‘The Railway Children’ Receives Its First Ever Complaint

The Railway Children (don't try this at... well not HOME, obviously)

The Railway Children (don’t try this at… well not HOME, obviously)

They say you can’t please everyone, but some things come pretty damn close. Like The Railway Children, an enduring classic of British cinema that is almost impossible not to love.

It has everything, posh kids, commoners, Bernard Cribbins, Jenny Agutter, drama, trains, and this immortal scene, which can reduce parents to tear-spouting sofa-jellies in seconds:

(Pause. Gathers self)

So the thing is, it seems there has been a complaint raised against the film – the first since it was released 43 years ago – with regard to the ease with which the children can access the tracks of the railway.

The British Board of Film Classification has issued its annual report for 2012, within which this telling paragraph resides:

“The much-loved children’s film The Railway Children, first classified U [for Universal, anyone can watch] in 1970, received its first complaint 42 years later. The correspondent was concerned that children may be encouraged to play on railway tracks as a result of seeing the film.”

Which does seem fair enough, in a sense. After all, on more than one occasion a child is nearly run over by a train.


“While aware of the real dangers of such behaviour, the BBFC judged that it was very unlikely that The Railway Children would promote such dangerous activity. The Railway Children is set in the Edwardian period and trains and access to railway property are very different today. The film also demonstrates the potential harm to children if proper care is not taken.”

Well there is that, also the chances of meeting a charming station manager who would put up with the shenanigans of any children whatsoever are significantly reduced. Not everything counts as progress, y’know.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
View all posts by Fraser McAlpine.