Thomas the Tank Engine bashed by Labour MP Mary Creagh for 'sexism'
Thomas the Tank Engine bashed by Labour MP Mary Creagh for 'sexism'

A Labour politician has launched an attack on the children's classic Thomas the Tank Engine with a broadside against the TV show's portrayal of "female" locomotives.

Mary Creagh blamed the programme, which is based on the series of stories and books written in the 1940s by Rev W Awdry and his son, for a lack of female train drivers in Britain.

Thomas and his steam-powered friends have being chugging around Sodor on television since 1982, but only one of the main cast of engines is female.

Creagh, who is shadow transport secretary, called "a national scandal" figures that revealed that only 4.2% of train drivers in the UK were women. She laid in to Thomas the Tank Engine for allegedly pumping out the wrong message to young girls.

According to Creagh, the female characters in the show are an "annoyance" that posed a hazard to other characters on the show.

She said: "In the Thomas the Tank Engine books there are almost no female engines. The only female characters are an annoyance, a nuisance and in some cases a danger to the functioning of the railway.

"There is a preponderance of men in the transport industry and I am very keen to unpack some of the myths that stop women from taking up what are often highly paid and highly skilled jobs."

Creagh hailed changes made by the television industry to redress the balance of male to female characters with shows such as Underground Ernie, but insisted that more had to be done.

"There have been some changes. Underground Ernie is wonderful, and there are some female trains in that. But again it is called Underground Ernie, not Underground Rosie."

A spokeswoman at Hit Entertainment, which owns the rights to Thomas the Tank Engine, said that creators were developing new female characters to bring to the show.