This charmingly old-fashioned wartime yarn is a more sedate affair. Jenny Agutter returns as Bobbie, now a kindly pensioner living in the Yorkshire village of Oakworth with her headmistress daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith) and cheery 13-year-old grandson Thomas (Austin Haynes).
When a train packed with evacuees arrives at the station, Bobbie invites three unruly city kids from Salford to stay with her family.
As resourceful Lily (Beau Gadsdon), younger sister Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and little Ted (Zac Cudby) play in the railway sidings with Thomas, all signals point to gentle, nostalgia-fuelled family entertainment.
Then there’s an unscheduled diversion when trouble breaks out in Oakworth.
A troop of Black American GIs are welcomed with open arms at the village pub and the white supremacist US military police are fuming at the positive reception.
One soldier is beaten in the street and another is shot. Then the children discover injured American serviceman Abe (KJ Aikens) hiding in a derelict train carriage and offer to help.
This strand appears to chime, perhaps jarringly, with the modern Black Lives Matter movement. But the only historical inaccuracy is the setting.
Abe’s story was inspired by the Battle of Bamber Bridge, a 1943 race riot involving American troops and sparked by the refusal of Lancashire publicans to impose US segregation laws.
After years of seeing Brits as Hollywood villains, it’s refreshing to see us on the right side of history for a change. There are no gung-ho US pilots saving the world here.
But in championing tolerance and decency, this wartime British heart-warmer feels just as patriotic.
- The Railway Children Return Cert PG In cinemas now