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Gerry Anderson - Supermarionator

Action drama... with strings attached

Main image of Gerry Anderson - Supermarionator

The classic children's TV created by husband and wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson from the 1950s on has attracted an international fan base spanning three generations. But series like Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet did more than redefine the potential of puppet-based shows; they created a merchandising empire with a legacy as strong as the productions from which it sprang.

From the crude early puppet productions, including The Adventures of Twizzle and Four Feather Falls, to the live-action dramas UFO and Space: 1999 in the early 1970s, the couple created a body of work that has withstood the changing fashions of TV production - a legacy unmatched in UK broadcasting history.

At the height of their success, the Andersons also made two Thunderbirds feature films and published books and records related to their shows. However, the most important production was a comic tie-in, TV Century 21. At its mid-60s height it sold 1,300,000 copies a week in partnership with its sister title Lady Penelope, a publishing record that remains unbroken.

Forty years on, and new merchandise is still appearing in toy shops around the globe, in the form of action figures, models, DVDs, soundtrack CDs... Original puppets fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction and the catch phrase from Thunderbirds, 'FAB', has entered into popular use.

Thunderbirds is also distinguished by one of the most familiar theme tunes of any UK TV show. Its 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... countdown crescendo still thrills audiences after some four decades.

Anthony Clark

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Adventures of Twizzle, The (1957-62)

Adventures of Twizzle, The (1957-62)

Children's puppet series from the creator of Thunderbirds

Thumbnail image of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68)

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68)

Indestructible Supermarionation sci-fi from Gerry Anderson

Thumbnail image of Fireball XL5 (1962-63)

Fireball XL5 (1962-63)

Puppet drama, forerunner to Thunderbirds

Thumbnail image of Four Feather Falls (1960)

Four Feather Falls (1960)

String puppet series with cowboy Tex and his talking horse and dog

Thumbnail image of Joe 90 (1968-69)

Joe 90 (1968-69)

Puppet adventures of a 9 year-old secret agent

Thumbnail image of Space: 1999 (1975-77)

Space: 1999 (1975-77)

Moon-set science fiction drama

Thumbnail image of Stingray (1964-65)

Stingray (1964-65)

Undersea puppet adventures of the original yellow submarine

Thumbnail image of Thunderbirds (1965-66)

Thunderbirds (1965-66)

F.A.B. adventures of International Rescue

Thumbnail image of U.F.O. (1970-71)

U.F.O. (1970-71)

A mysterious underground organisation defends Earth from alien invasion

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