Thursday, 27 December 2012

RIP Gerry Anderson (1929 - 2012)

Sad news emerged yesterday, that Gerry Anderson, best known as the creator of hit puppet sci-fi show Thunderbirds, has passed away at the age of 83. His son Jamie announced the death yesterday, saying he "died peacefully in his sleep"; Anderson also created Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and Space 1999 - to name just a few.

Having now had a day to process this, it's sunk in just how much of an impact Gerry's work has had on me - and indeed anyone who grew up in England since the 60s. Thunderbirds was, and to some extent still is, huge. I have fond and vivid memories of watching the show, playing with my Thunderbird 2 toy, and a friend and I dressing up as Scott and Virgil as children. The show's immense popularity spawned a (slightly less brilliant) 2004 feature adaptation starring Ben Kingsley, complete with the similarly titled chart-topping single by Busted; a new series of the show was also being developed, in CG.

Although Anderson's most famous work was using modified marionette puppets (a technique called supermarionation), he did dabble in other formats; for all the brilliance of the 1960s original, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, my fondest memories of that show are of the 2005 CGI reboot. That, Thunderbirds and shows like Cubix helped fuel my lifelong love of sci-fi and technology. He also created the beloved live-action series Space: 1999.

Several animators, stop-motion directors, filmmakers and celebrities have expressed a deep love of Anderson's work and a deep sadness at his passing.

Gerry truly was a wonderfully talented man (he even wrote an early story treatment for Moonraker), one who has influenced multiple generations of children and one who will be greatly missed. Jamie Anderson is endeavouring to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society in honour of his father's condition - you can donate here.

Thunderbirds, sadly, are go no more. Rest in peace, Gerry.

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