Gerry Anderson MBE, sadly died December 26, 2012. Today we reveal our Gerry Anderson MBE top 10. Lest we forget Thunderbirds became so popular the British toy manufacturer Matchbox were unable to keep up with the demand for the Tracy Island playset and needed Blue Peter to come to the rescue with double sided sticky tape! So here are our memories of some of his greatest creations
Thunderbirds Are Go!!! In the year 2063, Jeff Tracy and his sons made up the International Rescue team. Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John (namesakes of the first five Americans in space) each piloted a stealthy, gadget-equipped craft designed by shy genius Brains and his female assistant Tin Tin. www.skooldays.com/categories/saturday/sa1076.htm and www.skooldays.com/blog/thunderbirds/
They struck gold with their use of “Supermarionation,” plastic puppets operated by very fine wires. Equipped with an electronic brain, the puppets’ eyes could slide sideways and blink, while their lips could move in sync with a prerecorded soundtrack. For a final touch of “realism,” photographs of real eyes were affixed to the puppets’ faces. www.skooldays.com/categories/saturday/sa1245.htm
The Anderson’s in the 60’s had everything Sci-fi. Through their patented “Supermarionation” puppetry process, they brought the futuristic delights of Supercar, Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds and others to kids worldwide. But in 1970, the puppeteering duo decided to go live-action for a more adult-oriented sci-fi show, the cult classic UFO. www.skooldays.com/categories/primetime/pt1260.htm and www.skooldays.com/blog/ufo-series/
Fireball XL-5 used Sylvia and Gerry Anderson’s “Supermarionation” process, which allowed a puppeteer to manipulate parts of a marionette with strings and electronics. The effect was a more realistic movement for the puppets, which was only slightly undercut by the fact that their heads were too big for their bodies.
In the year 2020, NASA’s Headquarters on Mars were destroyed by androids from the planet Guk, in the galaxy of Alpha Centauri. The androids and their wrinkled hag of a leader, Zelda, have designs on the earth, hoping to wipe out the humans and rule in their stead. www.skooldays.com/categories/saturday/sa1306.htm
The show’s special effects director Brian Johnson had in fact previously worked on both Thunderbirds (as Brian Johncock) and 2001.He was clearly influenced by the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It suspected that the Eagle spacecraft design influenced the spaceship designs of Star Wars and other science fiction films and television series
www.skooldays.com/blog/space-1999-eagle-transporter and www.skooldays.com/blog/space-1999
Supercar was the first of Gerry Anderson’s shows to feature “Supermarionation.” This style of puppetry, developed by Anderson, featured eighteen-inch-high marionettes that blinked and moved their mouths and eyes. Anderson developed a way to synchronize the dialogue and the lip movement of the marionettes, giving them more life-like qualities than ever before. He solved the problem of unrealistic walking by having the characters spend most of their time seated in the Supercar. www.skooldays.com/categories/saturday/sa1224.htm
8. Joe 90
Joe 90 was a futuristic children’s TV series about a boy secret agent that ran on British independent television between 1968 and 1969. It was the brainchild of Gerry Anderson, who together with his wife Sylvia produced a string of similar TV programmes in what he called Supermarionation. www.skooldays.com/blog/joe-90-tv-theme and www.skooldays.com/blog/joe-90-1968-annual
Gerry Anderson launched his third “Supermarionation” program, which was set under water. Stingray was an atomic submarine with an impressive arsenal of missles. The craft was piloted by Troy Tempest, who worked for the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP) in order to battle Titan, the evil ruler of Titanica. www.skooldays.com/categories/saturday/sa1217.htm
Thunderbird 6 was the 1968 British science-fiction movie written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by Century 21 Cinema. A sequel to 1966’s Thunderbirds Are Go, it was the second film to be adapted from the 1960s television series Thunderbirds.
We hope you enjoyed our top 10. Feel free to leave your memories in the comment area below Bio: Gerry Anderson, MBE was an English publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for his futuristic television programmes, particularly those involving combined scale models and special effects with marionette puppet characters in a filming process that the Andersons termed “Supermarionation”.