Strange New Worlds Issue 8 - Apr/May 1993
A Thunderbirds History
The remarkable husband and wife team of Gerry and Sylvia
Anderson are unique among the world's fantasy film producers. They have produced ten
puppet action series as well as three live action drama programs. As a young TV producer,
Gerry realized the untapped fantasy potential of puppetry on the small screen.
"Thunderbirds" premiered in England in 1965. This was the latest in the
Anderson line of childrens adventure shows. The action of this series centered
around International Rescue - a secret organization always on the alert for trouble, ready
to help save humanity in the year 2063. Founded by ex-astronaut and erstwhile millionaire
Jeff Tracy, International Rescue was staffed by his five sons. The backbone of this
fighting force is its five super-secret craft . . . the Thunderbirds! From adventures in
space,to the sewers of New York, by way of the pyramids of Egypt and the polar wastes, the
International Rescue team risked all in their endeavor to save life and limb -- and
entertained millions in the process.
Aiding the Tracys was British agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward. In her
incredible pink Rolls Royce, Fab 1, she countered each threat with typical English charm
and aplomb. As a single character she had her own color strip in TV-21 before the
"Thunderbirds" series aired.
The show starred puppets in Gerry Andersons trademark Supermarionation,
which he had perfected in his previous shows "Supercar," "Fireball
XL-5," and "Stingray." Early in his career Anderson solved the vexing
problem of how to synchronize the film soundtrack with the puppet's movements. This was
achieved by recording the dialogue via the electronics in the puppets' heads.
"Thunderbirds" was instantly popular. Demand for Thunderbird merchandise in
England was overpowering. The craze even overswept that of the Daleks, who were then at
the peak of their popularity. 32 hour-long episodes of "Thunderbirds" were
produced. "Thunderbirds" formed the cornerstone of the Anderson Empire,
realizing more profit from that show than from anything else. Development continued into
the cinema with two full-length color feature films Thunderbirds Are Go! and Thunderbird
Also read on this site, Mark's:
Confessions of a Thunderbirds Collector
Thunderbirds Buyer's Guide