R.I.P: Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds TV show creator)

Buzz Bumble

Furry Ewok
He wasn't well known in America, but some of the original Star Wars special effects crew started out on Gerry Anderson's shows.

Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds puppet series, dies

Gerry Anderson, British creator of the hit Thunderbirds TV show, has died at age 83.

Anderson's son Jamie said his father died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday. In a message posted on his website, Jamie Anderson said his father was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition had worsened "quite dramatically" over the past six months.

Gerry Anderson's television career launched in the 1950s. In addition to Thunderbirds, the popular sci-fi hit which aired in the 1960s, Anderson also created hit TV shows Stingray and Captain Scarlet.

In recent years, Gerry Anderson and his son had become active supporters of Britain's Alzheimer's Society.

Gerry Anderson is survived by his wife, son Jerry, and three other children.


Gerry Anderson created some great UK televisions shows over the years, mainly children's shows with his puppets (Marionation), but also a few live-action shows, including, among others:
  • Supercar
  • Fireball XL5
  • Stingray
  • Thunderbirds
  • Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons
  • Joe 90
  • Space: 1999
  • Terrahawks


Dark Lord of the Typos
Thanks for sharing Buzz. I picked up the Thunderbirds movies on dvd a couple years ago, and enjoyed watching them and the bonus documentaries. Those have been my only exposure to his work, so far.

Buzz Bumble

Furry Ewok
I hope by "movies" you're not including the American-ised live-action movie released in 2005 ... that's complete rubbish! :(

The real Thunderbirds (a TV series and two movies, from memory) uses puppets and models, and the effects amazing when you realise it was done in the 1960s for children's TV. It was the inspiration for the rather tacky Team America movie and one section in a parody episode of Stargate SG-1. The Japanese also made an animated series called Thunderbirds 2086, but I've never seen that. There was even a parody stage show, which I also haven't seen.

Thunderbirds and Stingray are probably the two most popular. Then it's Joe 90, Supercar, and Captain Scarlet (which is a little weird). Space: 1999 was one of his few live-action shows (starring Martin Landau) and is okay-ish in an early 1970s sci-fi way (again the special effects models are great), but the rest of the shows aren't that good.

Gerry Anderson got stereo-typed into the puppet shows. They weren't really what he wanted to do. He wanted to do live-action, but the management kept pushing him into the puppet shows. He was the George Lucas of the 1960s UK children's shows and with his team he created filming and special effects techniques that are still used.

There have been rumours of a new Thunderbirds TV show using CGI instead of puppets (there's a promo trailer on YouTube) , but apart from an announcement of a deal back at the start of 2011, nothing's been heard of it. There was a new Captain Scarlet made though using CGI.

I've got a few of the toys (more recent releases, not the originals unfortunately) and books, including a cross-section book similar to the Star Wars ones.