When the Reverend Wilbert Awdry (the creator of the Railway Series and Thomas the Tank Engine) died in March of 1997, Britt Allcroft and the rest of the staff behind the television show adapted from the books were left in a state on confusion on how to continue the show for future seasons. One option was to continue to abide by a contract made by Awdry and Allcroft which stated that all episodes had to be adapted from stories that were in The Railway Series. The other option was that the writers for the show could be granted full freedom, and with that, the opportunity to write original episodes for the series.
Ideas were brought up to adapt stories based around the Culdee Fell railway for season 5, like what was done with the Narrow gauge railway back in season 4. For those who aren't familiar, the Culdee Fell railway is a rack railway that is located on a mountain. Two episodes were produced as potential season 5 premiers. One was an episode called "Bad Look-Out", which was adapted from the story of the same name from the 19th book of the Railway Series "Mountain Engines", though the intro of the episode was taken from the story "Mountain Engine". The other episode was "Cranky Bugs", which introduced a new character named Cranky, a crane who had a very "cranky" personality. In the end, it was decided by Allcroft that the series would now write original episodes, rather than adapt them from Awdry's books. The Bad Look-Out episode ended up being forgotten about and considered lost until some weeks ago.
For reasons that aren't fully known, one of the people working on the lost episode had a video file of the episode and uploaded a link to a MediaFire download of the episode on Twitter. The tweet was up for two weeks until the tweet was deleted for some unknown reason (my theory is that those at HIT entertainment somehow found out about the link or tweet and forced him to delete it). The tweet stated "Here's a little treat for a few of you guys." This information came from a friend who knew this person (who I will not name) who had seen the tweet, and shared me the MediaFire link. Due to the fact that Thomas was one of my favorite tv shows as a child, I immediately downloaded the episode and opened up the mp4 file.
One of the first things I noticed was that the quality of the footage looked like it had been ripped straight from a VHS tape, probably because the episode hadn't been properly restored to HD quality, due to its obscurity. Despite this, the intro played as it normally did. The narration was that of Michael Angelis (the UK dub narrator). The episode began at the engine shed where the narrow gauge trains lived at as the narrator spoke:
Narrator: "Sir Handel had had a bad day. The coaches had been "awkward". They made him slip to a standstill twice. He was furious."
Sir Handel: "Those cattle-trucks should be scrapped," he fumed.
Narrator: "Skarloey was shocked to hear what Sir Handel had said."
Skarloey: "I won't have it," he protested. "Those old coaches need kindness, not bad names."
Rheneas: "Exactly so," agreed Rheneas. (Rheneas is then shown winking at Skarloey.)
Narrator: "Duncan then arrived in the yard with and he was just as unhappy as Sir Handel was." (Duncan reversed into the shed right next to Sir Handel and started speaking to him.)
Duncan "I nearly came off the rails. Those coaches pushed me. The Fat Controller says they didn't. He says I kept a Bad Look-out."
Rheneas: "You two better be thankful that we're not a mountain railway."
Sir Handel: "A mountain railway! What's that?"
Rheneas: "A railway which climbs mountains, of course."
Sir Handel: "But it can't, its engines wheels would slip!"
Rheneas: "But it can, we've heard of one quite near here."
The two engines argued with "It can't" and "It can" until Donald puffed into the yard with a flatbed to the siding nearby. On the truck was a small engine with six small wheels and a stove-pipe chimney. His boiler was titled downwards, and his cylinders were "back to front."
Donald: "Wheest! Dinna wake the wee engine. It's tired he is. He's called Culdee, after the mountain his railway climbs."
Culdee woke to find the engines staring at him. He appeared rather confused.
Culdee: "Where am I?"
The engines responded that he was in Sodor and began asking him questions.
Skarloey: "Do you really climb mountains?"
Culdee: "I've done it for years."
Skarloey: "You must be clever. We couldn't. Our wheels would slip."
Culdee (laughing): "I'm not really clever, I was just drawn like that."
Skarloey: "Like what?"
Culdee: "With pinion wheels on my driving axels. They have teeth, you see, which fit into a rack rail. I can't slip, however steep the line is."
Rheneas: "That must help you going up; but if your line is so steep, aren't you frightened coming down?"
Culdee: "Why? We have good breaks."
Rheneas: "Coaches are sometimes silly and try to push us downhill. Some... hrm... engines find it hard to stop them."
Sir Handel is then shown blushing as he stares down at his buffers for about two seconds.
Culdee: "Our coaches are never silly like that. They know such tricks are dangerous. I've never had that sort of accident."
Rheneas: "As you were saying Culdee, you had two coaches on your trial trip. Do you ever take more?"
Culdee: "No; our line is so steep that we're only allowed one. We each have our own. Mine's called Catherine. I know her well. That's most important."
Sir Handel: "Why? They're only coaches?"
Culdee: "Ours are something more. You pull your coaches, and you can see ahead. We push ours up, so we can't see. Our coaches watch the line for us. The Guard watches too, of course, but Catherine's so clever that I know at once if anything is wrong."
Skarloey: "That must take a load off your mind."
Culdee: "But not off my buffers! Climbing's hard work, and needs a lot of steam. My Fireman and I have a tiring time. Coming down, it's different. My coach and I just roll. We need no steam for that."
Duncan: "You'd be lucky Culdee. The coaches don't like me, they push me around, and I nearly came off the rails today. The Fat Controller told me 'We've no money to mend you, and if it happens again I'll leave you at the back of the shed.' Why does he always pick on me? It's not fair..."
Skarloey and Rheneas are then shown smiling to each other, while saying nothing to Duncan.
Sir Handel: "I should like that. With your automatic brakes, it sounds like a Rest Cure."
Culdee: "That was just the mistake poor Godred made!"
The engines all asked "Who is Godred?".
Culdee: "Godred was our Number 1, and named after a king. Perhaps that went to his smokebox and made him conceited. He'd never keep a Good Look-out. He'd roll down the line looking anywhere but at the track. 'You'll have an accident', I told him."
Godred: "Pooh! I've got automatic brakes, haven't I? And my Driver's got his air brake. What more
do you want?"
Culdee: "'More sense from you,' I said. 'No engine can stop at once if he isn't ready to obey his Driver's controls.'"
Skarloey: "The first thing an engine learns."
Culdee: "Godred never learnt sense. His Driver and Fireman and the Manager all spoke to him. They even took him to pieces to see if anything was wrong; but he still went on in the same old day. One day I was going up, and waited at a station for Godred, coming down, to pass me. As I waited, so it happened. One moment he was on the track; the next, his Driver and Fireman jumped clear as he rolled over."
Godred was then shown rolling down a steep hill backwards as the season 5 runaway theme played in the
background for 16 seconds, panning on Godred for 12 seconds, when he disappeared off camera, and a crash sound effect was heard, with a dust effect in the background.
Culdee: "Luckily, no one was hurt. His coach stayed on the rails, and the Guard braked the coach to a stop. They brought Godred home next day."
Godred was shown inside a shed with the manager standing in front of him.
Manager: "'We've no money to mend you,' said our Manager, 'so you'll go to the back of the shed!"
The scene then cuts to a time-lapse of Godred being dismantled part by part as Culdee detailed Godred's fate.
Culdee: "As time went on, poor Godred got smaller and smaller till nothing was left."
Duncan: "Wha... what happened?"
Culdee: "It's not nice to talk about it."
Duncan: "But what happened? Why isn't it nice?"
Culdee: "Our drivers used Godred's parts to mend us."
The episode ends with Donald taking Culdee away as the narrator stated "Sir Handel and Duncan were unusually silent long after Culdee had gone home. Neither Skarloey nor Rheneas ever mentioned that Culdee had made the story up." It then cuts to the credits as in the end of every episode.
After finishing the episode, I got back in contact with the person I mentioned earlier and asked him what I should do with the episode. He told me to just keep stored in my download files and to not upload it to a site like YouTube, Dailymotion, or Vimeo due to the likelihood of HIT finding out the episode had been leaked and trying to take it down to copyright infringement, just like what happened to that Twitter user. He also told me that it was best not to mention the episode anywhere else online, just in case something bad happens. While I did see the episode itself as pretty dark due to the fact that Godred's functioning parts were used to mend other engines, the narrator himself stated that Culdee made the story up. How would children react to this? I don't really have an idea, as Godred's story itself was a fictional story within a children's show about fictional trains. It is after all just fiction in the end, am I right about that?