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Gerry Anderson: Creator of Thunderbirds

Updated on February 27, 2017
Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson | Source

Gerry Anderson: Thunderbirds and More!

For any youngster growing up in the UK in the 1960s, Gerry Anderson's TV shows, such as Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Thunderbirds were a staple of British television and have now gone on to enjoy cult status among those of a certain age.

Although Anderson had created several puppet shows before these (such as Torchy the Battery Boy and Four Feather Falls), it is his science fiction adventure shows for which he will be best remembered.

In the 1970s, his legacy continued with some fabulous live action series, including UFO and Space:1999, but my childhood memories remain with his classic puppet or Supermarionation shows from the 1960s.


Gerry Anderson: 1929-2012

Thank you, sir. You fueled the imaginations of a generation!

Introducing Gerry Anderson: An Interview With Derek Jameson

Creator of Thunderbirds, Stingray & Captain Scarlet etc.

The Complete Gerry Anderson
The Complete Gerry Anderson

Those of us fortunate enough to have caught Mr. Anderson's shows during their original runs, will especially enjoy this book: a wonderful listing, episode by episode, of all of his wonderful work. There are facts, photos and a few surprises. A must for fans of Gerry Anderson's productions.

 

Supercar: 1961-1962

This was Gerry Anderson's first science fiction series: Supercar. Adventures abounded with this vehicle that could travel on land, in the air or under the sea.

The pilot was a groovy guy called Mike Mercury, who traveled with Jimmy Gibson, a young kid in search of adventure.

Supercar was continually modified for specific missions by its creators Professor Popkiss and Dr. Beaker. Now, there's a couple of names you won't forget in a hurry!

Fireball XL5 - 1962-1963: The Opening and Closing Titles

Supervised by the World Space Patrol, Fireball XL5 was part of the fleet of interplanetary rockets protecting Sector 25 of the Solar System from alien invasion.

Memories of watching this series as a youngster come flooding back as I viewed the video here. Not only was the show progressive for its time, but it also included one of the most hummable of signature tunes.

Television heaven was watching the adventures of Commander Steve Zodiac and his crew consisting of Venus, Professor Matic and Robert the Robot, XL5's mechanical co-pilot.

Stingray: 1964-1965

Loud and explosive, the calling card of future Gerry Anderson productions, Stingray blasted its way onto television screens in 1964.

Exploring the oceans and keeping the world safe from a variety of perils, Captain Troy Tempest piloted the super submarine Stingray and ran into exciting adventures each week, accompanied by his trusty co-pilot Phones. Joining them on many of their missions was the mute Marina, a beautiful princess from the undersea city of Pacifica,

As the narrator commented at the beginning of each episode: Anything can happen in the next half hour! And it quite often did.

Thunderbirds: 1965-1966

Probably my favourite among the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows was Thunderbirds. No doubt, the best loved of all his series, each show was a television epic focusing on the adventures of International Rescue and its Thunderbirds.

Headed by Jeff Tracey, his five sons undertook their weekly adventures from a secret base hidden in the Pacific. Their mission was to save lives and avert various action packed disasters, while keeping their identity secret from curious onlookers. The action was tense, the explosions were loud and the missions seemingly impossible.

Each week, these super heroes were ably assisted by a small, but effective team. Brains, the science engineer and London agent, Lady Penelope, replete with a pink Rolls Royce and Cockney chauffeur, Parker.

Of course, as with all of Anderson's shows, there was a villain. He came in the form of The Hood, a ruthless, bald-headed mastermind intent on stealing the Thunderbirds. Great Boy's Own stuff and complete with one of the most memorable signature tunes too.

Captain Scarlet: 1967-1968

More out of this world adventures followed in Gerry Anderson's next offering: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Set in 2068, Spectrum had become the world security organisation with a team of agents each named for a specific colour. Captain Scarlet was our indestructible hero, saving the Earth each week from the evil unseen Mysterons who were bent on destroying the planet through a series of terrorist acts.

The villain of the piece was Captain Black, now controlled by The Mysterons as their agent on Earth. Capable of recreating objects and people, The Mysterons tried the same technique on Captain Scarlet, but their plan backfired. Because Scarlet was still alive when he was processed, he instead became indestructible and thereafter The Mysterons' mortal enemy.

Can you tell that I loved watching these shows? Even over forty years later, I can still remember the details! This is the voice of the Mysterons...we know that you can hear us Earthmen...

Joe 90: 1968-1969

If it weren't for the fact that our hero here is a puppet, nowadays the producers of this next show would probably be prosecuted for child endangerment! Joe 90 was a 9-year-old boy who was given amazing powers by a pair of special glasses given to him by his adoptive father.

Having developed a method of transferring special brain patterns, (a machine by the name of BIG RAT), his father could implant these in his son so that Joe could assume the skills and personality of any professional, such as a top scientist, surgeon or pilot. Shielded by his young and unsuspecting appearance, he became an agent for the World Intelligence Network, saving the day on a weekly basis.

The Gerry Anderson Poll - Choose Your Favourite!

Which of the puppet shows featured here is your favourite?

See results

What Are Your Memories of Gerry's Shows?

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    • profile image

      Mark 2 years ago

      Thunderbirds was essential early evening viewing when I was a kid. All the family watched it.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      When I was a child in the late 1960s, a local tv channel in the US during the winter holiday break. So, they'd have several days of the shows in a row. I remember being mesmerized by how the puppets moved around. It seemed unreal (well, I guess it was...LOL)

    • N376 profile image

      N376 2 years ago

      Thunderbirds was such a brilliant show.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Although I have never seen any of Gerry Anderson's Shows, I sure enjoyed reading about them and your memories of them.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      Gerry Anderson was such a big part of teatime television when I was a child. Such a pity there aren't more people like him around these days. I always loved the fact you could see the strings!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 4 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I was so sad to see that Gerry Anderson had passed away. He had an amazing talent when it came to puppetry, and an amazing vision of a high tech future. As a small boy I vaguely remember watching Four Feather Falls, and Torchy The Battery Boy, also Twizzle, and then of course watched all the others, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray etc. Thunderbirds is by far his best known creation internationally, and at least his legacy will live on in the hearts of those of us who grew up with these wonderful shows.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 4 years ago from Cheshire UK

      What an amazing tribute to the man who created so many programmes which kept me enthralled in my childhood and if I am honest even today with the re-runs. Saddened by the news of his death yesterday as we have lost one of the greatest storytellers and a visionary in terms of television programmes.

    • TimTam LM profile image

      TimTam LM 4 years ago

      The Thunderbirds ruled my life as a kid. I had models of T-2 and T-1 and a Matchbox Lady P's Roller.

      Sigh. If only life were so clear-cut today. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I know nothing about this gentleman, but what impressed me was your delight from your childhood memories of him and his creations. Thanks for sharing.

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago

      Never heard about it before

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      My dad was a huge fan of the Thunderbirds! He wasn't alone, I am sure. :)

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I suspect 90% of males who were alive in the UK Sixties have just said "This is the voice of ..."

      Angel Blessed for a beautiful tone and some great memories.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Captain Scarlet and Space 1999, I was a big fan of both of these Gerry Anderson's show

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Thanks for introducing me to Gerry Anderson and his 'adventurous' shows. He's new to me, but probably not to my daughter!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      OMG I had forgotten about the Thunderbirds!, I just loved them. :) Used to think that I wanted a house with a pool that opened just like theirs :)

      Now after watching so many movies with digitally made effects, I think the Thunderbirds had the best effects considering the available technology they had back then.