Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson dies, age 83

Bill Chappell, NPR:

Gerry Anderson, the man who along with his wife Sylvia created the cult-favorite TV series Thunderbirds in the 1960s, has died, the BBC reports. Anderson’s work was honored by a special set of moving-image stamps in Britain last year; he had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, which he spoke out against this past summer.

Thunderbirds, the sci-fi TV show featuring “Supermarionation” puppets, was hugely popular in its day and remains a beloved favorite to generations of fans, along with other Anderson creations like Stingray and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. The shows were aimed at kids, but adults enjoyed them too, and those who grew up with them love them to this day.

I fully admit that the Thunderbirds craze really passed me by. But I was a huge fan of Anderson’s later work: My first exposure to Anderson was Space: 1999, his final collaboration with ITC.

Space: 1999 was a live-action SF show featuring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, set on base on the surface of the Moon, which had improbably left Earth’s orbit and gone wandering through the stars. I watched the show religiously as a young grade schooler when it was in first-run syndication on American TV. (It helped that my mom loved the show too.) Begged for the toys, too. Many an afternoon was spent flying my Eagle transporter around the back yard.

  • I want to disparage Anderson’s work more than I actually can, because the majority of the shows he did were indeed for kids, including Space: 1999, an sf show that indulged itself far more in fiction than in science.

    In all, Gerry Anderson’s resume constitutes a great volume of adventure fiction for kids who could get behind the allure of high technology, the mystery of the unknown, and the foibles of human nature. That works.

  • The eagle transporter was the best spaceship ever created. That just there, is a full stop (period)

  • @mos. do you actually mean “disparage”?

    • Yes. I was fifteen, and I watched Space: 1999 because it was visually beautiful… despite its ridiculous premise, unlikely astrophysics, and depiction of humans as helpless victims of any alien loon they ran across. I couldn’t entirely hate it because there wasn’t much else out there at the time.

      The older marionette series were great, though.

  • DT

    So much good and bad, I still have a huge soft spot for Space 1999, Dragon’s Domain still freaks me the fuck out.

    UFO is still one of my favorite SciFi from he 70s, surprisingly dark, great design aesthetic (chicks in fishnet … what?).

  • Had the Space 1999 toys as well. Loved the show as a kid. Looking bad, it was as horribly put together as Star Trek and CHIPS