The Interweb is getting excited because the owner of the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise are releasing a new film featuring some new characters - foreign trains!
As expected, the Daily Mail is very angry, although not fuming as much as some of their nuttier commentators. I hadn't spotted the story until the guy looking after the York show Facebook feed decided to go off on one. At that point I was slightly annoyed, not because of the new characters, but because a show I usually enjoy had decided to turn all xenophobic (the writer claimed to have accidentally logged on with the wrong account eventually). After all, they hadn't complained about this monstrosity:
"Diesel 10" from the Thomas & the Magic Railroad film. If Rev Awdry was to spin in his grave, I think a Peak with an out-of-gauge grab would probably do it rather more than some new characters who happen to be based on non-UK prototypes.
Bad things have been happening to the series since the rights were sold back in the 1980s. The stories have moved far away from the gentle tales based on good railway practise. Worse, the toys might have started out as model of real engines but now we have horrors like this:
go and have a look at thing on Amazon to see just how witless this is. Watch the video and then ask yourself, "How long would this amuse a child for?".
Let's face it, once they have watched Tomas complete half a dozen circuits they'll work out that nothing new is going happen and head back to the telly. Compared to a train set, especially one with a siding you can shunt into, it's complete rubbish IMHO.
So no, frothers on the Interweb, Thomas is not being ruined by the addition of new characters. I'd say these were a positive development. The good Rev always considered the locomotives to be children and at a guess I'd expect the film to finish with everyone good friends. That sounds like a pretty positive message to me.
As for the evil "diversity" that exorcises the Mail commentators?
Digging out my copy of "Thomas the Tank Engine" printed in 1970, what do we find on page 35?
Sadly, appearances are deceptive as this is supposed to be Edward. Whether illustrator C. Reginald Dalby was trying to make a change, show an engine in shadow or just made a mistake is unclear. It stuck in my mind though.