Theme park's ad For a "Fat Controller" Banned as Discrimination

  1. When zoo bosses decided to invest in a Thomas the Tank Engine train for their young visitors, naturally they wanted a Fat Controller too.
    So they decided to advertise for a portly gentleman who might fit the bill.

    Thomas the Tank Engine and The Fat Controller

    That's where the problems started.

    The zoo's legal advisers warned that advertising specifically for a fat man could be considered illegal.
    They told officials at Drusillas Park Zoo in East Sussex that they should not discriminate - and might have to interview a thin man if one applied for the job.
    The zoo launched the ride last month, after importing Thomas from Germany, complete with versions of the carriages Annie and Clarabel.
    Managing director Laurence Smith said a member of staff had been filling in as the driver on occasions.
    "But at a slim 15st he doesn't quite fit the specification."
    Christine Smith, his wife, is also a managing director at the zoo, at Alfriston, near Eastbourne.

    She said: "Since we did the deal to bring Thomas to Drusillas we have worked very hard to ensure the train and all the theming is an exact replica of the books and the TV programme.
    "So getting a fat Fat Controller is just part of that commitment. We are hoping that common sense will prevail and that we will find the right person before too long.

    "We are currently advertising the part-time job on our website but have had to be very discreet about what we say."
    John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: "Why on earth should this park, that is trying to do its best to keep faithful to books, that have been enjoyed by generations, be penalised by the politically-correct lobby?

    "It is so ridiculous. I really can't think the vast majority of common-sense people would take the slightest offence over this.
    "It is no wonder, that in a national opinion poll carried out by ICM for the campaign, 80 per cent of Britons are fed up with political correctness."
    The Fat Controller's official name is Sir Topham Hatt.
    He appears in the Railway Series books by the Reverend W Awdry, the first of which was published in 1945.

    There are several theories as to who the character was based on.
    Some think is he was modelled on Horace May, who was general manager of the Bluebell Railway, a private steam railway, at Sheffield Park, Sussex, during the 1960s.

    Mr May, who also appears in the Railway Series as Stepney's controller in Stepney the Bluebell Engine, resembles the Fat Controller portrayed by the illustrator John T Kenney.

    However, the Fat Controller had been in the books since 1945, long before Mr May rose to prominence in railway preservation circles.
    A Day Out With Thomas events, in which trains are made to resemble the engine, are popular throughout the country. But the zoo's Thomas the Tank Engine ride is the first permanent attraction
  2. The world has gone crazy. I was actually talking about the fat controller with one of the parents where I work the other day, and she doesn't call him "the fat controller" in front of her kids incase they pick up the word "fat" and start saying she is!
  3. I always remembered him as being called "Sir Topham Hatt". I aslo think the whole thing is ridiculous.
  4. and when to work in a hostess agency and being asked to be mininum 5'7" isn't that discrimination ?? look around the world is full of it. I also know him as Sir Topham Hatt
  5. OMG that is soo dumb!!
  6. Ridiculous!
  7. Our son is obsessed in ways I cannot explain with Thomas.

    We started picking up books and movies here and there and about a year after the collection began we came across some original stories in which Sir Topham Hatt was called the "Fat" Controller! I about died!

    However, as it has been brought to my attention in another thread I started about speaking of people in correct or not-so-correct ways (labels, specifically was my concern), our kids are so young, and in their eyes, fat or thin (or whatever) means nothing to them.

    I think our own paranoia (sp?) is the problem. That sucks for me, because I don't want to send my kid the wrong impression, which I think I might have done...parenting is too hard today! :yes: Lately, I fear that I am doing it all wrong!
  8. Yep the world has gone overly PC.

  9. Agreed. discrimination comes in many forms of life.
  10. It's a world gone mad!
  11. OK when I read the title of this thread I was expecting a story about a job for someone to keep fat people off rides. :yes: :shrugs:

    (I'm overweight)
  12. So did I!
  13. Couldn't they get around it by advertising for 'Someone who looks, as much as possible, like this man: (insert pic of 'Fat Controller'), in every way.'? :biggrin:

    This situation is, obviously, ridiculous, as I think it is extremely unlikely that most slim, or thin, men would feel discriminated against because they couldn't apply for the job!

    To insist that they remove the word 'fat' from the ad, on that basis, would certainly seem to be following the word of the law, rather than the spirit of it. :yes:

    However, on a side note, I disagree with John Midgley, somewhat, as I think it is certainly possible that advertising for a 'fat man' might be seen as slightly offensive by some people visiting the site.

    This is because, particularly in recent years, the word 'fat' has been tarnished in many of our (adult) minds by (often incorrect, as it turns out) associations with gluttony and sloth.

    As I've said before, IMO there is nothing wrong with noticing a person's physical characteristics and even describing them by them, but there is something wrong when we use adjectives as insults and/or the adjectives we use are ones that we know are frequently used by others as insults.

    This is because, as we all know, it can be hurtful to hear a word that is normally used as an insult against one, even when it is clear that the person currently saying it doesn't intend it as an insult.

    Since the 'fat gene' has been recently discovered and has confirmed what many of us have always believed, that there is a gene that dictates that the people with it will gain fatty deposits far more easily than those without it and the people with a double dose of it (from both sides of the family) will gain weight even more easily still; advertising for a 'fat man' (when some of these men may well find it almost impossible to be slim) can surely, logically, be viewed as almost as offensive as advertising for someone on the basis of colour, or race? :shrugs:

    Rather than, permanently, abandoning the word (as we have so many others), I think we, as a society and as individuals, need to hastily reject our, largely incorrect, assumptions about people of higher weight and then, perhaps, eventually, the word 'fat' can be used freely again, without causing offence; as it will no longer have such negative associations.
  14. Ive actually never watched kids are obssesed with

    But like you said, descrimination is everywhere and those people who are more blunt about it dont get penalized. Why should this theme park who is just trying to stay as close to the books description?
  15. I guess they can just say they are looking for someone to play this particular character, and one of the qualifications is familiarity with the stories, including the character they will be playing.

    Whether kids think of people as fat or ugly or unsightly-wart-embellished is irrelevant, the important thing is learning that we do not make any comments about peoples' appearance or clothing unless we sincerely think they or it is pretty, in which case we not only may say so, we should.

    If we think they are fat, etc we can talk to them about other things, and discuss our impressions of their fatness once we are back in the privacy of our home and the bosom, fat or otherwise, of our family!