The Railway Children Return

Certificate: PG

Starring: Sheridan Smith, Jenny Agutter, John Bradley, Beau Gadson

Release date: 2022

4 out of 5


Generations of children (and their parents) have been left blubbering messes after watching 1970’s The Railway Children, that was based on the classic E Nesbit novel about a family of children sent to a Yorkshire village in 1905 after their father was arrested for spying.

This sequel – made more than 50 years later, but set during World War II – keeps the same sweet, nostalgic tone of the first movie (just without the heart-stopping end scene) and also features the return of Jenny Agutter, who played teenage Bobbie in the original.

Bobbie is now in her late fifties, and has Annie, a daughter of her own (Smith) who is headmistress of the local school. They are both there to greet a train filled with evacuated children, and end up taking three in – Ted (Zac Cudby), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and older sister Lily (star-in-the-making Beau Gadsdon).

These, along with Annie’s son Thomas (Austin Haynes), are the new railway children, and their adventures include discovering and helping a young runaway American soldier named Abe (Kenneth Aikens).

The original movie was a very old-fashioned English family film (lots of rolling hills, pretty costumes and stiff upper lips) and, while director Morgan Matthews and writer Danny Brocklehurst have added a more modern and slightly tougher stance to proceedings that doesn’t always feel tonally right, this lovingly-made, respectful sequel still has the warm feeling of community, heart and joy, that made The Railway Children such a beloved classic.

Is The Railway Children Return suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

There are scenes in which young US officers are seen being bullied and assaulted by fellow officers, which may upset younger viewers.

The children are sometimes in mild danger (for example, two are arrested) but it’s not too long for any tense storylines to be resolved.

If you like this, why not try: