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Thomas story changes criticised

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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