Young men are committing crime as Doctor Who, Ghostbusters and other positive male screen roles have been replaced by women, a Conservative MP has suggested.
Nick Fletcher said there appears to be a “tiny yet very vocal minority” of people that want a female replacement for “every male character or good role model”.
He told MPs this has left men with Tommy Shelby, from crime drama Peaky Blinders, and the Krays as their screen role models, before asking: “Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?”
Jodie Whittaker is the first female Doctor Who while an all-female line-up starred in the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters.
The MP for Don Valley highlighted the difficulties faced by young boys – with many “lagging behind” at school.
He stressed the need for boys to have “positive” male role models and pressed the Government to help efforts to encourage more men to become teachers.
Mr Fletcher also told the debate: “I’d also like to reiterate something that seems to be very topical at the moment – although much more for women than men – and that is the need for men to have their own identity and for masculinity to be something that can be celebrated at times rather than continually vilified.
“Everywhere, not least within the cultural sphere, there seems to be a call from a tiny yet very vocal minority that every male character or good role model must have a female replacement.
“One only needs to look at the discussion surrounding who will play the next James Bond – and it’s not just James Bond.
“In recent years we have seen Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker, the Equalizer all replaced by women, and men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby.
“Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?
“These programmes make crime look cool.
“Trust me, a lifetime in prison is not cool and neither is living with the memory of a stabbed son or daughter.”
Mr Fletcher earlier also called for boys to “have their own clubs – just as girls need their own”.
He said: “Indeed, it’s a wonderful thing that girls’ football is on TV, it’s terrific that female tennis stars are finally starting to be paid as much as their male counterparts, and as a father of a daughter myself, I wish to applaud all who have corrected this wrong and the hundreds of other injustices.”
Mr Fletcher later attempted to row back on what he said.
He released a statement in which he claimed his “nuanced point” about increasingly fewer male role models for young boys had been “misconstrued”.
He said: “My point was, in fact, a straightforward one and in no way linked Dr Who being a female to crime being committed by men.”
Mr Fletcher went on to write the “only characters many boys with no good male role models in their lives see on television are increasingly criminal”.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “It seems Nick Fletcher has stepped into the Tardis and taken a trip back to the 1950s, where his attitude belongs.
“The Conservatives are so desperate to pass the buck for their failure to tackle crime and keep our communities safe that they’re even blaming Doctor Who.
“This baseless assertion would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful. There are plenty of positive role models for young children, regardless of gender.”