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Oliver is a Great Western tank engine who works on Duck's Branch Line.
Bio in the Railway Series
Oliver worked on the Great Western Railway. Sometime during the 1960s, he ran away for fear of being scrapped with his coach, Isabel, and a brakevan named Toad. The three were forced to hide between signalboxes and rely on the goodwill of signalmen to pass at safe times. When control got wind of the runaways, they hid in an old quarry branch and had the cutting blocked by rubbish to avoid being spotted by the Diesels outside. The runaways decided it was safe to leave at some point, but before they could reach the greener pastures of Sodor, Oliver ran out of coal. Luckily, Douglas was able to rescue Oliver and hid him on a siding at Crovan's Gate. The Fat Controller soon found out and arranged for the three to be repaired and painted in Great Western colours. Toad decided to be Douglas' brakevan to thank him, and the Fat Controller rescued an autocoach named Dulcie and gave her to Oliver.
Oliver was then sent to work on the Tidmouth-Arlesburgh branch line, but became conceited after the big engines gave him their respect in recognition of his adventures and pushed his weight around, prompting several ballast trucks to push him into a turntable well. Oliver received little respect from the trucks after the incident, but got his own back by pulling the ringleader, S. C. Ruffey, apart. Oliver is now well-respected by the trucks, out of fear they will be pulled apart too.
Bio in the television series
Oliver and Toad were escaping from scrap when Douglas found, saved, and brought them to the North Western Railway. The other engines were impressed by his adventures and the attention soon went to Oliver's smokebox. He was so conceited that he ignored Duck and Donald's advice about trucks and several pushed him into the turntable well. Upon his return from the Works, Oliver regained his respect after pulling the ringleader of the trucks, S. C. Ruffey, apart. Oliver has since had many adventures, such as running Thomas' Branch Line during the engines' trip to England, discovering an abandoned house which was later turned into a tea-house, spending a night as a snowman after crashing into one in the village, and being saved by Emily when he was about to be hit by Thomas.
Oliver escaped the dreaded scrapyards of the Mainland, mainly thanks to Douglas, but also as the result of sympathetic signalmen, luck, and using goods only routes under cover of darkness, with some close calls along the way. Despite his previous heroism and daring feats, Oliver is an engine who is willing to admit every day is a learning curve. When he was still new to Sodor, he let the other engines' responses to his courage, resource, and sagacity from his amazing recounts of daring escapes and adventures get to his smokebox and he became conceited. However, when troublesome trucks pushed him into the turntable well, he grew into a much more humble, settled engine and was far warier of trucks. But later, with some help from his brake van Toad, he did gain much respect and authority among the trucks when he showed his strength with the ringleader of the trucks, S. C. Ruffey, a little more than he had perhaps been intending. Oliver still has gumption, but is now a more obedient, sensible engine. He feels his responsibility on the railway deeply, is ever thankful for being aided in his escape from scrap by Douglas, and is a trustworthy, tenacious, plucky engine. However, he does occasionally has one or two temper problems and grumbles quite easily (which has been correctly proven in Season 7), but despite this setback, Oliver is still one of the more really useful, and well-behaved engines on Sodor.
Oliver is based on a GWR 14xx 0-4-2T. These engines were fitted with a mechanical system allowing the driver to control the locomotive remotely from the cab of an autocoach, such as Isabel. The particular engine Oliver is based on, No. 1436, was built at Swindon Works in the August of 1934 and worked until it was withdrawn in 1958. It was scrapped the following year.
In the Railway Series, Oliver is painted in the GWR's green livery with yellow lining, black wheels and a brass GWR numberplate on his cab side. In the television series, his paint had faded by the time he was rescued, leaving him a rusty-red colour. After his rescue, he was repainted green and has remained so since.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
- Enterprising Engines - Escape and Little Western (does not speak)
- Oliver the Western Engine - Resource and Sagacity, Toad Stands By and Bulgy
- Duke the Lost Engine - Sleeping Beauty (cameo)
- Jock the New Engine - (mentioned in foreword)
- Henry and the Express - Sliding Scales (cameo) and Henry Sees Red (cameo)
- Wilbert the Forest Engine - Wired-Up (does not speak)
- Oliver is named after Oliver Wicks, who was a much respected member of Stroud Baptist Church. He was the Rev. W. Awdry's next door neighbour in Rodborough, Stroud.
- Oliver speaks with a Cornish accent.
- Oliver's original third season whistle sound is Gordon's at two whole steps higher in pitch, and in some episodes, he shared the same whistle sound as Edward.
- Oliver's theme first heard in the third season is a musical variation on the theme from the 1963 film, The Great Escape. It's also reminiscent to a portion of the TUGS Danger theme.
- Ironically, Oliver’s first appearance involved him escaping from somewhere.
- Some of Oliver's earlier merchandise had black wheels, indicating he was based off how he looked in the Railway Series. This was later fixed so it resembles how he looks like in the television series.
- In the French version from Seasons 3 to 7, Oliver is called Olivier.
- Oliver has had many modifications throughout the television series. These include:
- Season 4:
- His whistle sound changed to Duck's at a whole step lower in pitch.
- Season 6:
- He gained a coupling hook base.
- Season 4:
- "Oliver's no use at all; thinks he's very clever.
Says that he can manage us; that's the best joke ever!
When he orders us about, with the greatest folly,
We just push him down the well, Pop goes old Ollie!"
- The Troublesome Trucks and S.C. Ruffey teasing Oliver with a song, Oliver the Western Engine
- "I'm a Great Western engine, I shouldn't have to shiver!"
-Oliver, Snow Engine, seventh season
- ERTL (discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (two versions; reintroduced 2014)
- Take Along (discontinued; normal and metallic)
- Motor Road and Rail (discontinued)
- TrackMaster (UK only; discontinued)
- My First Thomas (normal and talking; both versions discontinued)
- Hornby (discontinued)
- Brio (discontinued)