The trio set off on another Big Steam Adventure

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Tuesday: The Big Steam Adventure (C5, 9pm)

For millions of people, steam trains aren’t just a special interest or a hobby they dabble in during their spare time. They’re a lifelong passion that connects generations like almost nothing else.

From the romance of The Railway Children to the gleaming, scarlet Hogwarts Express, the power of the locomotive to enchant continues, even in this sustainable, electric age.

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As if it were really needed, proof of that has come with this charming show, which follows veteran journalist and presenter John Sergeant, actor Peter Davison and North Yorkshire Moors Railway alumnus Paul ‘Piglet’ Middleton, as they aim to travel from London to Scotland using only the power of steam.

Last week’s opener demonstrated all three men’s absolute love of such trains, and the second catches up with our intrepid trio as they start their journey at Peterborough station, home to the Nene Valley Railway.

Piglet, who shot to fame in The Yorkshire Steam Railway: All Aboard, is thrilled that they’re starting on 92 Squadron, a steam train that was conceived by famous designer Oliver Bullet.

He’s not the only one who’s over the moon: John gets to sit up front this time, but his hopes of being allowed to drive are dashed when he’s handed the coal shovel. Piglet and Peter, meanwhile, relax in comfort in the carriages behind.

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Eventually John does get the chance to drive the huge engine, but there’s more joy to come. When the three men reach their journey’s end at Wansford, they head to the engine sheds. Inside are plenty of fantastic locomotives but one excites them more than the rest – the original Thomas the Tank engine.

She was named in 1971 when the Reverend W Awdry, having finished writing his children’s books, said he needed a genuine engine upon which to base his main character.

Adoration at the wheels of Thomas complete, the men head to the Grand Union Canal where they board a steam barge named The Adamant.

A genuine challenge lies in store for this leg of their journey: they need to master the seven locks which the enormous vessel can only just fit through. Catastrophe looms when the essential windlass, used to operate the locks, is dropped but a man with a magnet saves the day!

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Arriving at Leicester, the impressive steam locomotive the Duchess of Sutherland speeds our rail devotees north in style as they enjoy waiter service in the fine dining car, before arriving in the bustling city of York.

Actor Peter Davison, presenter John Sergeant and steam buff Paul Middleton join forcesActor Peter Davison, presenter John Sergeant and steam buff Paul Middleton join forces
Actor Peter Davison, presenter John Sergeant and steam buff Paul Middleton join forces

There, they discover their final mode of transport is a quirky three-quarter-sized replica of a Victorian traction engine, cheerily named Polly.

After his handling of 92 Squadron, John steers them through rush hour traffic to their final destination – the pub – much to the joy of the assembled crowds. The three of them are happily chuffing through the streets when disaster strikes: Polly grinds to a halt as she has run out of water.

It remains to be seen whether the trio make it to the bar in time to enjoy a refreshing glass of something chilled, or if their ambitious journey will end ignominiously in York.