Gerry Anderson R.I.P. (1929-2012)
It is with a heavy heart that we at FTN report on the sad passing of Gerry Anderson, the creator of such classic children’s television programmes such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Space 1999, on December 26th, 2012.
Gerry Anderson first garnered success in the early years of television while he was working on Torchy, the Battery Boy in 1957. However, it was not until 1961 with Supercar, that he had his first creation. Supercar told the story of a car that could fly in the sky, drive on a road and also become a submarine. It was also the first time that he was able to use puppetry to tell his own story.
The following year, in 1962, Gerry created the science fiction show Fireball XL-V. a puppetry show involving the adventures of Col. Steve Zodiac, Doctor Venus, Lt. Ninety and Robert the Robot (which was voiced by Gerry Anderson). Though colour television was now widely used, Gerry wanted this show to be broadcast in black in white as it was set in space and so that it would hide the wires and add to the realism.
In 1963, following on from the success of his previous works, Gerry created a sea-going spectacular with Stingray. This was set underwater with Stingray being a submarine piloted by Cpt. Troy Tempest and Lt. George “Phones” Sheridan and also helped out by Marina, a mute girl from an underwater world.
However, it was in 1965 that Gerry Anderson scored perhaps his biggest success with Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds, various craft piloted by the Tracy brothers and assisted by their father Jeff Tracy, their London Agent and friend Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and not forgetting their eccentric inventor Brains, Thunderbirds was an international success. So successful that it spawned two big screen adaptions whilst still being shown on television.
With repeated viewings on television for the next three decades and a very successful toy and merchandise line, Thunderbirds was held in high regard by both young and old fans. Such was its popularity that Blue Peter, another long-standing children’s show, released a video demonstrating how to build your very own Tracy Island, the secret location of International Rescue and base to the Thunderbird vehicles. (Part 1 here and Part 2 here).
The 1960s continued to be extremely successful for Gerry Anderson with the creation of Captain Scarlet and Joe 90. Both television shows were again incredibly successful and fans were once again captivated by the characters and the vehicles.
Sadly, by the end of the 1960s, viewers were losing interest in puppetry and required more grounded shows. Gerry then subsequently created UFO and later in the 1970s, Space 1999. Both television series involved ‘real’ actors, albeit backed by models and space going vehicles. Both series were very successful but also incredibly expensive to make and as result were soon cancelled.
By the 1980s, Gerry Anderson return to puppetry with Terrahawks, a science fiction children’s show – kids (and young adults) still recall the maniacal laugh of Zelda, the show’s most evil villain (check it out here).
After a break of nearly ten years, Gerry Anderson returned to our screen with the live action Space Precinct, a television show set in the near future and revolving around police officers hunting down dangerous criminals.
Sadly, this was the last of Gerry Anderson’s creations. Although involved with the updated Captain Scarlet cartoon series, Gerry never created another television show and refused to be involved with the disastrous big screen flop of Thunderbirds Are Go.
In a career spanning over fifty years in television, and with younger fans enjoying his classic shows thanks to continual repeats, the works of Gerry Anderson will never be forgotten. For filling our lives with wonder and hope through your incredible characters and vehicles, we at FTN pay our deepest respects to Gerry Anderson; we will miss you greatly.