Gerry Anderson – best known as the creator of popular children’s TV series Thunderbirds – has passed away aged 83.
The Hampstead-born film and television producer – whose distinctive “supermarionation” puppet style also gave audiences Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Stingray and Joe 90 – had been suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2010. His death was announced on his son Jamie’s website:
“I’m very sad to announce the death of my father, Thunderbirds creator, Gerry Anderson. He died peacefully in his sleep at midday today (26 December 2012) having suffered with mixed dementia for the past few years.”
Anderson began his career studying fibrous plastering and doing photographic portrait work before taking a job at Gainsborough Pictures, which he subsequently left to set up AP Films (later renamed Century 21 Productions) with friends.
With few commissions to work on, the team produced their first puppet show, The Adventures of Twizzle, in 1956, followed by further successes Torchy the Battery Boy, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray.
But it is for the creation of Thunderbirds in 1965 that Anderson will be best remembered. Filmed on Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire and broadcast on ITV, it followed International Rescue, a futuristic emergency service operated by the Tracy family with assistance from Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker.
Famous for coining the catchphrases “Thunderbirds are go!” and “F-A-B”, the show was adapted into a major feature film for United Artists in 1966, followed by a sequel in 1968.
Known for his use of “supermarionation” – working with modified puppets – in the 1960s, Anderson moved towards live action productions in the 1970s, creating British sci-fi series Space: 1999, followed by a remake of Captain Scarlet in the 1980s. His final producer credit was a further re-imagining of that iconic 1967 series – New Captain Scarlet premiered on ITV in 2005.
Nick Williams, chairman of Anderson’s fan club, Fanderson, also posted a tribute on Jamie Anderson’s website:
“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.
“Anderson’s unique style of filmmaking influenced the imaginations and careers of countless creatives that succeeded him, and his productions continue to be shown around the world to new generations of fans.”
Further tributes to the late producer have poured in via Twitter, with celebrity fans including Brian Cox, David Baddiel and Jonathan Ross offering their condolences:
Anderson leaves behind three children from former marriages – Joy, Linda and Gerry Junior – his son Jamie and widow Mary.