But if Thomas The Tank Engine is so influential, where are all the UK’s talking trains? That’s what I want to know.
The popular Thomas The Tank Engine series has been blamed for the lack of female train drivers by Labour’s shadow transport secretary.
She described the lack of women train drivers as a ‘national scandal’, and said the ‘negative stereotypes’ portrayed in children’s television were partly to blame.
Mary Creagh said the series set a poor example to children and that more female characters should be introduced in order to encourage girls to become train drivers.
There are just 1,000 women working as train drivers, which equates to just 4.2per cent of the total number. Train drivers’ union Aslef is currently working to encourage more women into the industry.
Is there some faint possibility that women don’t especially want to become train drivers? Mary Creagh doesn’t. Did she choose to become an obnoxious political hack because of children’s television? Was there a cartoon vulture that she modeled herself after?
Most people choose their careers as adults, long after they’ve stopped watching children’s television. Otherwise there would be a national glut of firefighters and candy store owners.
Unless Mary Creagh is really hoping to attract more children to the profession… or more adults who watch children’s television, this doesn’t seem like much of a plan.
In the original books the only female characters were coaches Annie and Clarabel, Isabel the auto coach, Mrs Kyndley, an elderly woman, and female engine Daisy.
Ms Creagh said the only female characters were an ‘annoyance’, and could even be seen as a danger to those on the railway.
If only the aspiring Labor secretary had put nearly as much thought into the UK’s unemployment situation as she had into a children’s book.
Hit Entertainment, which owns the rights to Thomas, said that more female characters were being developed to address a historical imbalance.
But what about gay trains, transgender trains, black trains, black gay transgender trains? What percentage of UK train drivers are black transgender and in wheelchairs?
Let’s start writing them in.