Mother and Baby

Thomas And Friends to introduce gender-balanced and multicultural characters

The childhood fave TV show, Thomas the Tank Engine has undergone a serious makeover. The revamp will feature a new theme tune, new characters and new storylines - all part of an effort to challenge gender and cultural inequalities on the show.

Thomas and Friends has introduced brand new female characters to balance out the gender differences as well as some new international trains from China, Australia and Africa.

The US toy brand Mattel has also collaborated with the United Nations on new storylines focusing on their five goals: quality education, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and life on land.

Thomas and friends will now travel the world instead of staying in the comfort Sodor in England with half of the new episodes taking place abroad. This overhaul of the kid's classic is the biggest transformation of the show since it first aired in 1984. The changes have caused controversy online and some don't think all the efforts to improve diversity and equality are a good thing. A Twitter poll of 679 people by news.com.au asked "Are you on board with the changes, or is the show just bowing to political correctness?" with 81% of people responding 'NO. Leave it alone'.

Several Twitter users took to the site to express their annoyance at the new changes. 

However, not everyone was disappointed by the changes and some took to the time to tweet their appreciation for the revamp.

In 2013, Labour MP Mary Creagh complained that Thomas the Tank Engine was not encouraging women to become train drivers because it reinforced "negative stereotypes". Series producer Ian McCue argued that the changes were necessary and the ideas came from research they conducted by listening to their audiences made up of parents, carers and young children. 

What do you think? Are the changes a good thing or are they unnecessary? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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