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

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The sad story of henry title card.png

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[edit | edit source]

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. Marriott approved the proposal. The broadcast was to be done using 00 Gauge Hornby Models, with sets based on the book's original illustrations to fulfil the Awdrys' request that the adaptation be as faithful as possible. It was broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios on Sunday, June 14th, 1953.

Live Broadcast[edit | edit source]

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 narration by Julia Lang. The script was "freely adapted" to ensure that the broadcasts met 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. But to the surprise of the viewers, a hand picked up the engine and put it back on the rails.

Aftermath/Preservation[edit | edit source]

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

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, however, a Sodor Island Forums user named OJ said that he might have seen a clip of it while watching an episode of "It'll Be Alright on the Night" somewhere in the 1990s. Sadly, the clip was later found to be something completely unrelated.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

ClickClackTrack's video on the subject.
Scribbles to Screen's video mentioning "The Sad Story of Henry"'s 1953 adaptation (0:42-3:43).

See Also (BBC Wiped Programs Media)[edit | edit source]

See Also (Thomas Series)[edit | edit source]

Thomas & Friends[edit | edit source]

Thomas the Tank Engine[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]