Thomas the Tank Engine has been accused of joining the politically correct bandwagon after Christmas was written out of one of his adventures.
The team behind the much-loved children’s TV series has angered campaigners by setting a story during the winter holidays .
Even Christmas trees have been axed in an episode of the DVD, Little Engines, Big Days Out, and are instead referred to as decorated trees. Brightly wrapped presents are delivered to a holiday party .
Critics say the omission was particularly strange because the original Thomas books, hugely popular around the world, were written by a clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.
Ann Widdecombe, the former Government Minister and convert to Roman Catholicism, said it was “extra ridiculous” not to mention Christmas in a children s story as youngsters would be anticipating the special day for months in advance.
“The shops will be stocking Christmas gifts, the television will be advertising presents and people will be talking about it, so the idea that children won’t hear about it is ludicrous”, she said.
It is another example of the politically correct brigade trying to airbrush Christmas out of our lives because they fear they might upset non-Christians, which is nonsense.
In the episode called Keeping Up With James, there are references to winter holidays but no mention of the word Christmas. Thomas is carrying a fir tree as narrator Michael Angelis says: “Thomas is pulling a special tree. You always see a tree with decorations during the winter holidays.”
In the story, red engine James is anxious to beat the other engines to finish a series of jobs because he wants to win the privilege of distributing children’s presents.
The narrator says the Fat Controller, the rotund manager of the railways system on the fictional island of Sodor, tells the trains that when the lines are clear of snow he will need an engine to take the presents to the holiday party an apparent reference to a Christmas celebration.
At one point, James pulls into a station where children are singing carols and decorating a Christmas tree with shiny baubles. The narrator says: “James listened to the choir and watched all the colourful decorations being put up.”
Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, said: “It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title.
Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.”
However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.
The original Thomas characters were created by Mr Awdry in 1945 while he was a vicar. - Mail on Sunday