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Railway Children, The

1 9 6 8 (UK)
7 x 30 minute episodes

This is arguably the best of the BBC television adaptations (they already made the 1906 E Nesbit novel into a series in 1951 and another in 1957).

When their father (Frederick Treves) is taken away in the middle of the night, “Bobbie” (Jenny Agutter), Peter (Neil McDermott) and Phylis (Gillian Bailey) have to leave their cosy London home and travel with their mother (Ann Castle) to live in the countryside.

Travelling by train, it is late at night when they reach their lonely destination, but Perks the Porter from the local railway station (Gordon Gostelow) directs them to “Three Chimneys”, which is to be their new home.

As they become accustomed to their new impoverished life in the country, the children begin waving to the trains that pass by on the local railway line. In one particular train (the 9:15), an old gentleman (Joseph O’Conor) in the first-class carriage kindly waves back to the children.

Painting a message on a sheet, the children meet the old gentleman at the station and appeal to him for help – they have no money and their mother has become ill.

A basket of provisions duly arrives at Three Chimneys with a card from “your friend on the 9:15”. Meanwhile, mother is on the mend.

The family are eventually visited by an old Russian author named Ivan (Stefan Gryff) whose family have been deported. He’s been looking for them having just been released from prison himself. The children ask the old gentleman on the 9:15 to help locate Ivan’s family, which he duly does.

Meanwhile, the children discover their father is in prison, save a train from crashing into a fallen tree, and rescue a schoolboy called Jim (Christopher Witty) who is injured in the railway tunnel. It transpires that Jim is actually the grandson of the kind old gentleman on the train, whose name is Mr Inglewood.

Finally, they are reunited with their father who alights from a train at the local station and walks “home” with them to Three Chimneys. The end.

Jenny Agutter would later reprise her role as Bobbie in the 1970 film adaptation

This version of The Railway Children featured an abundance of location filming, most of it on Yorkshire’s Keighley and Worth Valley Preservation Railway.

Roberta “Bobbie” Faraday
Jenny Agutter
Peter Faraday
Neil McDermott
Phyllis Faraday
Gillian Bailey
Mother
Ann Castle
Perks
Gordon Gostelow
Stationmaster
Brian Hayes
Dr Forrest
John Ringham
Old Gentleman
Joseph O’Conor
Ruth the maid
Mary Healey
Jim
Christopher Witty
Ivan
Stefan Gryff
Father
Frederick Treves

Episodes

The Visitors | The Coalminers | The Message | The Foreign Gentleman | The Secret | The Rescue | The Meeting