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The Railway Children
What's on
July 2022
Reading time 10 minutes

Starring Sheridan Smith, The Railway Children Return is a heart-warming new film inspired by the much-loved original

Watch the trailer now as it heads to cinemas on 15th July.

It’s 1944 and three evacuee children are sent by their mother from Salford to the Yorkshire village of Oakworth. There to meet them on the platform are Bobbie (Jenny Agutter reprising her iconic role), her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith), and grandson Thomas. When the children discover injured American soldier Abe hiding out in the railway yard, a quest begins to help their new friend who, like them, is a long way from home.

Casting director Kate Ringsell led an online hunt to find the perfect children to join the cast, as Covid meant physical auditions couldn’t take place. ‘The children’s performances were absolutely going to be pivotal to this film,’ says producer Jemma Rodgers. ‘If they weren’t right then, we wouldn’t go ahead; it wouldn’t work.’

With casting sorted, the location was obvious.Very few changes were made to Oakworth Station because it has hardly changed. ‘It was period correct,’ Jemma says. ‘We had to cover up a few signs, but apart from that it was pretty much there. We used trains that would have been of that period. Sadly we couldn’t afford to change the upholstery in the carriages (I’m sure the trainspotters will be all over us for that).’

There were discussions about using the Old Gentleman’s train, and the Green Dragon from the original film, but they’re too old now. But Jemma was introduced to what the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway call ‘Big Jim’ and she knew it was perfect.

Jemma is excited to see audiences’ reactions now the production is complete. ‘I have to be honest, I’m getting a little bit nervous now because we’re getting very close to the release date,’ she laughs. ‘It’s starting to feel a bit more real, but up until this point, because the whole story is very much inspired by my love of the original (but also by elements of my own life), it felt weirdly comfortable for me.

‘It was incredibly important to me to pay homage by putting in a few nods to the original film, but not so many that they’re distracting. People who have already watched the film have said they haven’t actually seen the original but this stands on its own as a story. But if you’ve seen the original, you’ll hopefully find a layer of emotional connection.’

The Railway Children Return, distributed by StudioCanal, is released in cinemas on 15th July.

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