Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Thomas story changes criticised

The daughter of the Thomas the Tank Engine author is 'dismayed' by reports that religious references were removed from a story

The daughter of Thomas the Tank Engine author the Reverend Wilbert Awdry has criticised "political correctness against Christian belief" after reports that religious references were removed from a story.

An episode called Keeping Up With James, which featured on a DVD, showed the trains competing to carry presents to children and included references to "winter holidays" and a "holiday tree".

Mr Awdry's daughter, Hilary Fortnam, told the Daily Telegraph she was "dismayed" by the story.

In a letter to the paper, she said: "It is not what my father, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, wrote. He always impressed on reporters and publishers that he 'was a priest first and a children's author second'."

She added: "Political correctness against Christian belief offends."

A spokeswoman for Hit Entertainment, which owns the rights to the characters, said the company "actively embraces Christmas" and the DVD in question was made by a separate firm.

She said: "Christmas is a consistent storyline in HIT Entertainment's more recent DVDs, for example last year we produced Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express and next year will release Merry Christmas Thomas.

"Christmas is also heavily featured across other lines of our business, including within the Thomas & Friends TV series, as part of our consumer product offering and at a special themed month held each year at Thomas Land in Drayton Manor Park."

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