 Vol.6
  • Anytime With James! (Japanese DVD)


  • The Jet Engine (Italian DVD)


  • The Story of Getting to Know Nature


  • Thomas and Friends Volume 14 (Thai DVD)
  • Thomas and Friends - Volume 21 (Thai DVD)


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