Directed by Morgan Matthews (X + Y) and starring Sheridan Smith (Cilla), Jenny Agutter (Call The Midwife), Tom Courtenay (45 Years, Billy Liar) and John Bradley (Game of Thrones) The Railway Children Return centres around three children from Manchester Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) who are sent to a village in Yorkshire to keep them safe from the threat of bombings during World War 2.

The local headmistress and her mother decide to take the children in. They soon become good friends with the headmistresses’ young son who introduces them to the area and the locals including the school bullies. He shows them his secret hideaway, an old railway carriage. They come across a young injured black soldier hiding in the carriage who desperately wants to get back to his homeland. The children try to help him and keep him hidden until they can come up with a plan, putting themselves and the young soldier in danger.

The Railway Children was originally a children’s book by Edith Nesbit. It was serialised in The London Magazine in 1905 and then went on to be published as a book in the same year. It’s been adapted numerous times for the screen. This film is a sequel to the 1970s Railway Children film with the actress Jenny Agutter reprising her role as Bobbie Waterbury and Sheridan Smith playing her daughter Annie. There’s a beautiful scene between the two women in the beginning of the film which references the 1970s film when Annie asks her mother ‘Do you remember your arrival here? ‘ And Bobbie replies: ‘Like it was yesterday’.

I was vaguely familiar with The Railway Children but I never watched the series or films or read the book, so I went into the it knowing very little about it and taking it as a stand-alone piece. This didn’t take away my enjoyment of it.

The film beautifully captures the bubble of childhood and all the mischief children get up to, but with the added backdrop of a world war. The young actors sparkle off the screen and together with Smith and Agutter they form a terrific ensemble. It was also lovely to see John Bradley of Game of Thrones fame as the kind-hearted but stubborn train station master.

The film is both funny and at times very moving, particularly when they talk about the men fighting in the war. When I was watching the film I found myself making many parallels with what’s happening with the war in Ukraine today and the impact the war has on children. The Railway Children Return is nostalgic, is relevant to today’s world, is well acted and is a film that both adults and children will enjoy.

  • Directed by: Morgan Matthews
  • Written by:Jemma Rodgers and Daniel Brocklehurst
  • Starring: Jenny Agutter, Sheridan Smith, John Bradley
  • Released: July 15th, 2022

Review by Claire Millane, a Dublin based actor and comedian, and co-hosts of The No Budget Filmcast.

The Railway Children Return Trailer