Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson dies aged 83

Gerry Anderson, who pioneered use of modified puppets, best known for 1960s British TV show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 5:41am


Gerry Anderson

British television and film producer Gerry Anderson, best known as the creator of the shuffling puppets of the Thunderbirds, has died at the age of 83.

Anderson, whose credits also included the puppet shows Captain Scarlet and Joe 90, had suffered for several years with dementia and died in his sleep, his son, Jamie Anderson, announced on Wednesday.

In a website posting, the younger Anderson included a tribute written by his father's fan club, known as Fanderson. Nick Williams, chairman of the club, said: "To those who met him, Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man. His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry's legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world."

Gerald Alexander Anderson, famous for the use of "supermarionation" - the use of modified puppets - was born in 1929 in Hampstead, north London, and began his career as a film trainee at the UK Ministry of Information before starting work at Gainsborough Pictures. He later set up AP Films with some friends.

With commissions thin on the ground Anderson and his team were eager to produce their first puppet show The Adventures Of Twizzle. Others including Torchy The Battery Boy, and Supercar followed. Success continued with Fireball XL5 and Stingray.

But it was Thunderbirds, filmed on the Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire, west of London, and first broadcast in 1965 that made his name. With the catchphrase "Thunderbirds are go!", the programme revolved around International Rescue, a secret emergency service run by the Tracy family aided by London agent Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker.

In 1966, Thunderbirds was made into a major feature film for United Artists, Thunderbirds Are Go, which was followed by a sequel, Thunderbird 6.

Anderson moved towards live action productions in the 1970s, producing Space: 1999. In the 1980s, a burst of nostalgia for his supermarionation series led to the commission of new productions, including a remake of Captain Scarlet. New Captain Scarlet, a computer-generated re-imagining of the 1967 series, premiered on ITV in the UK in 2005.

Anderson was a one-of-a kind film and television producer, who had far-reaching influence, according to his fan club's dedication. "Anderson's unique style of filmmaking influenced the imaginations and careers of countless creatives that succeeded him, and his productions continue to be shown," it read.

The producer was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition had deteriorated over the past six months. He had moved into a care home in October. Gerry Anderson leaves three children from former marriages, Joy, Linda and Gerry Junior, as well as his son Jamie and widow Mary.