Category Archives: TV

Going Straight: On the Wrong Track

The pilot episode of “Going Straight” (sequel to “Porridge“) was the  show that started me off on finding errors in TV shows when it came to their depiction of railways and trains, and Stafford.

According to Wikipedia, the plot of this episode is: “Fletch, having been paroled, makes his way home from prison. On the train, he bumps into Mr Mackay and an old friend.”

This is going to be a brief one, as I have no intention of identifying the coaches used, just highlighting errors.

I apologise in advance for the blurry nature of these screen-grabs. Things weren’t exactly HD back in 1978.

07:48 That’s a Deltic!

Yes, the blurry yet unmistakeable front end of a BR Class 55 Deltic, undisputed Kings of the East Coast Main Line in the late ’70s. Here we have the slight problem that anyone travelling from the fictional Slade Prison in Cumbria to London would be on the West Coast Main Line, which at the time used different locos.

07:55 That carriage looks fake

Ok, so I said I wasn’t going to start carriage spotting. I lied. Anyway, those seats look like school chairs, and the camera position would be about a foot outside the the carriage. Otherwise it doesn’t look too bad. It is a bit short though, and the windows are too far apart.

(aside: “26p for a beer!” Tartan Bitter!)

12:52 “This is Stafford, this is Stafford”

Indeed it is! And it looks as grotty today as it did then. Thirty years, and the main change is that those signs have been replaced. Multi-million pound refurbishment my arse!

As far as I can make out, the loco is BR Class 86 86221 , but someone will point out my error if I’m wrong. Clearly not a Deltic though, and certainly WCML not ECML!

13:03 Running though the tunnel.

Hold your horses! A tunnel? At Stafford Station? Such a thing has never existed! The main reason for this is that the station lies too close to the flood level that about 10 minutes of rain will bring.  On a good day, the park (opposite the station) becomes a boating lake (important note: do not take an inflatable dinghy out on the flooded park – the police will get involved and it will not end well).

And the Manchester Evening News advert? Not ’round here mate.

13:48 This is what a real carriage looks like!

Filmed on filmstock, not the video tape used for the fake carriage above.

Fast forward to…

22:42 “Watford Junction”

First thing to notice is that the loco has changed. I *think* this is BR Class 86  86208, but that loco doesn’t seem to have gone into service until 1979 (same for 86221 above).

Anyway, the mismatched locos weren’t the point of this. The point is, Stafford Station doesn’t have a tunnel, didn’t have one in the ’70s, and TV producers still don’t pay enough attention to detail.

(See posts about Doctor Who and Railways for more guff).

Doctor Who: Trains on the Flatline

“Flatline”, S08E09, is an episode of the new Doctor Who which has bothered me for a while. I’m not on about the plot, which I quite like, but I always wanted to know where the railways scenes were filmed, and what the stock was.

I’m not going to dissect the whole episode, just the bits that refer to railways. So, obviously we’re going to be ignoring a hell of a lot of the episode.

03:00 – 04:06  and we already know where we are: Barry Island. Specifically,  on the former trackbed of the original Vale of Glamorgan line which would have run though Barry Island Tunnel. The building is the Plymouth Road Shed, just to the east of Barry Island Station.

Which, by the Magic of Television, has now moved to become part of  Bristol Sidings 344 (confirmed in the dialogue).

Note that Clara walks off in the direction of the tunnel. She’d get about 200 yards before hitting the fence. All civilisation lieth the other way…

06:16 – 0814 Same location (minus the TARDIS interiors). Nothing new to learn here.

20:15 – 25:11 And we’re in one of the Barry sheds (when we aren’t in the TARDIS). Note the presence of BR Class 08 Shunter 08503, one car of a DMU set (probably BR Class 101 DCTL 56356) and parts of a steam loco with a GW partly restored tender. There also seems to be a Road-Rail Vehicle and some more carriages in BR Yellow, but they’re not clear enough to identify.

And then they run into a storeroom, which allegedly leads to the tunnel (really, it doesn’t).

25:23 – 27:47 The tunnel. Note immediately the lack of tracks. Barry Tunnel is a shooting range.

To be fair, the do say that this is the “old tunnel” and set off to the junction with the “new tunnel”.  Good luck finding that one on Barry though.

A big hand snatches someone away, some running happens, and they need to open a door. But wait, suddenly they have track! As Barry does not have any track within a tunnel, we are clearly somewhere else now. Let us see how this unfolds.

27:47 – 29:42 Another tunnel. Cue running, and the TARDIS getting dropped a few floors. On to the running line. Specifically on to a Barrow Crossing over a running line.

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but the TARDIS shouldn’t actually be in danger at this point. The train should just pass over it.

29:42 – 29:44 Cue a CGI/SFX  representation what looks like a 3-car DMU (likely a Class 117)in BR Green with an A113 headcode thundering down the tunnel. BR Green. Headcode. In 2014? And A113? Well its not a valid code anyway, and is just an in-joke with animators.

30:08 – 30:21  And The Doctor is doing his best to actually get the TARDIS directly under a wheel.

30:35 – 30:47 TARDIS falls back on to the rail, and The Doctor pulls a lever. Yeah, maybe that should have been done earlier.

30:48 – 31:41 In the tunnel, and a train is coming. The same CGI’d one that is now 2M65.

32:01 – 32:25 Stationary in the tunnel. It looks to me like a BR Class 117.

32:32 A BR Logo

That Logo is the “Ferret and Dartboard” one used from 1956 to 1965.

32:37 Hang on… Red seat moquette? Cubic grab-handles? Modern arrow signage? Drop window slam doors? Wales? Could this be the Gatwick Express Mark 2F/Class 488 set again? Possibly, but the colours are wrong.

  32:39 (approx) Even working this frame-by-frame doesn’t help. Best I can get is W5???3 or something.

32:40 – 33:19 Back in the cab. Nothing helpful here really.

Scenes from 32:32 onwards doesn’t show any tunnel parts, so could well just be filmed in the dark at Barry.  Sadly Barry doesn’t have the right rolling stock, so we have to look elsewhere… maybe somewhere with a tunnel to film in that isn’t too far from Wales.

Step forward the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which conveniently has a Class 117 set (W51360, W59510, W51363) and Greet Tunnel. W51363 could be the blurry number above.

So far we’ve got:

  • BR Class 08 Shunter 08503
  • BR Class 101 DCTL 56356
  • BR Class 117 (W51360, W59510, W51363)
  • Unknown Mark 2F/3 Possibly from the Class 288 Gatwick Express set at Barry.

And with that, I think my work is done.