Thunderbirds

Tagged: Film | TV

UK animated-puppet tv series (1965-1966). An AP Films Production for ATV/ITC. Created Sylvia and Gerry Anderson. Produced by Gerry Anderson (season 1), Reg Hill (season 2). Writers included Dennis Spooner, Alan Fennell, Alan Pattillo. Directors included David Lane, David Elliott, Desmond Saunders, Pattillo. Model effects supervised by Derek Meddings. 2 seasons, 32 50-minute episodes (re-edited in the USA so that each episode occupied two half-hour timeslots). Colour.

This animated puppet series for children was one of the most elaborate (and perhaps the best-loved) of all such Gerry and Sylvia Anderson productions, and the first designed for a one-hour timeslot. The fourth of their SuperMarionation shows to be sf, it involved International Rescue: based on a secret Pacific Island, this was a future air-, space- and undersea-rescue service which utilized a variety of spectacular vehicles (among them a Spaceship, a Space Station, a submersible operating Under the Sea and a heavily armed pink Rolls-Royce) and was run by the Tracy family with the help of Lady Penelope, their glamorous London assistant, Parker, her Cockney chauffeur, and Brains, a stuttering bespectacled genius responsible for the many Inventions that powered International Rescue.

Two feature-film spin-offs, also with animated puppets, were Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird Six (1968). The popularity of Thunderbirds also led to various Ties, including Comics (see Dan Abnett; Ron Turner) and five novelizations by John Jennison (whom see for details) writing as John Theydon. A 1990s Radio version was edited from the original television tapes for broadcast by BBC Radio 5. Scrapping the much-loved SuperMarionation in favour of live-action for the later film Thunderbirds (2004) led to both critical and commercial failure. [PN/JB/DRL]

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