Classic Thunderbirds are soon to go again, thanks to the generosity of fans. New episodes featuring puppets will be made on the Slough Trading Estate, where the much-loved Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series was made.
Fans have already pledged more than £164,000 to a Kickstarter campaign for three new adventures marking the show’s 50th anniversary. The puppet series, following the heroic exploits of International Rescue, including Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker, ran on ITV for 32 episodes from 1965 to 66 and spawned two cinema outings.
Since then there has been a live action movie version in 2004 and Thunderbirds Are Go, a series mixing CGI and modelwork, which has aired on ITV this year.
The new project, called Thunderbirds 1965 and masterminded by Stephen La Rivière, has the blessing of ITV, Sylvia Anderson and Jamie Anderson, the son of Gerry, who died in 2012. It will use audio recordings by the original voice cast, first released in the 60s, and feature recreated sets and puppets.
La Rivière, who will produce and direct the “unashamedly retro” stories, told Radio Times, “The reaction to the campaign has been huge. Our initial target of £75,000 was funded in just under five days – which is incredible. At the time of writing, we are £1,000 away from being the most successful UK film-related project ever funded on Kickstarter.”
The episodes will be made by the team behind the acclaimed 2014 documentary Filmed in Supermarionation, which was directed by La Rivière. So why does he believe Thunderbirds’ appeal is so enduring?
“I think the format based around saving lives, combined with the unique look of the show, has made it timeless. The original show exists within its own artificial universe – it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t look 100 per cent real. The magic is in the sophisticated toys-come-to-life nature of it.
“Plus, there’s also a sophistication in the way the series is written and presented. At no point do you get the feeling that the show doesn’t take itself seriously – no matter how bizarre the situation.”
Initially, the new episodes will be on Blu-ray and DVD and only available to backers. “However,” adds La Rivière, “we hope that these episodes will in time become part of the Thunderbirds canon and enjoy a long life of their own!”
If you’re interested in backing the project, click here.