Toy Stories (2009) s01e05 Episode Script


(heavy bass guitar music)
- So you think computer
games are more exciting
than old-fashioned toys?
Maybe you should think again.
(exciting music)
(vocalized singing)
With the help of the great British public,
it's time to liberate them
from the toy cupboard,
supersize them, and unleash
their true potential.
(playful music)
This week, toy trains.
I go to Devon in search of navvies
to build the world's
longest model railway.
If you lot did the whole thing,
it would take you 1,600
hours to lay the whole thing.
There's the wrong kind of
rain, leaves on the line.
- Ah, derailment!
- Oh, no.
- As usual with you, I've ended the day
more knowledgeable than
I was at the start.
- And as usual with you,
I've ended the day wetter.
- Can I get this little train
to slug it out for 10 miles?
I wish to make it quite clear
at the beginning of this program
that I have never, ever
been a train spotter,
neither have I ever
been a railway modeler.
And yet, for some reason, I
absolutely love train sets.
I think it's because
the train set embodies
everything that I love about mechanics.
The locomotive is a superb
piece of miniature engineering.
It has to be maintained.
The track is an inexhaustible
geometric puzzle
and toy train operation can be as engaging
and as baffling as the real thing.
(jazz-funk music)
Hamburg, Germany's second city,
is home to Miniatur Wunderland,
the world's largest model railway.
I went to spy on it.
Guten Tag.
- Hi, James.
- You are Freddie or Gerrit?
- Freddie.
- Freddie.
- Gerrit.
- Hello, James.
- How do you do?
- Nice to meet you.
- Yeah, and you.
Let's have a look at your train set.
- Yes, we look forward.
Lemme show it to you.
- You wanna have a look?
- Brothers Freddie and Gerrit used to run
a successful and very profitable
nightclub and record label.
But, one day, they sold up
and spent everything they
had on a massive train set.
Amazingly, it's Hamburg's second
biggest tourist attraction.
Good God.
- Yeah, we have about
six meter high, the Alps.
- Those trains are actually
going round the mountain.
That crane's actually moving.
Is it getting darker?
- It's getting dark every 15 minutes
and the night took three minutes.
And you can see, now, here in Switzerland,
we have 40,000 lights going on.
You can see it now.
- [James] So everything single
car has lights, as well?
- [Gerrit] Yes.
- This is fantastic, I have to say.
It's much better than I expected.
Germany, inevitably, has a
model railway TV channel.
And you can probably guess who are
Ant (speaking in foreign language) Dec.
You are a celebrity railway modeler.
- Yes (laughs).
- That's fantastic.
That would only happen in
Germany, I'm afraid to say.
You wouldn't get that
anywhere else in the world.
- Yes, but it's because
of very much TV shows.
- Over there is a HO scale
live outdoor concert.
It's sold out.
There are 24,000 HO scale
people (laughs) in the concert.
They've all been individually
glued onto the grass.
It's very good.
I'm just amazed by whatever
was going on in your minds
when you built this little bit here.
With a broken-down Porsche 911,
the girl in the bikini trying to mend it,
and Harry Monk hiding
in the bushes watching.
- We love these scenes.
- Are there lots of them?
- Yes, very much.
- You didn't quite manage to shake off
your Hamburg nightclub
heritage there, did you?
- We are many people having many ideas,
and every idea will be realized.
(techno music)
- The place is enormous,
over 4,000 square meters.
It has its own miniature fire brigade
and 150 people are needed to operate it.
This is like running a
real railway, isn't it?
- We have 40 computers
controlling the whole layout
and five persons sitting
there and waiting for a crash,
and that's the moment that people like.
- I'm just wondering how
long one train could go
before it was likely to
derail or have an accident,
but it could be quite a long way.
- It's crazy, when you count the miles.
We count all the trains since they started
and they went 40 times around the world.
- Really?
- Yes.
- Freddie and Gerrit have pushed Germany
to the brink of model railway ectasy.
Maybe I can do the same
for the shy British.
I can't match the Germans for size,
but maybe I can beat them on length.
And here's my secret
weapon, the Flying Scotsman.
I've had it since 1972,
and it must have covered many, many miles,
and yet it's never actually been anywhere.
It's time for the train set to break free
of the circularity of the
attic and the baseboard.
I want the Flying Scotsman to make
a real epic train journey
through fantastic scenery.
So what I really need is something
like a disused railway line.
Well, thanks to Dr. Beeching, of course,
there are over 10,000 of them in Britain,
and one that has been
recommended to me is this one,
the so-called Tarka Trail,
which runs between Barnstaple here
and Bideford here, in Devon.
It used to be part of the
Atlantic Coast Express route.
Today, it is a mere cycle path.
But maybe not for long.
The Atlantic Coast Express service
once provided eight trains a day,
taking holidaymakers from London Waterloo
to the sunshine of South West England.
(train chugging)
But then the British
discovered the Costa del Sol,
the tourist trade died,
and the once-thriving
Barnstaple to Bideford line
disappeared completely.
(bouncy string music)
Small trains now terminate at Barnstaple,
but I want my Flying Scotsman to reopen
the route down to Bideford.
That's 10 miles, and
10 miles would give me
a toy train world record into the bargain.
I've invited an old mate to
help, train bore Oz Clarke.
He says life was better in the olden days.
He certainly was.
- Can I give you a hug?
- No.
- No, all right.
- It's this way.
- [Oz] Well, well, Barnstaple station.
- Good, isn't it?
I'd like a bicycle for this gentleman.
- Just one?
- And one for me.
- What do you mean bikes, James?
You didn't tell me we
were coming on bicycles.
I mean, I might be
completely unable to cope
with anything with two wheels.
I mean
- Have you?
- It's 10 miles to Bideford!
- What, have I what?
- It's flat.
It was a railway.
One in 60 is a steep
gradient for a railway.
- One in 37 is the gradient between
Exeter St David's and Exeter Central.
- And that's not very steep.
- That's very steep.
- [James] For a train, not for a bicycle.
- When I'm actually running in the gym
- [James] Choose a bicycle.
(Oz grunts)
- [Bicycle Renter] That better?
- All right, I'll have this thing.
- It's chucking, today.
- [Bicycle Renter] Would you like helmets?
- No, thanks.
- Okay.
- [James] Ready?
(playful music)
- Aw, James, this is your idea, not mine.
This is absolutely frightful.
The railway went there and
this is a fence, James.
- Well, I think we need
to be going up there.
This is quite interesting though,
'cause remember, my
railway is only this big.
What you were talking about, one in 37,
that curb stone is a
massive, massive obstruction.
- Yeah, but you can build it
with things like matchboxes,
and you could build it
up a one in 37 gradient
and then your train could
go underneath the fence.
- It could, it would
easily go under the fence.
But you're right, we'll
have to build that gradient.
But we'll have to start right back there.
- With matches.
- Well, no, we can use pieces
of wood and modern materials.
- I'd use matches.
It'd be much more gentle.
Matches and something like
sago or semolina to bind them together.
- Why don't I do the technical bits
and you do the history?
I think we need to go back,
because that fence goes all around.
We need to go right back
over to the station.
We've got to go out of the top somehow.
- Yeah, okay.
Why do you always get me out in England
when it's absolutely soaking?
- [James] I don't know.
- [Oz] Do you know what?
I can smell roast beef.
- [James] Pork.
- Pork?
- I think.
- Beef, I reckon.
I've got an absolute
nose for old railways.
I mean, if I'm going around the country,
I can smell an old railway
about five miles away
and this has suddenly got the
feeling of an old railway.
- Feels dead level, as well.
- Yeah, dead level.
- It's what you'd expect.
- Yeah.
(soft classical music)
I mean, it is lovely,
and railways so often
took a gorgeous route
through the countryside,
and you just sort of think,
if only someone could
have stopped them all
just being ripped out and ripped away,
we could find uses for
lots of them nowadays.
(train faintly whistling)
Ah, now this is important.
James, look here.
Now, you can see.
You can see we're on a railway track.
That's the gravel of the
track bed, like that.
- [James] That's known as the ballast.
- The ballast, yeah, and all the ballast
for the whole of the Southern region
comes from Meldon Quarry's.
And Meldon Quarry's is what?
I don't know, 10 miles south of here?
Just near Okehampton.
And the train still runs
up to Meldon Quarries,
picks up all this gravel,
and heads off to anywhere
in the South of England.
- Let's keep going.
That's all very sad.
(upbeat music)
(music drowns out speech)
- [Oz] What's it called?
- Fremington.
Today, this looks like a
nice place for an ice cream,
but, 40 years ago, Fremington Quay
was one of the busiest
ports in the South West,
exporting local clay until 1969.
All that remains now is
a preserved signal box
and a little cafe in the old station,
where I have an ice cream.
Wow, this is difficult with the ice cream.
This is excellent surface
for the toy train.
Look, it's been paved.
- Yeah.
- And there's some more
ballast to left and right
for you to get excited about.
- Yeah, and there's these little places
that you can hide in when
your train hurdles through.
Look, there they are, hidey holes.
- [James] When you're doing maintenance.
Look at that, that's a bit of actual
railway line in the road there.
- That is a real, real old-fashioned
level crossing gate.
It's absolutely brilliant.
- [James] It does mean my railway's
got to cross the road, though.
- [Oz] Oh, but look,
you got real rail track.
Okay, if you took the rail track up.
- No, we can't do that.
But what if we clean out the groove,
would the track actually
fit inside the rail?
- I think it might.
It would be all very well
unless a large car came along
precisely when your train is going to.
I mean, how many trains
are you going to run?
- Well, for the record, one.
- If it's the Atlantic Coast Express,
you need to run six.
- Yeah, I know we're not trying to
match the original timetable.
Just the journey.
- Also, by the way,
The Flying Scotsman never performed
on the Atlantic Coast Express.
- No, even I know that.
You'll have to be sharpish Oz
or you'll get killed.
- Oh, God (laughs)!
Are you trying to kill me or what?
(playful music)
- Although I mock Oz
for his slavish devotion
to an outdated railway philosophy,
I must admit that the
mystique of this place
is beginning to rub off on me.
Railways are magical,
and even a toy train
could rekindle the romance
of this great old route.
(train faintly chugging)
If it rains this badly on the toy train,
I think we might have
a problems, won't we?
- Well, won't the trains all short?
Won't all the electrics short
and the whole thing go up in smoke?
- No.
- Why not?
- Well, 'cause it's only very low voltage.
I think it'll be alright
if its just a bit damp.
But if it rains really heavily,
we could get all sorts of problems.
(thunder rumbling)
I'll tell you what,
it's not brightening up.
(playful music)
This is worth doing, isn't it?
- Yeah, it really is.
I mean, all today,
I've been hit by this fact of
this slightly wistful but powerful sense
of what's been lost here.
- Yes, exactly.
- Yeah.
- Well, I'm looking over
there at sleepy old Bideford
and thinking of sleepy Barnstaple,
both long resigned to
not having a railway,
and yet not realizing that in a few weeks,
they're gonna have one again.
- Yeah, it's gonna be a bit small
for what they really need.
- Yeah.
- I mean, about 1/176th of the size
that they'd prefer to have.
- You were listening, weren't you?
- Yes, I was (laughs).
- And so was I.
- Ah, good.
- And as usual with you,
I've ended the day more knowledgeable
than I was at the start.
- And as usual with you,
I've ended the day wetter.
(upbeat guitar music)
- The Tarka Trail is, frankly,
a gift to the aspiring
model railway engineer,
so the next step is to do some testing
with my project manager Paul
and his assistant Steven.
Right, let's go (laughs).
Well, what we've got to test,
'cause we haven't actually done this yet,
is how well it runs on this trail,
which feels fantastically flat and smooth
when you're on a bicycle,
but every obstacle and every bit of grit
and every dent is effectively
scaled up 76 times
for the locomotive and its carriages.
So I think we put a piece of track down,
we'll build a hundred meters or so,
and just run it and see if it works.
This is gonna take ages,
isn't it?
- Yeah (laughs).
- Do you think we can
reasonably employ the crew
in the absence of any capable people?
All right.
Production Crew, to work.
(rock music)
Fishplates go on.
The first obstacle to consider
when laying a miniature
railway on a popular cycle path
is the bicycle menace.
I may have to ask the council
to ban them on our big day.
The cycling lobby cannot possibly object
to railway building.
This is after all a railway.
They've just borrowed it.
Can you tell that urchin to
stop riding into the line.
- [Men] Oh!
- [Paul] He just missed it!
- What's he doing?
I like building railways.
We're testing a model of the
Atlantic Coast Express, or ACE,
the original steam train
that ran this route.
Because there's no electricity
in the countryside,
we have to power the track
with 12-volt car batteries.
Boring considerations of voltage drop
mean we need to work out
how far the train will go on one battery.
A typical train set is five meters long.
This one is 16,000.
In scale terms, it's almost
the length of Britain.
Are we ready?
- Yeah.
(train whistling)
- And we're off.
I'm gonna look at it
as it would've appeared
to a small boy sitting on a fence in 1938.
It is slowing down.
- Yeah.
- [Men] Stop!
- Well, it lasted.
- Congratulations.
I'd call that successful.
- Brilliant.
- How far do you reckon
we can reasonably go on
one battery then before
- Well, it's slow, but it didn't stop.
Perhaps 200 meters.
But then if there was a slight incline
at the end of the battery run,
then the train would come to
a standstill, wouldn't it?
- But if we put a
battery every 100 meters,
that's 160 batteries, isn't it?
The simple fact is this.
These precious little models
were never designed to be used outside,
and full-sized nature is
not kind to toy trains.
The inclines, slight though they are,
go on for hundreds of scale miles,
and something as harmless as a twig
is like a fallen tree to
our 76th-scale train driver.
That's looking a bit worrying.
- Oh, derailment.
- Oh, no.
- Ugh, disaster.
- It's still going though.
Right, so we do need a sweeper.
I'm only allowed to have the cycle path
for one day to complete my world record,
and it's going to need a
lot of care and attention.
Whoa! Whoa!
And for that, I'm going
to need a lot of people.
(ragtime music)
I take myself off to the North Devon Show,
where people still ride horses
or walk through six feet of mud.
They would be keen to help
build a railway, I reckon.
Good morning, people of Devon.
Now, we need volunteers to
drive the train, lay the track,
it's many thousands of
pieces of toy train track.
It's quite difficult to do.
It's never been done before on this scale.
I'm appealing to volunteers
in my special tent.
There's a massive
picture of me outside it,
which will cause you to confuse it
with one of the livestock enclosures.
If you could make you're
may over there and sign up.
I'm probably looking for
somewhere in the region of
350, 400 people simply to
plug the track together.
We have to do the whole thing in the day;
build the railway, complete the trip,
and dismantle it, again.
Thank you very much for listening.
See you later.
(audience applauding and cheering)
(upbeat jazz music)
That was one of my less
good inspirational speeches,
but no matter, the lure of
a new railway is enough.
I head over to the scout hut
to see if they'd like to earn
their railway building badges.
Okay, listen up.
This is the objective.
I need a team from you
to lay part of the track,
probably at least half a mile.
It's made out of these sections,
which are a meter long.
I've given them 10 meters of track
and I'm timing how long
it takes to lay it.
It's a fiddly job though
because the metal plates
that join the track,
known as fishplates,
have to be fitted first.
Can I check it?
- Yep.
- [James] Spot on.
This should give me an idea
of how many man/woman/Akela hours
the whole job will take.
There you go.
- Woo-hoo!
(audience applauding)
- You did about 10 meters.
It took you almost an hour.
(audience laughing)
We'll get some more people.
Right, take it to bits.
(audience laughing)
Well, there's something.
We've cycled the Tarka trail,
so we know what a long way it is.
It's 10 miles of flat stuff.
Well, I think we can safely say
we've got the work force.
What I am slightly worried
about though is the track,
because watching the scouts do it,
and they did do it very well,
but it took them an hour to lay 10 meters,
putting the fishplates on themselves.
That means it would take
them 1,600 hours, roughly,
to lay the whole trail.
So I'm gonna have a word
with the manufacturer
and see if I can get pre-fishplated rails.
How exciting is that?
That's not the only issue
with the people's railway.
We have to convince the local council
that North Devon isn't gong to be brought
to a standstill by all
this toy train tomfoolery.
Not easy; we have to cross
three major traffic routes.
(engines rumbling)
- Or we can use cones, tape?
- [James] But these people do not wear
those yellow jackets for nothing.
They come up with solutions.
- Shape it, bring it
down to the right level,
run it through the train line here,
and straight out the other end.
If we gun all this track out,
width-wise, it shouldn't
be a problem at all.
- Yeah, it won't be a problem.
- With the train,
the width, yeah.
- What we can do though,
is we can suspend traffic
along this section of road,
as long as Devon are okay with that.
- Yeah.
We can actually physically
stop the traffic both sides,
whilst people are laying the track
and also when the train
wants to come across.
So that's very important
that we need to do that.
- [James] Top marks to the council
for embracing our vision of a revived
Barnstaple to Bideford railway,
but there's a proviso.
The route is a public highway,
so everything must be put up
and cleared away within a day.
And that's going to be tough.
- Yeah, I'm feeling a lot less confident
now then when we met James last week.
- The testing went well
and the first time we went cycled along,
everything seemed okay,
it seemed nice and flat.
But now we've got down
to the nitty-gritty,
the actual logistics of it
are pretty daunting actually,
to get it all done in one day.
- Yeah, it's just epic.
(men laughing)
(funk music)
- But let's make it a bit harder still.
I suppose a train set ought
to have some buildings.
I never bothered with
them when I was a boy,
but now I suppose I should make an effort.
Now, so far, we've talked about
the joy of toy trains and of train sets.
But now we're going to enter
a very different world;
that of the deadly
serious railway modeler.
The sort of people for whom
train set is a bit of an insult.
This is the Pendon model railway museum.
Its staff have devoted the last 50 years
to reproducing 1930's England
in perfect detail in miniature.
(motor whirring)
So all of that is made
from scratch, is it?
- Indeed, yes.
- So there are no off-the-shelf models
or plastic kits or anything like that?
- Nothing at all, no.
All hand-built.
- [James] How long would
that bridge have taken?
- [Curator] Oh, years.
Two or three years I think at least.
- [James] You talk in very hushed
and reverential tones
in the railway museum.
Is that correct form?
- [Curator] (laughs) Sometimes
when we're looking at
our best models, yes.
- How would you feel about making
just a small bit for my train set?
And I know it is a train set and that is
unacceptable to you,
but on the journey of my toy train
down the world's longest train set
- How much detail do
you want built into it?
- Well, this sort of detail?
- Well, typically, even
some of our smaller models
is many months, years work.
When we're making models, we're building,
each brick will painted individually.
It's the only way that we can
get a proper representation.
- You could build a
real house in that time.
And it's time I don't have.
I need a more down-to-earth
approach from Yorkshire.
You must be Eric.
- Hi, good morning.
Yes, I'm Eric.
- Four years ago, after visiting
a model railway exhibition,
Eric decided to build
one in his front garden.
Strict historical accuracy is not his bag.
- [Eric] Have you been to see
many garden railways then, James?
- [James] I've actually never seen
a garden railway in my life.
- Right.
Quite different.
- Well, I was trying to think
how to be polite about it.
It's a bit mad.
But I like it.
- Good.
- I think I'd have loved
it when I was five.
I would've wet myself with excitement.
What do the neighbors think of it?
- Well, they really like it.
They like to see the buses
come in and pulling up.
- Buses?
- The bus from Whitby.
Shearings bring a bus load on
a Monday, tomorrow afternoon.
- To come and see you're garden railway?
- Yeah, yeah.
- So you're a tourist attraction?
- (laughs) Well.
- I'll tell you what I do like about it.
This is a train set, isn't it?
- Yeah.
- It's not a model railway really,
because you're not bothered
about the right era.
You've got American locomotives.
- All that stuff.
Yeah, and we've got the
English, the Flying Scotsman.
- [James] I was gonna say,
I think I saw the Flying Scotsman there.
- Aye, that's right.
- It's coming now,
everybody, out of the tunnel.
And you've also got gnomes.
- [Eric] That's right.
I've got a mixture of everything.
- [James] Do you make the buildings?
- I make all the buildings.
The most I ever spent is about a fiver.
I make 'em out of flower tires I cut open
and bits and pieces; I
never throw anything away.
I always find a job for it.
- Spoken like a true Yorkshireman there.
- [Eric] And that's the coal, as well.
Just broken to bits.
- Is it?
So do these take you two years?
- No, I can make one of them in a night.
- Can you?
- Oh, yeah.
- [James] One evening, you mean?
- [Eric] One evening, I
make it simple really.
Make two or three nights
for something like that,
for the bigger ones.
(train whistling)
- It's a nice noise, that.
(upbeat music)
Inspired by Eric's build-all,
pay-nought approach,
I come up with a solution using these
pop-out cardboard models.
Now, I need a school hall.
There you go.
And some locals.
I used to make these when I was a kid.
They're not particularly difficult,
but it is very easy to cock it up.
(boy laughs)
- The instructions aren't
really very easy to follow.
I keep doing it wrong.
(upbeat music)
- [James] Next, with a
few bob in my pocket,
I return to the scouts,
to see what sort of a job they
can do with odds and ends.
So that is a scout camp, presumably.
- Yeah.
- It's very surreal.
- [Scout] And it also has the
campfire in the center there.
- Oh, and that's a fire?
- Yep.
- Excellent.
- Camp fire.
- Well, we'll put that on its
own in the middle of nowhere,
'cause that's where a
scout camp is, isn't it?
(twangy music)
I'm going shopping for some reserves
to add to my Scotsman and the ACE.
And to stop Oz exploding,
I'll allow myself
to be influenced by
authenticity on this one.
At Maria and Lynne's
specialist model shop,
I'm looking for a diesel passenger train
that used to run the line in the '70s
and a clay goods train that would've gone
back and forth from Fremington Quay.
It was on the internet.
It was a diesel locomotive
and it had to Atlantic
Coast Express board thing.
- Right, well, that's
what we need to find.
We need to find a picture of
the Atlantic Coast Express.
- Yes.
- And just work it out from there.
- And it will be in black and white
and you won't be able to work out
what color the coaches are.
- Well, you can more or less, can't you?
You'll be able to see whether
it's two-tone coaches or not
and you can tell whether
it's a British rail mark one
or whether it's a Southern
rail standard corridor.
(group laughing)
Yeah, me too.
- Would you mind awfully
doing that for me?
- [Man In Green] No, I don't
mind awfully doing that.
No, that would be fine.
- I'll go and look at
something over there.
(quirky music)
I know when I'm beaten.
There's no point in trying
to add my puny knowledge
to the weight of expertise here.
Following my visit to the community center
for distressed model railway enthusiast,
I now also have a goods train
and a diesel passenger train
that would've run on the
Barnstaple to Bideford line.
Now, how about something
a bit more modern?
(techno music)
Now, Britain is the country
that invented the railways.
But if they are to survive here,
then we have to shake off
all this misty-eyed railway children,
waving handkerchiefs, sentimental rubbish,
and embrace the future
in the form of this,
the Hitachi High-Speed
Bullet train from Japan;
running by the time you watch this program
between London St. Pancras
and the South East.
And here behind my back,
I have Hornby's new model of it,
which is so new that this
is in fact the prototype.
It's not in the shops yet.
This is the only one in the world.
It's very, very valuable
and I've been lent it for 2 weeks
to run on my toy railway
to represent the future.
(futuristic techno music)
Now, please allow me to indulge myself.
This is what train travel should be like.
We're heading out of London to Ashford
at 140 miles an hour.
On the regular train,
this journey would take 90 minutes.
On this train, 30.
That's gotta be the
best view in the world.
- [Conductor] It's the
most enjoyable train,
drive, and experience we've got.
- Secretly, I've also asked
for the miniature Bullet train
to be tweaked to go like the clappers.
That'll put the divine wind up Oz's ACE.
Can I do that?
- [Conductor] Yeah, you
can have a go of it.
(horn blaring)
(James chuckles)
- And with that, my toy
loco shed is complete.
Three authentic models, one from my loft,
and the Bullet train.
(excited music)
It's the day before my world
record breaking attempt.
We've got 16,000 meters of track,
more than 80 brooms for sweeping the line,
over 100 batteries, and a
ton of sand for leveling.
It's a big job, this.
At Fremington Quay,
preparations are under way
to create something rather
special for our German friends,
who have agreed to come over
and look after the
hundreds of model buildings
that have been made.
And here it is, our version
of their Miniatur Wunderland,
which we are going to call,
by way of an homage Miniature Wonderland.
It's set on this grassy meadow
here in front of the Fremington Cafe.
The track will wind up
and down for .6 of a mile
between all the lovely cardboard buildings
that the local community
have built for us.
And by adding this section,
we also ensure that we
get the world record.
In fact, the only thing
I'm really worried about
on this project is that.
(thunder rumbling)
(determined music)
It's 5:00 a.m. on toy train D-day.
The weather is why people
go to Spain nowadays.
Project manager Paul and his team
are heading out with boxes of track,
ready for the volunteers
to lay in a few hours time.
But the rain is truly torrential.
And that's a huge problem.
The trains can withstand the odd shower.
But if the track gets submerged in water,
it will short the batteries
and we'll have no power.
But in a rather sunnier London,
someone's annoyingly chirpy.
- Now, today, we're leaving Waterloo
and we're gonna take the train
right the way down to Barnstaple
on the route of the old
Atlantic Coast Express.
This was the great holiday express;
the magnificent train to the beaches
that the Southern Railway used to run.
And this little beauty
is gonna be pulling the
Atlantic Coast Express
all the way to Bideford.
(cheerful music)
- [James] Amazingly, on the train,
Oz gets a whole table to himself.
- I'm going to enjoy my Atlantic
Coast Express train ride.
Weather's nice.
- I've just spoken to Oz,
who says he's gonna be here at 12:37,
not 2:30 as I thought.
I think I must've been looking
at the 1950's timetable.
Anyway, get on with it.
(upbeat polka music)
The rain has already
delayed our track laying,
but the British people have
remained true to their tradition
of going out in extreme weather
inappropriately attired.
Hundreds have turned up and
they need to get a move on.
We've 10 miles of track to lay
before Oz arrives with his ACE
in just over three hours' time.
From my base in Barnstaple,
it's time to address the
workforce gathered along the line.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's brightening up.
- Yay!
- No, it's not!
- It is.
- No, it's not.
- Now, you've come here today
to break the world record
for the longest OO-gauge
railway in history.
- Yay!
- Exactly.
You're also here to consummate the vision
of many frustrated older local people
who wish to see Barnstaple and
Bideford re-united by rail.
- [Crowd] Yay!
- [James] And thanks to
your efforts, it shall be!
I haven't told them that it's
a bit smaller than normal.
Any questions?
- No.
- Good, I'm going inside.
Carry on.
(crowd laughs)
(upbeat music)
- Let's go build some railways, then.
- [Child] Yahoo!
- Please head up the trail this way.
- You know where you're going.
Follow your team leaders.
- [Soldier] Left, right, left, right.
- We have a very efficient team here,
all with their kneeling mats
'cause they don't wanna
get their knees wet.
- Aye, do you wanna start
down there then, James?
We're not having you just walk in.
You're gonna lay some track, aren't you?
- Yeah.
- All right.
Down there, then (laughs).
- Aye, down here.
- Down there.
- Down here.
It's great being British.
Rain is nothing that a carrier bag
on your head won't solve.
But it is hampering our efforts.
- It's really fiddly
'cause when it's down here,
you've got to put them together
and it's really hard to do
'cause the rain's making
it really slippery so.
- [James] Our track layers have been
very carefully selected.
- [Female Soldier] So
I've hand picked you,
and actually we're all clueless.
- Yeah.
- Good, good start.
Good start, James May.
We're going to be a winner, aren't we?
- This bit has gone down all
the way from the station,
up and down the car park,
and over to the trail in
not much more that 45
minutes, which is fantastic.
If everybody's working this
quickly all the way down,
then the train will be home in
I was going to say and
home and dry (laughs).
- Ah, just gonna see
how James is getting on.
May, are you there?
- Oz.
- Excellent.
I'm on my train in first
class in the dining car.
- Oh, how very nice.
- Thoroughly enjoying myself.
Having a sort of late breakfast.
- You're an hour away, yes?
- About an hour away.
Yeah, we're just at
Crediton at the moment.
Now, if we go to Yeoford Junction
and take the left branch
at Yeoford Junction
on the Okehampton Line,
we'd get to Meldon Quarry's,
which is where all the
gravel and the ballast
for the whole of the Southern region
come from Meldon Quarry's.
- Oz, Oz, are you there?
Ah, he must've gone in a tunnel.
Even though there isn't one.
Right, bicycles.
It's already midday,
but the clouds are beginning to pass
and the new line is snaking
its way out of Barnstaple.
This is all beautiful.
Leaves on line.
This is excellent.
But there are still huge gaps to be laid
right the way up to Bideford.
- We've still got another maybe
sort of 20 or 30 meters to go.
Just keeping me fingers crossed
that we've got it straight enough
and flat enough for this
train to get over this bridge.
'Cause Mayor of Bideford,
if it goes wrong,
I'm leaving (laughs).
- [James] The dirt and leaves washed up
by the storm have me very worried,
but we can only keep calm and carry on.
In half an hour, Oz the fathead
controller will be here,
and the trains must be ready to depart.
(cheerful music)
As the excitable walking timetable arrives
with his prized model of the ACE,
the sun finally and ironically comes out.
His train joins mine on
the miniature station.
- Didn't I tell you I
would bring the train
and the sunshine with me?
- You've done very well.
- Yeah.
- You've got what looks
like a fairly decent
London and South Western
Region station house.
Well done.
- Thank you.
- Very good.
- That's good.
(cheerful music)
That's good.
- [Oz] You look strangely
proud of all this.
- I do, well, I am quite pleased with it.
It's something I've dreamt
about since I was a small boy.
I hope it works.
- Already (laughs).
- [James] Bloody Nora.
Just leave it.
No, just don't touch.
- [Oz] I don't think
that ones on properly.
- It is.
- One of its wheels
is bigger than the other ones.
- [James] No, it isn't; just don't.
- Why don't you listen
when I tell you things?
What's gonna happen when
you go around a corner?
- Nothing if you're not there.
We're ready for the off.
For the first time in over 40 years,
the Atlantic Coast Express
line is reborn in miniature.
- [Crowd] Five, four, three, two, one.
(whistle blowing)
(triumphant music)
(crowd cheering)
- Long live the Flying Scotsman!
(powerful music)
- It's the wrong train.
- Oh!
- Oh, it stopped.
Oh, good.
Serve him right.
This cannot possibly have happened.
- Poor little thing.
It's the wrong engine.
- Oh, do come on.
It doesn't work.
This is a disaster.
(motor whirring)
Seems okay.
- Yeah.
- But it's not my Scotsman
that's the problem.
It's a lot simpler than that.
- That's on the wrong side,
so that's the problem.
- The batteries are all ran the wrong way.
Someone didn't look at the wiring diagram,
and will have to be executed.
This is not a good start.
Let's hope it's not like
this all the way up the line
because we're already several
hours behind schedule.
- [Crowd] Three, two, one, go!
- [James] Nothing.
Oh, God!
Hang on, what would a small boy do?
That's it.
(inspirational music)
(crowd cheering and applauding)
(triumphant music)
That's more like it.
- Whoa!
- Yay!
- That's better, more power.
- Come on.
- Will power (laughs).
- Come on.
- [Crowd] Awe!
- [James] More!
It sounds like the engine's faltering
'cause the wheels cacked up already.
That's a shame, it didn't get very far.
- Is it the loco, then?
- Think it must be.
- That's a tragedy and it demands
that I make a hard decision;
quite possibly the hardest of my life.
Right, no, we're sending it.
Send the ACE!
I'm absolutely gutted.
But there's no room for
sentimentality on the railways.
- Gently away, off ya go (laughs).
Hey, there's my boy, lovely.
- Give me the beans.
- [Oz] Faster and faster picking up speed,
heading for the bridge.
- Just crack it open.
That's better.
- Yay!
- James.
- Woo, woo, woo, woo!
- Woo-hoo!
- Oh, alright.
It's slightly better, I'll grant you that.
But it's not that good.
- I think it passed where James' stopped.
- Anything on the line?
- Yay!
- [James] Right, the record
is still up for grabs.
The ACE is away, steaming
out of Barnstaple station,
across the magnificent bus route bridge,
and off into open country.
(triumphant music)
Time for driver Clarke to
send the first reserve,
the Diesel Warship class.
- Oh-ho, yes!
The one thing I would say about this
is you got a couple of nice
old Southern region coaches.
It looks rather grand that Warship.
(sentimental music)
- [James] Next, it's the goods train.
- [Oz] And off we go.
- [James] And a mere five hours
behind our original timetable,
the Bullet train is our final departure
- Oh, god!
(upbeat techno music)
That is shameful.
That's disgraceful!
The train is going
about 100 miles an hour.
Go on, get caught in the mud.
- Three miles up the line at Fremington,
the track is almost laid,
but we still have to build
a whole Miniature Wonderland
in time for the first train's arrival.
(cheerful music)
But look who's here!
Freddie and his little brother Sebastian
have flown all the way from
Hamburg to rally the troops.
With Fremington safe
under Teutonic leadership,
we can relax.
- Hello.
Are there any people which can help us?
- We want to build up a small village.
- If there is somebody who has 20 minutes.
- Beautiful.
Maybe you can help us.
- Come to and we explain what to do.
- [Sebastian] That looks
to me pretty interesting,
what is that (laughs)?
Do you have any idea?
- It's an island.
- It's a island with a garden at the top.
Yeah, a nice idea.
- Yes, but he has
no clothes on.
- He has no clothes.
A nude gardener.
Yeah, nice.
Let's go to search for Kid's Land.
Is there anything you've
missed in the city?
- Yeah, yeah, a hairdressers.
- A hairdresser, okay.
- [Girl] We do need some people.
- Yeah, we don't have people.
People are just existing in our mind.
This is just a kid's utopia,
something like the future,
like a shopping castle
with a church on top.
Pretty interesting ideas.
This is also some kids
area where some tornado
just goes through where it's
very windy and you can
- Here's a small village,
very higher rent,
because here's a perfect
place for train spotters.
- While the crowds wait
expectantly at Fremington,
further behind, the slow old goods train
is being caught by a
rather sprightly Bullet,
which needs to overtake.
Luckily, we've planned ahead.
I'm not suggesting for a moment
this has turned into a race,
but I think the Bullet train
may overtake everything.
Right, you ready with closing the points?
And close.
- Here comes the Bullet train.
- [James] At a cracking speed.
(upbeat techno music)
(crowd cheering and applauding)
But somewhere up ahead,
a 00-scale woman has been
tied to the line by bandits.
That's not true, but a large
section has been broken.
Anybody got a spare piece?
We need it very quickly, anybody?
- [Child] Oh, dear.
- Spare piece!
- We need a spare piece!
- Two sections.
- Two!
- Hey, work fast though!
- [Man] Hang on, we need
some spare track here.
- Spare track, two pieces.
(crowd anxiously chattering)
Oh, much better thank you.
- You got a new fresh bit?
- Yeah, needs a plate.
Needs a plate.
(man laughs)
(crowd chattering)
We've had to stack up
the ACE and the Warship,
which is close behind,
but we've got to get this
fixed before the Bullet train
has a massive rear-end
collision with the pair of them.
Right, here we go.
(excited music)
They're back on track,
but now all three trains are
incredibly close together.
Crash coming up.
A discreet boot gets the ACE
out of the way of progress.
Where's reverse?
(crowd laughing)
And the Warship just makes
it into a passing loop.
Bullet train's in the lead.
It's a clear run all the way to Bideford.
Right, onwards.
Up the line at Fremington Quay,
there's a huge crowd
waiting for the trains,
even though it's nearly 6:00 p.m.
and we're over five hours late.
- [Child] Come on, we're nearly there.
- Train's coming.
- I can see it!
- But it's not the Atlantic Coast Express.
- [Oz] Oh, I know!
- And neither is it the Bullet train.
- Oh, what is it then?
- [James] It's the Diesel.
- [Oz] The Great Western Region Diesel.
- It's the Warship with the coaches
because the Bullet train is undergoing
vital chassis maintenance.
- I knew it.
- I knew it, as well.
- [Oz] These modern trains
can't last the pace.
- The wheels underneath
are absolutely black.
- [Child] That is (speaking
in foreign language) good.
(crowd cheering)
(triumphant music)
- That's wonderful.
This plucky little train has been going
mile after mile through
the open countryside.
(laughs) It is actually
really quite moving,
quite emotional.
(crowd applauding)
- That's it there; one, two, three!
- [James] Oz's ACE has
made it to Fremington
in second place.
- Fantastic.
Ah, all the way from Barnstaple.
- Bringing up the rear
is the freshly serviced
Bullet and the goods train.
(child giggling)
Thank you for organizing
Miniature Wonderland.
British building, German organization;
it could've been worse,
it could've been the other way around.
- It could be a model for the future.
It was working pretty good, though.
- I think it was.
- We had very much help
with very friendly childs around here.
They helped us very, very good.
- Yes, oh, those have been
made by young children
who haven't been paid or given
shoes or food or anything.
(crowd laughing)
You notice the sun?
I mean, it's still reasonably
high at the moment,
but we have been going
now for six, seven hours
and we're only really a third of the way.
So you know how your layout
goes into darkness every 15 minutes?
Ours is gonna do that for real
long before we get to the end.
If I'm honest, I'm very worried.
We may be celebrating here,
but it's 6:30 p.m. and seven
more miles to Bideford,
where, despite entertaining themselves,
they've started to give up hope.
(bagpipe music)
- Welp, the sun's getting down,
it's about a hair past a freckle,
train's not here yet,
they tell me it's coming,
but I'm off down the pub.
Thank you.
(intense music)
- [James] And even I'm
starting to lose faith.
- [Child] Get a picture.
- The dirt washed up by
the storm is playing havoc,
the trains need constant maintenance,
and because some urchins have
nicked half the batteries,
they're going really slowly.
If I look somewhat irritated,
frankly, it's because I am.
I've turned back into
my eight-year-old self.
I'm being called for my tea,
but I just want my train set to work.
But with the light beginning to fade,
I'm amazed at how many
people are still here,
still determined to get these
trains to their destination.
We've left the goods train
back in its rightful siding in Fremington,
leaving the three remaining trains
to battle it out to Bideford.
(soft music)
It's now gone nine o'clock
and the night is drawing in.
(crowd softly chattering)
The Bullet train has
been damaged in a crash,
the power is dropping off,
and it won't make it without a boost.
Our resourceful electricians
invent a device to supply power
directly to the track
from a mobile battery.
It was just a quick spurt
of inspiration after food
- We thought we'd try that
and it seems to be working.
- It's 11:00 p.m.
Five miles in at Yelland Road Crossing,
the grooves cleared between the
tracks are working perfectly
as the struggling Bullet passes through
(crowd cheering)
with the Warship close behind.
(crowd applauding)
But where is Oz's ACE?
- I've just heard a rumor that
my train may have burnt out.
I'm gazing into the middle
distance desperately,
willing it, willing it to come on home.
- Oz, I've got some very bad news for you
from these men who are the drivers
of your Atlantic Coast Express.
- Unfortunately, we're about 100 meters
from where we are now
and the little gal has burnt out on us
and we've tried everything to get it going
and she's actually given
up the go and burnt out.
- How do you know its burnt out?
- [Driver] Smoking like mad (laughs).
- Well, of course, it's smoking.
It's a steam train you fat head.
(crowd laughing)
- [Driver] Yeah, the wrong
kind of smoke though.
- Oz, I'm sorry actually.
I don't want to
That is tragic.
- You're not gloating, are you?
- No, I'm not gloating at all.
I think that's very sad.
I really wanted that to make it.
- After all that gutsy effort,
all the way from Barnstaple.
- But, you see the steam engine,
it's just a thing of the past.
Well, it is come on.
(crowd laughing)
- [Man] We did try.
- Never mind, that's
probably still a record
in itself, actually.
Give him a clap.
- Yay!
(audience applauding)
- I've never seen a man spend more time
on his knees to this effect.
- [Driver] We were
praying at the same time.
- Sorry, Oz.
It's down to the Bullet
train and the Warship Diesel.
- I am distressed.
- Bad luck, I have work to do.
- What?
- [James] I've got to
chase the Bullet, man.
It's still going.
- It's dark.
He doesn't know where it is.
(crowd laughing)
It's miles away.
- He's got a long walk.
- That's the wrong way.
- Yeah.
(crowd laughs)
(soft guitar music)
- [James] It's past midnight.
The exhausted Bullet train now
has two stones strapped to it
in an attempt to maintain
traction from its weary wheels,
and is wheezing towards Instow;
where, incredibly, a big
crowd waits in anticipation.
(whistle blaring)
As we open the level crossing,
I've had word that the Warship has died
somewhere in the dark.
So it's all down to the
plucky Bullet train now.
(crowd cheering and applauding)
If it can make it through
this last obstacle,
we've only three miles to Bideford.
- [Crowd] Oh!
- It may now have a craft
knife strapped to it, as well,
but the Bullet's giving its all!
What a welcome!
(crowd applauding)
(soft music)
But just as we reach the other side,
the train conks out.
And this time, it's for good.
Well, it looked good.
Should've been the Flying Scotsman.
That would've done it.
Now, I'll be honest,
I am bitterly disappointed that
we haven't got to Bideford,
because that would've been
a magnificent achievement.
But if we're gonna be positive about it,
we've got as far as
Instow from Barnstaple.
That's about seven miles.
And the thing is, my
37-year-old Flying Scotsman,
despite my efforts, that
failed on the first bend.
The Bullet train was
a brand new toy train.
I mean, it was a prototype toy train.
It got all the way here,
but that's over seven miles,
and a whole childhood's
worth of toy train adventures
passed under its wheels in that time.
It's got here.
It's worn out.
But that's noble.
Look where it came from.
Not the other side of a board,
not the other end of an attic.
It came from Barnstaple.
A toy train.
(inspirational music)
Perhaps, then, the final
victory goes to the man
who closed the line in the
first place, Dr. Beeching.
Or does it?
For one brief and glorious
day, the railway returned,
and hundreds of devoted
people stayed up all night
for the simple pleasure
of seeing a train go past.
And that makes me very happy.
(upbeat music)
(vocalized singing)
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