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

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|title=<center>The Sad Story of Henry (1953 live broadcast)</center>
 
|title=<center>The Sad Story of Henry (1953 live broadcast)</center>
 
|image=The sad story of henry title card.png
 
|image=The sad story of henry title card.png
|imagecaption=Original U.K. title card from the show.
+
|imagecaption= Title card from the 1984 remake of the episode.
 
|status=<span style="color:red;">'''Lost'''</span>
 
|status=<span style="color:red;">'''Lost'''</span>
 
}}
 
}}
''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 the Awdrys' stories, it was not the first, having been preceded by '''a live broadcast in 1953 by the BBC'''. Unfortunately the technical difficulties associated with it would prevent a full series being commissioned for some time to come.
+
''Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends'' is by now one of the world's most iconic and beloved children’s TV shows. Originally adapted from the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher Awdry’s ''Railway Series'' stories, the TV series began airing in 1984 and has continued in some form or another through to the 2020s. While this is certainly the most famous adaptation of the Awdrys' anthropomorphic train tales, it was not the first, having been preceded by '''a live BBC broadcast in 1953'''. Unfortunately the technical difficulties associated with this adaptation would prevent a full series being commissioned for the intervening thirty years.
  
 
==Background==
 
==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. Marriott and Rev. Awdry approved the proposal, on condition only that the the adaptation be as faithful as possible. The broadcast was to be done using 00 Gauge Hornby Models, with sets based on the book's original illustrations to ensure authenticity. The script however was "freely adapted", in order to fit the ten-minute broadcast limit. It was broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios on Sunday, June 14th, 1953.
+
In mid-1953, the BBC approached ''The Railway Series'' editor Eric Marriott and inquired about the possibility of adapting at least two stories to television. Marriott and Rev. Awdry approved the proposal on the condition that the the adaptation be as faithful as possible, in particular to the authentic technical details. Thus the broadcast was to be done using specially-modified 00 Gauge Hornby models of the actual engines pictured in the books, with a track layout and sets likewise designed to ensure maximum faithfulness to the original illustrations. The script however was 'freely adapted', in order to fit the ten-minute broadcast limit. It was to be broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios on Sunday, June 14th, 1953.
  
 
==Live Broadcast==
 
==Live Broadcast==
For this initial attempt, the BBC had chosen to adapt "The Sad Story of Henry", a suitably dramatic tale of the titular engine being bricked up in a tunnel after he refuses to leave it for fear of a rainstorm spoiling his new paint. The live adaptation was a complex production for the time, including the elaborate model train setup plus superimposed rain and other effects, overlaid by music and narration by Julia Lang. The models were reported to jerk around as they moved, but other than that, the broadcast went well - until the lead engine derailed, the train set operator having missed switching the points before the engine arrived at them. To the surprise of viewers, a human hand abruptly picked up the engine and put it back on the rails instead.
+
For this initial attempt, the BBC had chosen to adapt "The Sad Story of Henry", a suitably dramatic tale of the titular engine being bricked up in a tunnel after he refuses to leave it for fear of a rainstorm spoiling his new paint. The live adaptation had to be put together within a month, with the custom model train setup not arriving in-studio until the final rehearsals; not ideal for what was already a notably complex production for the time, also including superimposed rain and other effects overlaid by music and narration by Julia Lang. The models were said to be a bit jerky, but all started off well... until the lead engine derailed, the train set operator having missed switching the points before the engine arrived at them. To the great surprise of viewers - including Marriott and Rev. Awdry - a human hand picked up the engine and put it back on the rails instead.
  
 
==Aftermath/Preservation==
 
==Aftermath/Preservation==
The broadcast went on without further incident and was generally well-received, but the derailment and its unexpected resolution managed to make the front page of several newspapers. An angry Rev. Awdry is recorded therein as demanding guarantees that a similar blunder would not happen in the second broadcast (scheduled for June 28th); however seriously the BBC took this, the second broadcast was in fact put on hold, and later cancelled. Although numerous attempts were made to revive the series, all were unsuccessful until the iconic current series began airing in 1991.
+
The broadcast went on without further incident, but the derailment and its unexpected resolution managed to attract notice from several national newspapers. Rev. Awdry is recorded therein as being disappointed with many aspects of the adaptation, including the script changes (which added characters not in the original) the jerky model movement and above all the 'elementary mistake' of the incorrectly set points. He demanded guarantees that a similar blunder would not happen in the second broadcast, scheduled for June 28th; however seriously the BBC took his complaints, the second broadcast was in fact put on hold, and later cancelled. Although numerous attempts were made to revive the series, all were unsuccessful until the current series began production three full decades later.
  
As the show was broadcast live and knowing the BBC's track record for preserving old content - let alone one with this kind of technical issue - it's no surprise that it is entirely 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.
+
As the show was broadcast live, and knowing the BBC's track record for preserving old content - let alone one with this kind of embarrassing technical issue - it can safely be considered completely lost, save in the highly unlikely event that anyone recorded it privately. Any claims or clips to the contrary floating about online are either re-creations or proven incorrect recollections.
  
 
==Gallery==
 
==Gallery==
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   |service1    =youtube
 
   |service1    =youtube
 
   |id1          =v=Jzb9xa0oN-I&t=12s
 
   |id1          =v=Jzb9xa0oN-I&t=12s
   |description1 =ClickClackTrack's video on the subject.
+
   |description1 =ClickClackTrack's video on the subject, including Marriott's and Awdry's reactions.
 
   |service2    =youtube
 
   |service2    =youtube
 
   |id2          =v=foPFm5OrS7I
 
   |id2          =v=foPFm5OrS7I
   |description2 =Scribbles to Screen's video mentioning "The Sad Story of Henry"'s 1953 adaptation (0:42-3:43).
+
   |description2 =Scribbles to Screen's video mentioning the 1953 adaptation (0:42-3:43).
 
}}
 
}}
  
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*[[Top Of The Pops (partially lost British music series; 1964-2006)]]
 
*[[Top Of The Pops (partially lost British music series; 1964-2006)]]
 
*[[United! (lost British soap opera; 1965-1967)]]
 
*[[United! (lost British soap opera; 1965-1967)]]
*[[Zingalong (partially found British children's series; 2002-2004)]]
 
  
 
==See Also (Thomas Series)==
 
==See Also (Thomas Series)==

Latest revision as of 17:06, 13 May 2022

The sad story of henry title card.png

Title card from the 1984 remake of the episode.

Status: Lost

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is by now one of the world's most iconic and beloved children’s TV shows. Originally adapted from the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher Awdry’s Railway Series stories, the TV series began airing in 1984 and has continued in some form or another through to the 2020s. While this is certainly the most famous adaptation of the Awdrys' anthropomorphic train tales, it was not the first, having been preceded by a live BBC broadcast in 1953. Unfortunately the technical difficulties associated with this adaptation would prevent a full series being commissioned for the intervening thirty years.

Background[edit | edit source]

In mid-1953, the BBC approached The Railway Series editor Eric Marriott and inquired about the possibility of adapting at least two stories to television. Marriott and Rev. Awdry approved the proposal on the condition that the the adaptation be as faithful as possible, in particular to the authentic technical details. Thus the broadcast was to be done using specially-modified 00 Gauge Hornby models of the actual engines pictured in the books, with a track layout and sets likewise designed to ensure maximum faithfulness to the original illustrations. The script however was 'freely adapted', in order to fit the ten-minute broadcast limit. It was to be broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios on Sunday, June 14th, 1953.

Live Broadcast[edit | edit source]

For this initial attempt, the BBC had chosen to adapt "The Sad Story of Henry", a suitably dramatic tale of the titular engine being bricked up in a tunnel after he refuses to leave it for fear of a rainstorm spoiling his new paint. The live adaptation had to be put together within a month, with the custom model train setup not arriving in-studio until the final rehearsals; not ideal for what was already a notably complex production for the time, also including superimposed rain and other effects overlaid by music and narration by Julia Lang. The models were said to be a bit jerky, but all started off well... until the lead engine derailed, the train set operator having missed switching the points before the engine arrived at them. To the great surprise of viewers - including Marriott and Rev. Awdry - a human hand picked up the engine and put it back on the rails instead.

Aftermath/Preservation[edit | edit source]

The broadcast went on without further incident, but the derailment and its unexpected resolution managed to attract notice from several national newspapers. Rev. Awdry is recorded therein as being disappointed with many aspects of the adaptation, including the script changes (which added characters not in the original) the jerky model movement and above all the 'elementary mistake' of the incorrectly set points. He demanded guarantees that a similar blunder would not happen in the second broadcast, scheduled for June 28th; however seriously the BBC took his complaints, the second broadcast was in fact put on hold, and later cancelled. Although numerous attempts were made to revive the series, all were unsuccessful until the current series began production three full decades later.

As the show was broadcast live, and knowing the BBC's track record for preserving old content - let alone one with this kind of embarrassing technical issue - it can safely be considered completely lost, save in the highly unlikely event that anyone recorded it privately. Any claims or clips to the contrary floating about online are either re-creations or proven incorrect recollections.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

ClickClackTrack's video on the subject, including Marriott's and Awdry's reactions.
Scribbles to Screen's video mentioning the 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]