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The Railway Children Return — release date, cast, trailer, first looks, and all about the new movie sequel with Jenny Agutter and Sheridan Smith

Jenny Agutter and Sheridan Smith as mother and daughter in The Railway Children Return.
Jenny Agutter and Sheridan Smith as mother and daughter in The Railway Children Return. (Image credit: Studiocanal)

The Railway Children Return  — a sequel to the famous 1970 film — is coming to cinemas in April 2022 which is majorly exciting for any child of the 1970s like me. I was taken to the cinema to see The Railway Children around 1974 — yes I was six years old so a cinema outing in those days was a treat well remembered. 

Back then it was a double bill feature with another 1970s classic Swallows & Amazons, also favourite of mine from the era. The fact it was my late dad who took me along to see both films makes it all the more poignant and emotional whenever I watch The Railway Children now on television, generally at Christmas or Easter, as the story is essentially about Edwardian kids losing their father (to prison, wrongly accused of spying). The final station scene in The Railway Children is, in my opinion, the greatest tearjerker of all time! 

The fact that one of those 1970s’ Railway Children kids, Jenny Agutter — who made that tearful last scene happen with such poignancy — is reprising her role of Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Waterbury only adds to my excitement. Jenny has now reached almost National Treasure status playing Sister Julienne in BBC1's drama hit Call The Midwife, but I'll always remember her best as Bobbie waving her red bloomers frantically, along with her brother Peter and sister Phyllis, trying to stop an oncoming train from crashing into a landslide. Yes it was all-action and thoroughly dramatic!  

As my excitement grows from seeing this sequel's first look picture (see above) here’s a rundown of everything we know so far about The Railway Children Return...

Official poster for The Railway Children Return.

Official poster for The Railway Children Return. (Image credit: Studiocanal)

The Railway Children Return release date…

The Railway Children Return will be released in the UK on July 15 2022, having initially been expected on April 1 but then pushed back. We have no doubt there'll be a worldwide release date, including in the US, in due course. After we see the movie in its full glory on the big screen it will probably head to a big streaming service some time soon, possibly Prime Video or Netflix, so we'll update then! We can also see this as a big Christmas movie on the BBC within the decade!

The Railway Children stars Bernard Cribbins with Jenny Agutter (on right), Gary Warren and Sally Thomsett.

The Railway Children was a 1970 film starring Bernard Cribbins with Jenny Agutter (on right), Gary Warren and Sally Thomsett. (Image credit: EMI Films)

Is there a trailer for The Railway Children Return?

An official trailer for The Railway Children Return has been released by Studiocanal. Jenny Agutter's now older Bobbie Waterbury is seen telling the children: "I was brought here from London as a little girl. So I know where you must be feeling!" Take a look below....

The Railway Children Return plot

Directed by Morgan Matthew, The Railway Children Return will feature a new generation of children who are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War in 1944. As life in Britain’s cities becomes increasingly perilous, three evacuee children, the Watts – Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) – are sent by their mother from Salford to the Yorkshire village of Oakworth.

 There to meet them on the train station platform are Bobbie Waterbury (Jenny Agutter, reprising her iconic role in the original film), her daughter, Annie (Sheridan Smith), and grandson Thomas (Austin Haynes), and with their help the evacuees are soon settling into their new life in the countryside. Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Waterbury who has lived in the Yorkshire area since Edwardian times when her adventures as a teenager featured in The Railway Children book and film.

When the children discover injured American soldier Abe (KJ Aikens) hiding out in the railyard at Oakworth Station, they are thrust into a dangerous quest to assist their new friend who, like them, is a long way from home...

The script of The Railway Children Return is by Danny Brocklehurst, whose TV credits include Shameless, Brassic and Clocking Off.

Jenny Agutter and Sheridan Smith in The Railway Children Return.

The Railway Children Return first Look! Jenny Agutter as Bobbie Waterbury (far right) and Sheridan Smith (third from left, in hat) as Bobbie's daughter Annie. (Image credit: StudioCanal)

The Railway Children Return cast…

Of course leading the way on The Railway Children Return is the ever brilliant Jenny Agutter back as Roberta Waterbury, aka Bobbie. Jenny’s now 68 so wartime Bobbie is around five decades older too. Sheridan Smith (Four Lives, The Teacher, No Return) will play Bobbie's daughter Annie and Sir Tom Courtenay (The North Water) appears.

Other cast include child actor Austin Haynes playing Bobbie's grandson Thomas, while 'Teacher' is played by Joanne James, Elliott Benn is 'Policeman' and Thomas J Powell is a military policeman. Beau Gadsdon plays Lily, Eden Hamilton is Pattie and Zac Cudby is Ted. KJ Aikens plays American soldier Abe, while Oscar Wallwork, Thomas Flynn and Gabriel Freilich also star.

Maybe there'll be some cameos by actors from the original film (we can but hope!). We'd love to see Bernard Cribbins appear, although his character Perks was substantially older than the kids in the original film and this new movie is set around 40 years later. Perhaps there might be a 'son of Perks'. 

Jenny Agutter in Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife's Jenny Agutter (above) has started filming 'The Railway Children Return', and is playing Roberta Waterbury once again, although the character is many years older during World War Two. (Image credit: BBC and Nealstreet Productions)

Sir Tom Courtenay as Baxter in The North Water.

Sir Tom Courtenay as Baxter in The North Water. (Image credit: BBC)

Sheridan Smith as Sarah Sak in 'Four Lives'.

Yorkshire-born Sheridan Smith, here as Hull mum Sarah Sak in 'Four Lives', is perfect casting in The Railway Children Return. (Image credit: BBC)

Jenny Agutter on starring in The Railway Children Return

Jenny Agutter is delighted to be back palying Bobbie Waterbury. The Call The Midwife actor says: "I was approached for the sequel of The Railway Children two years ago, but they couldn't make it happen pre-Covid. what fascinated me was that it's two stories that they are paying tribute too. One is author Edith Nesbit's story and the other is Lionel Jeffries' film. It's taken it to a whole new era because it's during the war and it's these wonderful children being evacuated. My character Roberta has grown up and has a daughter, played by Sheridan Smith, and a grandson.

"It’s a lovely opportunity, being asked to do it, and the reason I thought it was really rather exciting is because it is 50 years since I did the film. It’s a wonderful way of looking at that story again, of paying tribute to Lionel’s film (director Lionel Jeffries), and Edith's Nesbit’s lovely story, which has been in print since 1905. I thought it was such a lovely idea and I love the idea of returning to it… and I think that Nesbit would have really liked the idea of that continuity."

Jenny enjoyed revisiting the original set of Three Chimneys house and Oakworth Station in West Yorkshire. “Filming meant going back to the station and standing there and just enjoying that sense of time having gone by, but also the sense that time almost doesn’t go by because it certainly stands still on that station. Looking at it, it looked the same and it felt the same. I met one of the drivers who had driven one of the trains in the Lionel Jeffries film. It was lovely. He seemed as youthful as he had done when we were there before but he now had a 41-year-old daughter who was now one of the engine drivers on that line. She wasn’t even born when we did the film.

"The Railway Children has been such a big part of my life. In a way, Call The Midwife is the closest thing to it because I get people talking about the film as a child or showing it to their children now. And with Call The Midwife I get people saying 'Oh my aunt was a midwife' or talking about things that have happened on the drama that reflect their real lives. I love that."

Jenny Agutter as Bobbie Waterbury behind the scenes on 'The Railway Children' with director Lionel Jeffries and other cast.

Jenny Agutter as Bobbie Waterbury behind the scenes on The Railway Children in 1970 with director Lionel Jeffries and other cast. (Image credit: Getty)

Jenny Agutter in Call the Midwife.

Jenny Agutter has been playing Sister Julienne since Call The Midwife started in 2012. (Image credit: (C) Nealstreet Productions)

The Railway Children Return locations…

What is so exciting about The Railway Children Return is how most of the original locations for the 1970 movie are being used, particularly along the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, plus Oakworth Station in Haworth, West Yorkshire, and the nearby Bronte Parsonage which doubled as the local doctor's house...

Remembering the 1970 movie The Railway Children…

Where do we start with the amazing 1970 movie The Railway Children, a real passion project for its director Lionel Jeffries (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). The music and enchanting theme from The Railway Children were by Johnny Douglas (see trailer clip above to listen to and watch the highlights).

The film, like the book, follows three children Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis who, along with their mother, move to a Yorkshire country cottage called 'The Three Chimneys' after their father is wrongly jailed for spying and the family is forced to downsize from their expensive London house due to their lack of money. Alongside Jenny Agutter as Bobbie, there’s Sally Thomsett (Man About the House) and Gary Warren (Catweazle) as younger brother and sister Phyllis and Peter, while established screen star Dinah Sheridan (Genevieve) played their caring mother who home-schooled the three, sold stories to papers to earn money so they didn’t starve (although she mainly bought iced buns for tea!) and generally did good throughout the story! Bernard Cribbins played Perks the station master who the children befriended after he mended Peter’s broken toy steam engine. 

Among the children's many adventures were helping a mysterious Russian gentleman who’d had a breakdown, stopping a train crash when they spotted a landslide (see the scene below), and saving a schoolboy with a broken leg who got trapped in a railway tunnel. Of course (spoilers!) Bobbie had a tearfully happy reunion with her father at the station on his release from prison, helped by the "kindly old gentleman" who’d wave at them from his train and who turned out to be the grandfather of the schoolboy with the broken leg they’d nursed back to fitness. It was a feelgood story to remember with lots of bumps and diversions along the way!

You can watch the 1970 movie The Railway Children through our link above.

The Railway Children flag down a train after a landslide.

The Railway Children flag down a train after a landslide. (Image credit: EMI Films)

The Railway Children in 1970 - Bobbie, Phyliis and Peter.

The Railway Children in 1970 — Bobbie, Phyllis and Peter. (Image credit: EMI Films)

The television productions of 'The Railway Children'...

Jenny Agutter's first time as Bobbie in BBC1's 1968 adaptation of The Railway Children.

Jenny Agutter's first time as Bobbie in BBC1's 1968 adaptation of The Railway Children.  (Image credit: BBC)

Jenny Agutter had played eldest child Bobbie in a 1968 TV adaptation of The Railway Children on the BBC. This had also starred Gillian Bailey (The Double Deckers), Anne Castle and Neil McDermott. Jenny Agutter also went on to play the mother character in The Railway Children for the 2000 version of the story on ITV which features Michael Kitchen (Foyles War) as the father, Gregor Fisher as Perks, plus Jemima Rooper, Jack Blumeneau and Clare Thomas, and Sir Richard Attenborough as the "kindly old gentleman". Going further back to the 1950s, Tenko star Jean Andersen played the mother in two black and white BBC versions of the story in 1951 and 1957.

Here's how to watch the 1957 and 1968 TV Versions of The Railway Children on the links below...

The Railway Children author Edith Nesbit…

The Railway Children author Edith Nesbit.

The Railway Children author Edith Nesbit. (Image credit: Alamy)

The Railway Children was a popular story written by 'E Nesbit', aka Edith Nesbit. It was first serialized in The London Magazine in 1905 before the book was published in 1906. Edith wrote over 60 children's books, including The Five Children and It, The Phoenix & The Carpet and The Story of The Treasure Seekers. The Railway Children is a fantastic read — yes I only just got round to it during the pandemic, and was surprised to find quite a few more adventures for the kids that were left out of the film, including a dramatic fire aboard a canal boat! Perhaps the movie budget in 1970 didn't stretch to destroying a boat!

Edith Nesbit was a political activist, actively supporting the Labour Party, and she co-founded the Fabian Society with her journalist/author husband Hubert Bland. Edith died in 1924 aged 65 but her books were a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including PL Travers (Mary Poppins), JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame and CS Lewis who wrote the Narnia books.

Nicholas Cannon
Nicholas Cannon

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.