Monkey Business

who were East Midlands Trains?

East Midlands Trains was a British train operating company owned by the transport group Stagecoach, which operated the East Midlands franchise between November 2007 and August 2019.

East Midlands Trains ended its operations during August 2019, with East Midlands Railway taking over services previously performed by both Midland Mainline and the eastern parts of the Central Trains franchises.

To mark this changeover East Midlands Trains organised a special employee charter train to celebrate their successes over the previous 11 years of the franchise. 

Stage One: The BRIEF

We were asked to create something fun, unusual and circus themed with the added challenge of it being able to be performed on the narrow aisles of a charter train over a long period of time. 

East Midlands Trains were keen on the idea of bringing a circus onboard however due to the limiting size of the aisles and low ceilings it wasn’t feasible to achieve. Instead we came up with the idea of a troupe of circus monkeys causing chaos and running amok through the train to the dismay of their hapless ringmaster.

The circus monkeys were to pose for photos, hand out bananas and cause general mischief throughout the carriages. 

Stage Two: The Journey

The 1st leg of this specially branded charter train was to depart form Neville Hill at 07:46, travel approximately 4 hours south and arrive in Bedford at 12:06. This train would stop at Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Leicester and Kettering before reaching Bedford. The 2nd leg would depart Bedford at 12:09, travelling approximately 6.5 hours north, stopping at Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and Sheffield before terminating in Derby at 18:39. A total of 10 hours and 53 minutes precisely.

This also meant our performers would be arriving to work in one location and ending their performances in a completely part of the country which offered plenty of logistical challenges in itself. 

Stage Three: Immersive Entertainment

Along with the troupe of circus monkeys and ringmaster the train also boasted a caricaturist, close up magician, face painter and acoustic musicians which suited the spacial capabilities and ensured the carriages were action packed.

The circus monkeys were perfect for this as their brightly coloured costumes were eye-catching and their larger than life personalities are inescapable and entertaining. The ringmaster armed with her bullwhip and top hat offered a more serious and grown up level of interaction whilst hopelessly trying to control the antics of her runaway chimps. These costumes were also ideal for the setting as they are minimal fuss and could easily be taken on and off within the train and the performers didn’t require a large changing and storage space.

Stage Four: Bring In The Guests!

With freshly cooked food the guest dined in style in-between being astonished by magic, receiving comical portraits, being serenaded by acoustic musicians and of course the occasional ‘circus monkey take over’. The chimps were a roaring success amusing children and adults alike with their cheeky behaviour, comical antics and funny interaction.

As guests would be boarding and departing the train at each station, East Midlands Trains wanted entertainment to be continuous throughout the journey except from specific times in the day where guests and their families would be eating their specially made ‘brunch boxes’, ‘lunchtime treat boxes’ and ‘afternoon tea boxes’.

As guests came and went – much like the wheels of the charter, the entertainment kept on rolling – and after 350 miles of railway, months of planning and organisation, countless bananas and 1000’s of happy guests. It was all over. 

“Everyone loved the mischief the monkeys were getting up to throughout the day. It wasn’t something I’d perhaps considered previously, but I’m extremely glad we did – it added that extra element of fun to the day!”


Head of Employee Communications & Engagement, East Midlands Trains

Since this event we have developed our Circus Monkeys and can now also offer “Office Monkeys” and “Space Monkeys” too. 

To enquire about our Circus Monkeys package please use our Contact page, or if you have your own ideas in mind and would like to discuss a custom package created just for you – drop us a message.