Thomas the Tank Engine "The Missing Coach" (partially found footage from unfinished episode of children's TV series; 1986)
"The Missing Coach" (also referred to as "Hullo Twins!" during early development) was a scrapped episode of Thomas the Tank Engine based off the Railway Series story of the same name that was intended to be the sixteenth episode of series 2.
"The Missing Coach" saw the arrival of twin engines Donald and Douglas, having been ordered from Scotland by the Fat Controller; the twins soon discover that only one engine was sent for and that the other would not be needed (and would likely be sent back). Douglas and his driver, after realising that Douglas is, in fact, the extra, unneeded engine and after mistakenly misplacing Thomas' Special Coach, prompting complaints from passengers (Douglas fearing that his error would give the Fat Controller more reason to get rid of him), hatch a plan with Donald and his driver to switch tenders (on which their respective numbers had been painted), effectively swapping identities and giving Douglas a chance to temporarily avoid being scolded by the Fat Controller (who ultimately decides to keep both engines, but only after uncovering their charade).
Halfway through the episode's production, Britt Allcroft (creator of the Thomas TV adaptation) decided that it was somewhat lacking in action and that the plot was a bit too complex for children to comprehend; as such, the episode was cancelled outright, instead being replaced by an entirely different episode (which episode this is is currently unknown). Donald and Douglas' official series debut took place in the later series 2 episode "Break Van", in which they were hurriedly introduced through a short piece of opening dialogue. Following the cancellation, numerous clips were placed into other episodes from the series in order to save both time and money, with "Missing Coach" clips being known to have been used in the episodes "Break Van" and "Saved From Scrap".
Beyond the footage used in other episodes, what footage was filmed of "The Missing Coach" has never been released, with the closest thing being a large amount of stills released through promotional material or leaked by fans of the series. It is stated on the Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia that Britt Allcroft's (currently unidentified) nephew once claimed to own footage from the episode, but neither the claim of the Wikia or the alleged claim of the nephew have been confirmed true. Additionally, David Mitton (co-writer, co-producer, and co-director of the first seven series of Thomas) claimed in an interview with Sodor Island Fansite that he was in possession of numerous colour stills from the episode taken during its shooting process (as shot by Terry Permane). Mitton never elaborated on these claims before his passing in 2008, and it is currently unknown if the stills he was referring to were among those leaked by fans years after the fact.
- A reading of The Missing Coach's original 1960 Railway Series story. Retrieved 09 Nov '14
- Thomas & Friends Wikia page on "The Missing Coach". Retrieved 09 Nov '14
- Twitter post by TomsProps. Retrieved 25 May '20
- Archived Sodor Island Fansite interview with the late David Mitton, in which "The Missing Coach" is discussed. Retrieved 19 Jan '20