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Gerry & Sylvia Anderson

Gerry & Sylvia Anderson


Gerry Anderson, MBE (born Gerald Alexander Abrahams; 14 April 1929 - 26 December 2012) was an English television and film producer, director, writer and occasional voice artist. He was known for his futuristic television programmes made in collaboration with his wife Sylvia.

Anderson's first television production was the 1957 Roberta Leigh children's series The Adventures of Twizzle. Supercar (1961-62) and Fireball XL5 (1962) followed later, both series breaking into the US television market in the early 1960s. In the mid-1960s the Andersons produced their most successful series, Thunderbirds. Other television productions of the 1960s include Stingray and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

Gerry Anderson also wrote and produced several feature films whose box office performance was unexceptional. Following a shift towards live action productions in the 1970s, he had a long and successful association with media impresario Lew Grade and Grade's company ITC, continuing until the second series of Space: 1999.

Anderson Sylvia Anderson (née Thomas) was born in Camberwell, London in March 1927. Her father was a boxer and her mother a dressmaker. After graduating from the London School of Economics with a degree in sociology and political science, she became a social worker. She eventually became a British television and film producer, writer and voice actress, and is well known for her collaborations with Gerry Anderson, her third husband between 1960 and 1981.

During the production of Thunderbirds, the Andersons' marriage began to come under increasing strain increased by the failure of the feature film which was a box office flop. The Andersons' creative partnership ended when their marriage broke down during the production of the first series of Space: 1999 in 1975. Gerry announced his intention to separate on the evening of the wrap party, following which Sylvia ceased her involvement with the company. In later interviews, Gerry Anderson said that he considered divorce as early as 1966, but this was halted when Sylvia announced that she was pregnant. Their son, Gerry Anderson Jr., was born in July 1967. The Andersons eventually divorced at the start of the 1980s following a five-year separation.

In 1983, she published a novel titled Love and Hisses and in 1994, she reprised her voice role as Lady Penelope for an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. She worked as a London-based talent scout for HBO for 30 years. Her autobiography, Yes M'Lady, was first published in 1991; in 2007, it was re-published as My FAB Years with new material to bring it up to date with the latest developments in her life, such as her role as a production consultant for the 2004 live-action film adaptation of Thunderbirds. Of the film, Anderson commented
"I'm personally thrilled that the production team have paid us the great compliment of bringing to life our original concept for the big screen.If we had made it ourselves (and we have had over 30 years to do it!) we could not have improved on this new version. It is a great tribute to the original creative team who inspired the movie all those years ago. It was a personal thrill for me to see my characters come to life on the big screen."
My FAB Years was re-released as a spoken CD, narrated by Anderson, in 2010.

4falls In 2015, Sylvia travelled to Italy to receive a Pulcinella Award in recognition of her career in television production. Sylvia Anderson sadly died after a short illness in March of 2016 twelve days before her 89th birthday.


In the early 1960s, the Andersons co-created the series Thunderbirds, with Sylvia Anderson creating the characters and Gerry concentrating on the production side of the series. As Sylvia was aware that Lew Grade intended to sell the show to American TV networks and wanted to make the show appealing to American audiences, she introduced the "British aristocrat" of Lady Penelope's character, and the "Cockney chauffeur" of Parker. Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, an aristocratic fashionista who was an undercover agent, was to become one of her most popular characters; Anderson both created the character and provided her voice. In addition to serving as co-creator and co-writer on their TV series during the 1960s and early 1970s, Sylvia's primary contribution was character development and costume design. She regularly directed the bi-weekly voice recording sessions, and provided the voices of many female and child characters.

In 1967 production started on a new series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, which saw the advent of more realistic marionettes which, thanks to improvements in electronics allowed the puppets to be built closer to normal human proportions and with miniaturisation of the lip-sync mechanisms. The characters were presented as marionette puppets alongside scale model sets and special effects in a filming technique that the Andersons termed "Supermarionation". This technology incorporated solenoid motors as a means of synchronising the puppet's lip movements with pre-recorded dialogue and was revolutionary at the time.

Joe 90 followed on from Captain Scarlet and was the sixth and final of the Andersons' productions to be made exclusively using the form of marionette puppetry termed "Supermarionation". Their final puppet series, The Secret Service, used this process only in combination with extensive live-action filming. As in the case of its antecedent, Captain Scarlet, the puppets of Joe 90 are of natural proportions as opposed to the more caricatured design of the characters of Thunderbirds.

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Thunderbirds Thunderbirds was inspired by a mining disaster that occurred in West Germany in October 1963. This real-life drama gave Gerry Anderson the idea to create a new programme format about a rescue organisation, which eventually became his most famous and popular series, Thunderbirds (1964-1966). The Andersons scripted a pilot episode, "Trapped in the Sky", and began production. Gerry initially wanted actress Fenella Fielding to perform the voice of Lady Penelope, but Sylvia convinced her husband to let her play the role. Thunderbirds also marked the start of a long professional association with actor Shane Rimmer, who voiced Scott Tracy.

Set in the mid-2060s, Thunderbirds is a follow-up to the earlier Supermarionation productions Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. It follows the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR's secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters are ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR, and his five adult sons, who pilot the Thunderbird machines.

Thunderbirds Thunderbirds began its first run in the United Kingdom on the ITV network in 1965 and has since been broadcast in at least 66 other countries. Periodically repeated, it was adapted for radio in the early 1990s and has influenced many TV programmes and other media. As well as inspiring various merchandising campaigns, the series has been followed by two feature-length film sequels, a live-action film adaptation and a mimed stage show tribute. The second of two TV remakes, the computer-animated Thunderbirds Are Go, premiered in 2015.

Widely considered to be the Andersons' most popular and commercially successful series, Thunderbirds has received particular praise for its effects (directed by Derek Meddings) and musical score (composed by Barry Gray). It is also well remembered for its title sequence, which opens with an often-quoted countdown by actor Peter Dyneley (who voiced the character of Jeff): "5, 4, 3, 2, 1: Thunderbirds Are Go!" A real-life rescue service, the International Rescue Corps, is named after the organisation featured in the series.

Thunderbirds The Thunderbirds series made the Andersons world-famous. The 32-episode series was not initially successful in the United States because it was only given a limited release, although it later became hugely successful in syndication. But it was a major hit with young audiences in the UK, Australia and other countries and retains a huge and dedicated international following that spans several generations.

cj-books-etc are delighted to have a selection of Thunderbird merchandise on offer, so what are you waiting for? The countdown has begun!

The Complete Book Of Thunderbirds

Chris Bentley, Foreword by Gerry Anderson
Published by Carlton, Books, 2005
This is the ultimate guide to this legendary TV series, charting the history of the programme over four decades from inception to its 40th anniversary.
ISBN 1844424545  The Complete Book Of Thunderbirds

Used good
FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Thunderbirds X-Ray Cross-Sections

Alex Pang
Published by Oxford for M&S, 2004
Features cut away artwork generated by computer software and includes stills from the feature film showing the main characters and vehicles in action.
MPN M6834685S  Thunderbirds X-Ray Cross-Sections

Used good
FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Aquanaut Thunderbird 4 - Gordon Tracy

From KING, 1992
100 above average sized pieces
Puzzle can be made up in the box on a special raised card platform
Finished size 30.5cm x 21.5cm
MPN 8710125801407  Thunderbirds - Gordon Tracy

Used very good
FREE delivery for UK addresses.

Pilot Thunderbird 2 - Virgil Tracy

From KING, 1992
100 above average sized pieces
Puzzle can be made up in the box on a special raised card platform Finished size 30.5cm x 21.5cm
MPN 8710125801407  Thunderbirds - Virgil Tracy

Used very good
FREE delivery for UK addresses.

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