Thomas the Tank Engine "Down the Mine" (partially found unaired pitch pilot version of children's TV series; early 1980s)

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Shot from the final episode that appears to have originated from the pilot.

Status: Partially Found

In the early 1980s, Thomas & Friends was being pitched to several networks. A test pilot was made of what would later become the 25th episode, "Down the Mine". According to pilot editor Micheal Dixon, this was nothing like the final episode, with fewer characters, smaller sets, and flatter lighting.

Nothing of this pilot version has surfaced except for a single shot in the final aired version which seems to be have been reused from the pilot. When Thomas passes Knapford station, his model appears to be much more simplistic than the one used in the series, the main differences being the paint on his front splasher appearing to be missing the red lining, his siderods seeming more toy-like in appearance and his face being different compared to the one used.

Images of the pilot version of Gordon, by model maker Christopher Noulton, can be seen in an interview by Sodor Island Fansite.[1] The pilot model of Gordon was apparently revamped for use as a standby model in the second season of Thomas & Friends. Eventually, however, it was dismantled and used as engine scrap set dressing.


Footage of the pilot from the broadcast version of the episode.