Another icon of my childhood bites the dust. Gerry Anderson, dead at 83

Thunderbirds, Fireball XL 5, Stingray and tons of other shows creator, Gerry Anderson has died from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. I remember watching his shows growing up, fron the puppet shows like Supercar et al. to the live action shows like UFO and Space 1999. He provided us with hours of entertainment, not always premium quality, but always enjoyable… He will be missed.

He created one of my first childhood crushes: Marina!

That’s too bad, but 83 years isn’t too bad a run. I just finished (seriously, about three hours ago) watching all of UFO and revived an 18-month-old thread about it. I hadn’t actually checked if Gerry Anderson was still alive, although a lot of the main cast has passed on by now.

As I see this thread, it rests right above the UFO thread.

I wasn’t familiar with his work, but I just saw a report on BBC America including some clips. Pretty amazing stuff, especially for the era he worked in!

Gerry Anderson is go!

I loved “Supercar” as a kid. I have the complete series on DVD. I’ll have to watch a few this week in his honor.


This is also my attitude to deaths late in life.

When I was a kid I used to watch:
Joe 90
Space 1999
Captain Scarlet
and most recently the new CGI Captain Scarlet

The guy helped shape my entire childhood!

From the UFO thread:

Any thoughts to share here? Did anyone else ever construct a science-fiction universe that paid such attention to the minutia of the hardware? (And post hoc fanwanking doesn’t count.)

‘Thunderbirds are gone!’


My experience is similar to yours, though I never got to see Space 1999 or *Terrahawks *. Though I must add *Secret Service *

I have a book by Derek Meddings entitled "21st Century Visions " which describes a lot of the work he did for Gerry Anderson and has some wonderful photographs. Come to think of it, it’s only the Gerry Anderson productions he describes in the book. Worth it for nostalgia value if nothing else . And some of the pictures are amazing . You’d believed they were real.

This was always the criticism leveled at Anderson - he was technically gifted, the shows had wonderfully-designed hardware, but there was a void where the characters and plots should have gone. He was in certain respects the mirror-image of Jim Henson. Henson used puppetry to bring characters to life and tell stories; Anderson used characters and stories to show off his puppetry and modelwork.

As a British person Anderson looms slightly larger in my childhood than he must loom for Americans, although not much larger, because his shows had been supplanted by cartoons in the 1980s, when I was young. Terrahawks, his only 1980s production, seemed to come and go. My dad’s generation grew up with Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet et al and there was a revival in the 1990s, although it has to be said that Thunderbirds in particular was padded like mad; as something to dip into it was fine, but to sit down and actually watch it was torture. I can remember UFO only being on occasionally, and late at night. It was fascinating, clever, stupid, ahead of its time, badly dated, all at the same time. Gabrielle Drake; light jazz music.

Space: 1999 is one of those things that will vex me forevermore. How could so much amount to so little?

Tell me, how big was Gerry Anderson in the States? His shows were produced by Lew Grade, who deliberately set out to make British TV programmes that would sell to the US market - he funded Danger Man, The Saint, The Persuaders, The Prisoner etc, all of which were ruthlessly designed to conquer the US market. The Gerry Anderson productions likewise, which is why they had mid-Atlantic accents and were shot in colour with decent budgets. At the time the rest of British TV - with the exception of The Avengers - was very cheap and parochial, two diseases that persisted for decades afterwards.

Lew Grade also produced The Muppet Show, which was huge, but I have the impression that the 1960s/early-70s shows were only middling successes in the US, Anderson’s output included. Is this the case?

If you really want to wallow in Gerry Anderson nostalgia, see here and here and here.

I didn’t mean that entirely as a criticism. I did just watch all of UFO in the last couple weeks. (I dimly remember it from the early '70s; remember Space 1999 much better.) There were some interesting stories (see my post in the other thread), but lots of TV shows have interesting stories. What jumps out as different about UFO is the unusual level of detail and intricacy in the fictional technology.

As David Szondy puts it: