Gerry Anderson R.I.P

December 28, 2012

Thunderbirds Are GO! Gerry Anderson has gone. He was 83.

Gerry Anderson with Troy Tempest puppet from Stingray

Along with his then wife Sylvia, he created some fantastic shows, the following which those of us of a certain vintage would go misty-eyed at the mere mention of: Fireball XL5; Joe 90; Stingray; Captain Scarlet; UFO; Space 1999 and of course Thunderbirds.

My love with Anderson’s Supermarionation started when I first watched an episode of Thunderbirds as a young ‘un: the Tracy family; Tracy Island; Brains; Tin-Tin; Lady Penelope, and Parker. Plus the hooded claw: proof that bald people with big eyebrows that meet in the middle are bad news (and look like Yul Brynner).

The sperm and egg that created me weren’t even on nodding terms when Fireball XL5 came on the TV, so I don’t know about that show, but I do remember Joe 90 with his cool specs and the spinning machine he sat in. The Intro is so 60s psychedelic and groovy it hurts.

Then there’s Captain scarlet who’s indestructible. There are also five fighter pilots called angels, led by Destiny who help Captain Scarlet fight the Mysterons and Captain Black. With dark shadows under the eyes and a half-day stubble, Captain Black resembles a clubber after a hard weekend’s rave.

Stingray is an underwater delight, with James Garner, Ernest Borgnine and Angelina Jolie… err, I mean Troy Tempest, Phones and Marina, the mute, underwater breathing girl. The theme at the start of the show is a real heart pumper with those frantic drums (“Anything can happen in the next half hour!”) and the end theme is reassuringly cheesy.

His live action efforts were also good value. UFO featured a cracking theme tune and the fabulous Jensen Interceptor driven by Edward Straker. The other stand out visual feature for me was the purple-haired female agents of SHADO. As to the question of why some of the crew wore string vests as uniforms, you tell me, ladies and gentlemen. I haven’t a Scooby Doo…

Space 1999 was where I first saw husband and wife team Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. I later discovered they were in Mission Impossible (the original TV show, not the Tom Cruise films. Obviously). That space station always seemed to have a big wobble every week, slamming the crew against the walls: a bit like Star Trek, really.

What clever people Mr and Mrs Anderson were. What wonderful entertainment they created for us. What a shame he’s now gone.

R.I.P, Mr Anderson. F.A.B.



  1. Captain Scarlet was my favourite. Lots of BBC2 repeats back in the 80s.

    • Ah, was it BBC that showed those repeats. I thought it was ITV for some reason.

      I find it hard to pick a favourite, as they all had great features. I would still say Thunderbirds first, at a push, then Stingray. Captain Scarlet would be third and after that, Joe 90.

  2. I only remember seeing the Thunderbirds and Joe 90 (not even sure if the others got onto New Zealand TV at all or if it was that we saw so little TV as kids)
    We especially loved Joe 90 and followed the adventures religiously (actually I was young enough to think they were all real LOL).
    R.I.P. Gerry Anderson. Thank you for sharing your amazing imagination.

    • I thought they were brilliant puppets because they had real hands! Of course as a grown up you know they used shots of real hands whenever something had to be picked up, but why would you need to know this as a child? It was truly magical stuff.

  3. I’m going to have to go find Captain Scarlet, haven’t thought of that show in years.

    • I hadn’t either until I heard of Gerry Anderson’s death, then I decided to do a little research for this post. Joe 90 was even further away from my thoughts than Captain Scarlet. I used to have a Joe 90 annual when I was a young ‘un. I wish I’d kept it.

  4. With the exception of the four-note Mysteron motif , Gray generally restricted his use of electronic synthesisers, including an Ondes Martenot , to space sequences, preferring traditional instruments for Earth -bound action.

    • That would make perfect sense, because then, you’d be able to differentiate in your subconscious the various areas of the show.

      Thanks for your comment. You ended up in the spam folder for some reason. It would be good to see you on this blog again.

  5. The puppets created by Gerry Anderson brought to life a world where the Earth’s only defence against the Mysterons was the indestructible Captain Scarlet and his colleagues at Spectrum.

    • And I’m super grateful for it!

      Welcome to my blog. I don’t know why you ended up in the spam box, but you can come again.

  6. Used to love Thunderbirds. I always though Joe 90 was a geek, but nowadays that style is considered ‘cool’. Terrahawks was another favourite…

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