Thomas the Tank Engine set to get more female trains after 70 years

goss 16/10/2017

It's taken 70 years, but young girls watching Thomas and Friends finally have some female characters to identify with.

The beloved children's series has been dominated with male characters, but in its newest season, things are changing.

Now with the addition of Nia and Rebecca, three of the show's seven main characters at Tidmouth Sheds are female trains.

Senior producer Ian McCue says it is "about time" to bring in more female characters, as the show's audience is filled with both boys and girls.

"We just need to engage our young audience and be able to keep up, and we want to be here for another 70 years and we hope Thomas and Friends will be."

While the show is just 30 years old, the characters have been around since The Railways Series books in the 1940s, which first introduced Thomas the Tank Engine and the other locomotives.

Olivia Dickinson, a campaigner for Let Toys Be Toys, which aims to remove gender roles and barriers around children's activities, says it's important for all children to see men and women equally.

"It's not just about girls being empowered by seeing girls being the central character; it's about boys understanding that the norm is that girls and boys are equal."

Current characters Henry and Edward will become background characters to make room for Nia and Rebecca.