The Sad Story of Henry (lost "The Railway Series" live BBC broadcast; 1953)

The Sad Story of Henry (1953 live broadcast)
Original U.K. title card from the show.
Original U.K. title card from the show.
Status Lost

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is a children’s show adapted from the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher Awdry’s “The Railway Series” stories. While this is certainly the most famous adaption of Awdry’s stories, it was not the first. The first attempt was a live broadcast in 1953 by the BBC. However, the broadcast didn’t fare well and caused a full series never to be produced.

Background

In 1953, the BBC approached the Railway Series editor Eric Marriott and inquired about the possibility of adapting at least two stories from the Railway Series to television in June of that same year. The proposition was agreed to by the author. The broadcast was to be done using 00 Gauge Hornby Models, while the sets were reminiscent of the illustrations of the book. This was to ensure that authenticity to the author and publishers' requests. The episode was broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios on Sunday, June 14, 1953.

Live Broadcast

The story that the BBC chose to adopt was Wilbert's third story "The Sad Story of Henry". However, the director had to deal with the 00 Gauge Models, Superimposed rain, effects, music, and a narration by Julia Lang. The script was 'freely adapted' to ensure the broadcasts meet the ten-minute broadcast limit. The models were reported to jerk around as they moved. Other than that, the broadcast went fine until the engine derailed. This was caused by the mistake of not switching the points before the engine arrived at them. To the surprise of the viewers, a hand picked up the engine and put it back on the rails!

Aftermath

The incident made the front of several newspapers a week later. This caused the June 28 broadcast to be put on hold and later canceled and although numerous attempts were made to revive the series, all were unsuccessful.

Preservation

As the show was broadcast live and knowing the BBC's track record for preserving old content, it is no surprise that the broadcast is lost. It is highly unlikely that anyone recorded the single broadcast. Nothing is known to be left of this project and will probably never surface.

Gallery

The Thomas and Friends' adaption of "The Sad Story of Henry".

External Links

Comments

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KillerHD

18 months ago
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That photos in the video aren t from the pilot, that model were indeed made in 1953, but not for the BBC broadcast, they were made for showcase the books

The photos were taken from this page: http://www.p...s/mm_prw.htm
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Anonymous user #1

17 months ago
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A hand? LOL. I want to see this.
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Anonymous user #2

16 months ago
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i Know That there is An image on The Ttte Wikia.
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TheYoshiState

16 months ago
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Then post it here.
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Anonymous user #3

12 months ago
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Here's all I know from very little digging, I'm going to try to research more: 1. The studio the pilot was created in, Lime Grove Studios, was unfortunately demolished in the early nineties. This probably centers the search at BBC studios, who MAY have it, but it's questionable.

2. Someone commented on the YouTube video of the 1953 train models that someone commented that he had seen something about The Sad Story of Henry on a British show called 'It'll be alright on the night'. The bad thing is, no such comments exist (or I'm blind).

3. This is only a suggestion. I have suggested for someone to look for 1953 british newspaper archives, as apparently the 'The Sad Story of Henry' incident made it onto front pages of the newspaper.
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Anonymous user #3

1 months ago
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other random user here. In response to some of your points:

1. BBC isn't very good at restoring old footage from their channel. The broadcast was live and probably wasn't restored due to the bad reception. It's either sitting around rotting in BBC studios somewhere, or it's lost entirely. This could be why you don't hear about the search for this, as it's unlikely this thing still exists. the thrill of the search and potential find is still very cool.

2. I saw that comment on YouTube. I believe I've seen that comment he referenced and I remember responding to that comment, too! I don't quite remember the original site, but I believe it's another lost media website on a page about this very subject. And on the chances of finding that scene from It'll be Alright on the Night- It's certainly not on YouTube. If there's an archive of all the episodes, that be a great source. But this lead currently won't lead us far. CURRENTLY.

3. And what I think is the best lead- the newspapers. There are a vast array of archives from Britain from 1953, and a simple search of "British newspapers 1953" will get you a lot. We've got 2 problems, ill start with the lesser one. I've heard two separate sources, one that says the newspapers reported this a day after or one week after. This would help, but it's easy to look at both sources. The main problem is the British archives are iffy in that you have to register to see the actual newspapers, as you'll only get the front page on a basic search. This makes you spend money, which I'm not made of. I will say on my basic, no money spent skim search that June 15th, 1953 has not given me anything. Nothing referencing the incident. I'll check June 21st (1 week later) but that's not a good initial sign.

Hope this helps.
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Piggyfan101

12 months ago
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I think that it could be out in the wild, literally.
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TheYoshiState

12 months ago
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...so you mean it's sitting right dead in the middle of a huge forest?
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Piggyfan101

12 months ago
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I mean it could be Anywhere like under BBC's HQ. I think a recording still exists if animal skins and dinosaur bones can be preserved.
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Gorillaz27

10 months ago
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Well considering the BBC's track record with old shows, there's a probable 90% chance it was either taped over or destroyed. But who the heck knows, maybe it's in an abandoned vault or something.
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TeridaxXD001

5 months ago
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I'd love to see this. Thomas was a big part of my early childhood, and the hand thing sounds like one of those "so bad it's good" things I love to see. However, as noted above, the BBC was notoriously cheap. It was broadcast live, and videotape was almost nonexistent on 1953, only having been available for a couple years at that point and almost nobody used it because it was pretty expensive. Simultaneous filming of live broadcasts was also rare.

I think it's a lost cause, personally.
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Anonymous user #4

2 months ago
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It could be, but you never know, people out there could surprise you! I almost always think on the bright side of these lost media pages, that people could dig THAT deep to find something. Eh, I might be wrong, but who knows!

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