“ Gerry Anderson, who has died aged 83 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was the main mover behind a number of puppet series commissioned by Lew Grade’s Independent Television Corporation. They made the company a fortune from the space age: perhaps the best known was Thunderbirds (1965-66), and among the others were Fireball XL5 (1962-63), Stingray (1964) and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68).
Factoid: Thunderbirds hero Jeff Tracy and
his sons John, Scott, Virgil, Alan and Gordon were all
named after early American astronauts
“ The pre-ITV world of the early 50s had been one of puppets such as Muffin the Mule and the Flowerpot Men, a mirror for a Britain on extremely visible strings. Rocket men, on BBC radio, Radio Luxembourg and in the Eagle comic, meant Dan Dare and Jet Morgan – recycled Biggles and Battle of Britain pilots. After Anderson, they were destined for the galactic dole queue, just as Eagle’s demise was hastened by the arrival of Anderson spin-offs such as TV Century 21 (1965-71). “Everything we did,” Anderson told his biographers Simon Archer and Marcus Hearn, in What Made Thunderbirds Go! (2002), “was in an endeavour to sell to America”, and Grade spectacularly achieved that with Fireball XL5, a US network sale to NBC. Thunderbirds, shown across the world and more than a dozen times on British TV, is the show that defines the Anderson achievement, yet never attracted a US network… ” / Continued at Guardian Online
‘Anything can happen in the next half hour’
“ Anderson’s third series in Supermarionation brought a new level of emotional literacy to the genre, albeit one difficult to define. Gradually the move had been made and puppetry was continuing to move toward greater realism, but let’s not get this out of proportion; it was not the end of innocence. Puppetry of the Gerry Anderson variety, despite being set in an imaginary future began to appear more relevant at a deeper level for the audience of the day. The transaction in any learning process depends upon emotional involvement and increasingly the puppet series got you involved… ” / Continued at Cult Britannia