MUPPETS MOST WANTED

US
2014
1hr 47mins
Dir: James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey

The Muppets become involved in an international crime caper whilst on a world tour in Europe

Muppets Most Wanted (referred to in-film as The Muppets…Again!) is a musical crime comedy and the eighth theatrical film featuring The Muppets, the classic American ensemble cast of puppet characters. This film features scenes with Miss Piggy loading her luggage onto a train at Los Angeles Union station, then arriving into ‘Dublin’ station, and both scenes were filmed at Horsted Keynes on the Bluebell Railway. No.3 Captain Baxter was standing in for a US locomotive named Randy Stevenot, suitably adorned with US flags, cow catcher, large brass whistle, and huge smokestack chimney. Captain Baxter was built in 1877 by Fletcher Jennings & Co of Whitehaven (works/no.158) and spent its entire working life at Dorking Greystone Lime Works at Betchworth in Surrey. It arrived on the Bluebell in 1960 as one of the very first standard gauge locos to enter preservation there, but was laid up after a single steaming. It returned to traffic in 1982 but the diminutive little 0-4-0 tank is now to small to haul trains on the line. None the less, the loco is a unique survivor, and it provides an attractive contrast in its bright red livery lined in black with green additions when it appears on demonstration trains. The rolling stock used for the circus train is of interest. It comprised of a Southern Railway brake van, a Maunsell coach, and a very old SECR ‘Birdcage’ Brake No.1061. As part of the joke, the film producers wanted a train that really looked old and decrepit. They walked around the storage sidings at Horsted Keynes and picked the most dilapidated vehicles they could find. The less paint adhering to them and the more bits missing then the better, the only stipulation being that the wheels must go round! Having been extricated from the brambles the three vehicles formed an unlikely spectacle when coupled behing Captain Baxter. There is also a scene in the film where some of the Muppet cast escape the villain by jumping from the circus train to a passing freight train hauled by a diesel locomotive in BR black – most likely to be Class 08 13236/D3236/08168, as it was on loan to the Bluebell when filming took place during March 2013. This was the only stunt filmed on the line and used Horsted Keynes station again.

Captain Baxter arrives into ‘Dublin’ station, actually platform 2 at Horsted Keynes. The background buildings are, thankfully, a CGI creation.
Passengers on platform 5 at Horsted Keynes, as viewed through the somewhat grubby window of the train
A closer view of Captain Baxter and its US-style embellishments
Passengers mill about the platform at Horsted Keynes as the circus train pulls in
There are a number of shots of Captain Baxter and its circus train travelling through Europe, which of course show the train super enhanced into the modern landscape. Here we see the steam train crossing the Thames on Cannon Street railway bridge, the centre of the three bridges.
For the record, this shot has the train standing in Madrid Atocha station alongside some far more modern electric trains
Back on the Bluebell now, and the circus train bursts out from beneath New Road Bridge as dusk begins to fall
Captain Baxter showing its temporary Randy Stevenot identity. This shot is a juxtaposition using the platform of Union station, Los Angeles, with the track and train of the Bluebell Railway. The actual building behind the train was in fact the wall of Horsted Keynes carriage shed that had a huge blue screen erected next to it onto which an image of Union station was projected. Notice the Amtrak double-deck train visible in the adjacent platform!
Some of the Muppet cast onboard the train. The black locomotive with lion and wheel emblem outside the window is almost certainly Class 08 No.13236.
A Muppets eye view of the circus train
A Muppet jumps between trains. The track layout and backdrop may well suggest somewhere other than the Bluebell, but this stunt actually used Horsted Keynes again, with the circus train on the left standing stationary in platform 2 as the goods train passed through platform 3.