Daily Telegraph reheats Daily Mail rubbish

Last week the Daily Mail claimed that Thomas the Tank Engine had got rid of Christmas in an attempt to be politically correct. The article did seem to contradict this claim by including the following two paragraphs near the end:

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.’

So, the Daily Mail article made it clear that the DVD they were referring to was an older release, and as such was not exactly ‘news’ nor was the DVD intended as a seasonal release.

The Daily Telegraph today ran the following headline: ‘Christmas removed from Thomas the Tank Engine to be politically correct’. They followed up this headline with this sub-heading:

The daughter of the clergyman author who created Thomas the Tank Engine has criticised television producers for writing Christmas out of a new series. [emphasis is mine]

The article continues:

In the offending TV episode called “Keeping up with James”, the trains compete to carry presents to children against a background with a fir tree decorated with baubles and a choir.

But instead of using the word Christmas, the programme talks of the “winter holidays” and a “holiday tree.”

Just a couple of problems:

  1. The episode referred to in the Telegraph article – presumably what the Telegraph means by ‘writing Christmas out of a new series‘ – first aired in 2005.
  2. This year a Thomas the Tank Engine Christmas special is being released on the 31st October – complete with ‘Wishes come true in this Christmas special!’ slapped on the front cover.

The Telegraph does seem to make the vaguest reference to what the Mail article made clear: the removal of overtly Christmas language was a cynical attempt to flog the DVD all year round and all-world-round. However, it doesn’t offer the same level of transparency that the Daily Mail article does and simply states in the closing paragraph that:

Hit Entertainment has said references to Christmas were removed because the DVD on which it featured was designed to be sold all the year round.

And, as is very clear by the expected 31st October release of the Thomas the Tank Engine Christmas special, we can clearly see that new episodes will indeed be cynically exploiting the Christmas theme for profit. Just as Jesus would have wanted, no doubt.


With thanks to @notjarvis for tweeting this story to me.

2 thoughts on “Daily Telegraph reheats Daily Mail rubbish”

  1. Thanks for the mention – its just a laughable non-story.

    From the comments thread under the article (from an account named Hit_Entertainment)

    OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM HIT ENTERTAINMENT

    Any reports that HIT Entertainment, rights owner of ‘Thomas & Friends’, has been “writing Christmas out of a new series” are completely inaccurate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The episode that is being referenced is six years old and was contained in a four episode DVD that was not sold as either a “Christmas” or a “Holiday” themed release.

    Thomas has a great deal of Christmas themed content and does not shy away from celebrating the occasion, as last year’s DVD ‘Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express’ makes clear. Currently we are working on another DVD ‘Merry Christmas, Thomas’.

    We take the legacy of The Rev. Awdry’s work very seriously in the creation of all of our new content and work closely with his family to best manage Thomas for future generations of children. Christmas was, and continues to be, celebrated on the island of Sodor, the home of ‘Thomas & Friends’.

  2. It does seem kind of odd that they would produce a non-Christmas product for all seasons and all worldwide markets, by taking a Christmas story and changing a few words so nobody mentions Christmas.

    Were they short of stories at the time? Did they produce a whole Christmas episode, then re-dub the voices last minute to fit a marketing directive? Sounds like they’re running a pretty rubbish operation.

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