The Railway Children

A bit different to normal post as not a new film, but I watch The Railway Children feature film this morning for the first time in a long time and decided to write about it as it’s been done in all formats of entertainment; it’s been a feature film, TV Series, TV Film and play but was first a Book that was published in 1906 – by Edith Nesbit. 

The book tells the story of a family who move to The Three Chimneys in Yorkshire from London after the father is sent to Prison after being falsely accused of spying. His 3 children (Roberta/Bobbie, Phyllis and Peter) befriend an “Old Gentleman” who regularly takes the 9:15 through the town. The old Gentleman is also the focus point of helping free their father, helps tracks down the family of a Russian exile the family take care of and is the grandfather of Jim who the children help after he breaks his leg in the Railway Tunnel. The main part I remember is the 3 children stopping a train after a land slip had occurred so has a few stories going on. 

Adaptations – 

1970 Feature Film starred Jenny Agutter as Bobbie, Sally Thomsett as Phyllis, Gary Warren as Peter Waterbury, Dinah Sheridan as Mother, Bernard Cribbins as Perks and William Mervyn as Old Gentlemen. 

There has been been 3 TV Series made of the Railway Children all for BBC – 1951, 1957 and 1968, with the 1968 version the only one still in existence. Jenny Agutter also play Roberta in the 1968 TV series as well as the 1970 film and as Mother in the 2000 made for TV Film. 

In 2000 ITV released a TV Film of it (not sure I’ve seen this version) with Jenny Agutter as Mother as mentioned with Jemima Rooper playing Roberta, Clare Thomas as Phylis, Jack Blumenau as Peter, Gregor Fisher as Perks and Richard Attenborough as Old Gentleman. 

Stage Versions

There has been 2 versions of stage performances for what I can remember, the first in 2005 which I believe was a standard stage version whilst in 2008 a new version was stage at the National Railway Museum in York before moving to first Waterloo Station in London before a specially built theatre at Kings Cross that involved an actual Railway track and a steam engine. I watched the latest stage performance on Sky Arts and though not sure who played who but really enjoyed it and thought it worked really well. I had debated seeing this when in London but now it has finished wished I had so if it ever returns I will try and go and see it. 

There can’t be many books that have been made into as many TV series, Films and Stage performances and it has stood the test of time as is now 111 years old. 

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