F.A.B

220px-Gerry_Anderson

 

Sad to hear that Gerry Anderson is no more – he died peacefully in his sleep on Boxing Day, having suffered from mixed dementia in recent years.

For men of my age, Anderson’s name is synonymous with Thunderbirds, the puppet show he created from his studios in a Slough Trading Estate in 1965. The puppet show featured the adventures of the Tracy family, father Jeff and his five sons, Scott (pilot of Thunderbird One and principal rescue co-ordinator), Virgil (pilot of Thunderbird 2), Alan (astronaut in Thunderbird 3), Gordon (aquanaut in Thunderbird 4) and John (principal duty astronaut in space-station Thunderbird 5). They all lived together with Granny Tracy, Brains and Kyrano and Tin-Tin on a remote and uncharted island, from which they launched their international rescue missions. Lady Penelope and her chauffeur, Parker, acted as their London agents.

Thunderbirds pioneered a technique called Supermarionation, which Anderson developed. The technique used puppets suspended and controlled by thin wires. The wire filaments were suspension-control wires for movement and cables that took control signals to electronic components in the puppets’ heads. Solenoid motors in the puppets’ heads created the synchronised mouth movements. The drawback was they could not be made to walk convincingly and so the action centred on them sitting, standing or using machinery.

Still for boys of a certain age not used to hi-tech gizmos it was racy stuff and holds an endearing place in my store of childhood memories.

F.A.B and over and out.