The much-publicised revamp of the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series, in which traditional characters and storylines are to get a injection of 21st century realism, was in chaos today, after the owners of Sodor’s track system announced they would not be able to complete the repairs and upgrades to the network in time for the first episode.
‘This is a hugely complex infrastructure project, in which we were asked to make much-needed improvements to the whole of the North Western Railway’ said Peter McBride, project lead at the Really Useful Infrastructure Network. ‘Most of the lines are nearly 75 years old and in our renovations, we’ve uncovered much more sexism, classism and bits of casual racism than we first anticipated. Oh, and sabotage on an industrial scale by that little shit Diesel 10. We’re aiming for completion in June 2019, which is still well before Crossrail, mind.’
Producers have promised a more diverse set of characters, gender balance, and story lines that reflect the modern world of work in the new series. Episode 1 will see female engines Rebecca, Nia and Emily lobbying Boris the Fat Take Back Controller for equal pay for equal work, in the face of 30% lower hourly pay rates than Percy, James and Gordon. Episode 2 is thought to focus on Isla, the Australian Flying Doctor, who is struggling to cope with 70-hour average working weeks and cuts in her payments for unsocial hours.
‘This is an update that reflects the realities of 21st Century Britain, sorry, Sodor,’ said one of the producers. ‘Episode 3 will look at the implications of 50% of the trains being placed on a zero-hours contracts, with the rest, apart from Thomas, routinely having to reapply for their jobs. Churubala, the female railway controller from India, will be introduced in Episode 4, after her global train operating company successfully bids to run the problematic East Coast line in Sodor.’
The series is thought to be building towards a tense final episode, in which many of the trains get together to push through a statutory trade union recognition procedure at establishment level in an attempt to standardise terms and conditions, only to be undermined by Thomas and a couple of the others male leads, who it is revealed are on juicy individual performance-related pay packages.