The Royal Train

The Royal Train

Infobox Dad's Army
episode_number episode_name=056 - The Royal Train
script=Jimmy Perry and David Croft
director=David Croft
producer=David Croft
original_transmission=14/11/73 8.00pm
length=30 minutes
viewing_figures=??? million
preceding=My British Buddy
following=We Know Our Onions

"The Royal Train" is the third episode of the sixth series of the British comedy series "Dad's Army" that was originally transmitted on the 14 November 1973.


King George VI is set to pass through Walmington by train, and the platoon is to provide the guard of honour. A train duly arrives, but it is the wrong train, and its drivers fall asleep after drinking tea sweetened by Mrs Mainwaring's sleeping pills. Now the platoon must move the train to clear the line for the King.


The episode opens with Jones smartening up Wilson on the office, getting ready to go up to the station for a special parade, at which Mainwaring will open some sealed orders. Mainwaring arrives, having been to the chemist to get some sleeping pills for Mrs Mainwaring, "a very nervous and highly strung woman, Wilson". Jones relates how the only medicines they had in the Sudan were cascara and bicarbonate of soda; good for making you run and making you belch, but little else.

Pike arrives, and insists it is his turn to carry the Tommy gun, but in the process knocks Mainwarings sleeping tablets onto the floor and breaks the bottle. Jones says the broken shards of glass could be fatal if Mrs Mainwaring ate them, but Mainwaring seems unconcerned. They are put in a bottle labelled 'saccharine'.

At the station, Frazer is making tea - Walker has supplied it and is charging 3d a cup. Pike asks Mainwaring if once he has read the secret orders, he is going to eat them, whereupon Jones volunteers to eat them.

Mainwaring goes into the kitchen and opens the secret orders, in the process leaving the saccharine bottle on the kitchen table. He comes out and gathers the platoon round him, then quietly reveals that King George VI will shortly be passing through the station in the Royal Train. The platoon are to guard the station, and present arms as the train steams through. Mainwaring emphasises the secrecy, then Hodges arrives, shouting "where's the King". The platoon practise presenting arms, then the station master and clerk arrive, flustered, asking if the King is here yet. The platoon practise some more, the vicar, verger and mayor arrive.

A train whistle gets them all rushing out onto the platform, but it is a slow stopping train. The driver and fireman get off, holding a defective brake wheel, and go to the office to telephone the depot. Whilst there, they make a cup of tea each, and load it with pills from the saccharine bottle.

Mainwaring checks the train politely for the King, then the Station Master reappears and complains that this train is in the way, but the crew are now asleep in the kitchen. Pike tells Mainwaring he can drive it, so whilst the Station Master is on the phone the platoon climb into the cab and set off. The station Master rushes out after they have gone, clutching the steam brake wheel.

In the engine cab, Pike announces to Mainwaring that he can't stop the train, and Mainwaring calls him a 'stupid boy'. Frazer spots that the vicar, verger, warden and Mayor are chasing them on a hand powered truck. Mainwaring starts to make his way over the top of the train to retrieve the brake wheel that Hodges is brandishing, and although Jones goes with Mainwaring, as usual Jones is a complete liability, and Mainwaring has to save him from falling off several times. Once they reach the back of the train, Hodges throws the wheel, and Mainwaring catches it, then starts to make his way back to the cab. Whilst he and Jones are on top of the train, Pike has the bright idea of putting the engine into reverse to stop it, and they are nearly thrown off. Once the train has stopped, it of course starts to return to the station, and the others on the little hand cart have to work hard to keep ahead of the train. The Station Master changes the points to put the cart and train into a siding, and they all tumble out just as the Royal Train is heard approaching. They have to parade just where they are by the line, which happens to be in front of a water trough, so when the train goes past they all get soaked.


* Outdoor scenes featuring the train were filmed at the North Norfolk Railway which runs between Sheringham and Holt in North Norfolk. The clip of the royal train used stock footage featuring a LNER Class A4 on a section of mainline near Glasgow. The locomotive used for the local train was Kitson 0-6-0 saddle tank "Colwyn", fomerly of Stewarts & Lloyds in Corby. The locomotive is currently (as of 2007) based at the Northampton & Lamport Railway and is under restoration by local company [ T&H Engineering] . The station scenes were filmed at Weybourne railway station.
* The platoon wrongly think the King has arrived on a shabby-looking train, which turns out to be a local stopping train. In fact, owing to security reasons, the royal family and leading politicians often travelled on nondescript trains to detract attention.


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