'Inclusive' gender-balanced and multicultural characters steam in for Thomas ...

Children’s programme Thomas And Friends is to introduce an ‘inclusive’ gender-balanced, multicultural set of characters as part of a revamp.

The new series of the animated show about Thomas the Tank Engine and his Steam Team will see the beloved locomotive leave his home in Sodor to travel the world for the first time.

He will meet other trains including Ashima from India, Yong Bao from China and Shane from Australia.

Now called Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Adventures!, the brand’s biggest relaunch in its 73-year history will aim to appeal to a wider global audience.

Hong-Mei, a number one blue tank engine from China, is another of the popular children's show's characters 

Hong-Mei, a number one blue tank engine from China, is another of the popular children's show's characters 

Nia from Kenya is one of the characters who has been added to the show in a bid to introduce more multi-cultural characters

Nia from Kenya is one of the characters who has been added to the show in a bid to introduce more multi-cultural characters

New Thomas & Friends character Rajiv, pictured, is described as a small tank engine from the East Indian Railway

New Thomas & Friends character Rajiv, pictured, is described as a small tank engine from the East Indian Railway

ZiLong is another of the Thomas & Friends characters introduced in a bid to revamp the popular children's TV programme

ZiLong is another of the Thomas & Friends characters introduced in a bid to revamp the popular children's TV programme

There will also be a new theme tune for the show, a faster-paced format, increased humour and music, fantasy elements and dream sequences.

For the first time in the series’ history, Thomas will discover new countries and cultures by travelling to China, India and Australia.

The Steam Team, the core group of trains on the fictional island of Sodor, will now comprise three male and three female characters.

Long-running favourites Percy, Gordon, James and Emily will be joined by additions Nia and Rebecca, along with Thomas.

Other new female characters, described by show bosses as ‘strong girl characters’, include Isla, an Australian flying doctor plane, Noor Jehan, a royal express engine from India, Hong-Mei, a number one blue tank engine from China, and female railway controller Charubala, from India.

Isla is a Australian flying doctor plane and another of the characters introduced as part of the show's effort to modernise

Isla is a Australian flying doctor plane and another of the characters introduced as part of the show's effort to modernise

Noor Jehan is a royal express engine from India and another of the characters in the revamped Thomas & Friends series 

Noor Jehan is a royal express engine from India and another of the characters in the revamped Thomas & Friends series 

Tamika is one of the characters in the revamped Thomas & Friends show which will air daily from September 3 on Channel 5

Tamika is one of the characters in the revamped Thomas &

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