In The News

Tributes are paid to the creator of Thunderbirds

Tributes are paid to the creator of Thunderbirds

TRIBUTES have been paid to the creator of Thunderbirds, Gerry Anderson, who has passed away aged 83.

Mr. Anderson was also behind a number of other hit TV shows for children in the 1960s and 1970s including Stingray, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons.

He had started making programmes for children in the 1950s and was soon developing the skills and the technology which was to become a feature of his puppet-action productions.

But his production company was facing difficulties when the famous producer Lew Grade commissioned the Supercar show.

The show was billed as being made in Supermarionation — a tonque-in-cheek term invented by Mr. Anderson which went on to become regarded by many people as denoting a specialised technique used in the production of puppet-action programmes.

Thunderbirds, which was the fourth show produced by Mr. Anderson, was to become his most successful commercially and the one most remembered by fans across the world.

Mr. Anderson named the science-fiction action series after Thunderbird Field, an airbase in Arizona where his brother Lionel had trained to be an RAF pilot during World War II. Sergeant Pilot Anderson was lost in action in 1944.

When Mr. Anderson showed sample footage of Thunderbirds to Lew Grade, the producer was so impressed he commissioned 32 one-hour shows — an unprecedented move in British television.

Mr. Anderson always had an eye on the American market and Thunderbirds was deliberately aimed at appealing not only to young British TV viewers but their counterparts in the United States. The Thunderbirds programmes were eventually to be seen in 47 countries.

Many of the techniques used during filming were developed by Mr. Anderson and his team of engineers.

His then second wife, Sylvia, played a key role in directing the action as well as providing the voice of Lady Penelope. 

Mr. Anderson always said his favourite puppet from the series was Lady Penelope’s butler, Parker.

Among his later shows was Space 1999 in which he used actors in the main roles. But he was never to enjoy the same level of success in later life as Thunderbirds had delivered.

Mr. Anderson had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since 2010.

To view an interview with Gerry Anderson, click here.

To see an excerpt from The Gerry Anderson Story, click here.

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