Stand by for action! How 2019 is ushering in a new golden age of Gerry Anderson shows
It's been 50 years since Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet lit up the screen, but a new wave of Anderson series are on the horizon
The great man himself may have passed away in 2012, but the enormous legacy that Gerry Anderson left behind continues to be felt today, with fans still hooked on the signature shows of his 1960s heyday – Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – as well as his cult creations from the 1970s, '80s and '90s – UFO, Space: 1999, Terrahawks and Space Precinct.
"Anderson fandom has experienced a resurgence over the last few years," Gerry's son Jamie tells RadioTimes.com. "We’ve seen huge increases in interest from fans all over the world with the Gerry Anderson Podcast [hosted by Jamie with Space Precinct actor Richard James] audience growing by around 10% per month, and thousands of listeners all over the world.
"Every week we have a special feature interview with someone who worked on the shows or a celebrity fan. It’s been amazing to find so many people all over the world who have been so heavily influenced in their lives and careers by the Gerry Anderson shows they’ve watched."
But it's not just nostalgia fuelling this ongoing obsession with Anderson's output: a roster of brand-new projects are currently in various stages of development, with Jamie now heading up Anderson Entertainment, the production company formed by his father in 1999.
Here's what's been announced so far with, Jamie tells us, "even more to come", adding, "it’s probably the best time in over a decade to be a Gerry Anderson fan."
- Gerry Anderson's classic Space: 1999 is being rebooted with a new cast
- Gerry Anderson's greatest hits
Space: 1999 rebooted
First up is a reimagining of the vintage series Space:1999, produced on audio by Big Finish Productions – best known for their Doctor Who range, Big Finish previously collaborated with Anderson Entertainment on a continuation of the original Terrahawks.
Space: 1999, though, is a reboot with a new cast (led by Line of Duty's Mark Bonnar) based on the premise of the original show – which saw the Moon knocked out of Earth's orbit and sent hurtling uncontrollably through space – but with lead writer Nicholas Briggs taking the series in new and exciting directions.
The new version will launch on 13th September 2019 – the 20th anniversary of the date that 'Breakaway Day' happened in the original – with Big Finish putting out a feature-length pilot episode. A further box-set of four stories will then follow in 2020.
"I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with writer-director Nick Briggs on this project, as the story’s script editor, and the sheer amount of love and dedication shown by him, the crew and cast has been quite astonishing," Jamie says. "The story sounds great, and whether you know and love the original, or Space:1999 is a meaningless title to you - I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this."
Beyond Space: 1999, Jamie tells us that there may well be other similar collaborations announced in the near future, saying, "I don’t think there’s a shadow of a doubt that there will be more Anderson stuff coming from Big Finish in due course!"
Kate Kestrel and the Terrahawks
Anderson's 1983-86 puppet series Terrahawks – perhaps best remembered for its lead villain, the evil space witch Zelda – is also getting a reboot, but this revival is coming to television.
Like the original, the new series is expected to follow the heroic Terrahawks' battle against the extraterrestrial android forces of Zelda, but with an increased focus on the character of Kate Kestrel, ace pilot and internationally famous pop star. "This change came very naturally when we started working with Star Wars illustrator JAKe on redevelopment," Jamie explains. "It’s an approach that I know Dad would have fully approved of."
A broadcaster is yet to be announced, but Kate Kestrel and the Terrahawks is currently being developed by US-based producers Tiny Giants LLC and will be executive produced by Jamie alongside Stu Gamble, with Mark Hoffmeier – writer on various animated Marvel series including Spider-Man (2017-present) and Avengers Assemble (2013-19) – attached as showrunner. Ten-Ten!
Gerry Anderson's Firestorm
The final project announced so far is Firestorm, a new series based on one of Gerry Anderson's original concepts. Utilising the latest techniques in puppetry, Firestorm is being made in what's being called 'Ultramarionation' – a tip of the hat to the classic Anderson series of the 1960s, which were famously billed as being 'Filmed in Supermarionation'.
Set in 2202, the show will follow the heroes of Storm Force as they contend with the machinations of the sinister Black Orchid organisation.
A pilot minisode was funded by Kickstarter backers and released in October 2018 – you can watch the thrilling adventure, which spans a little under 10 minutes, in its entirety below – and a full 26-episode series is now in pre-production.
"We’ve been slightly held up while we’ve been searching for appropriate studio facilities," Jamie explains. "But we hope to have some news on that particular aspect very soon indeed."
Alongside the fantastic visuals, which gives the classic Gerry Anderson style of puppetry a modern twist, Firestorm features an impressive voice cast including Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) and Naoko Mori (Torchwood) as agents Sam Scott and Nagisa Kisaragi.
These three projects alone would see the Anderson-verse in its most active state for years, but Jamie assures us that this is just the beginning, with "still more Gerry Anderson legacy projects, as well as new ones, in the works." Fans will have to be patient, though, when it comes to further announcements.
"I would really love fans of Dad’s shows to know what’s going on with his legacy and Anderson Entertainment’s future, so it’s incredibly frustrating for me not to be able to excitedly shout about all of it to the world," he says. "But there are multiple other parties involved in these projects, and a myriad of reasons why I’m not able to talk openly about these projects yet.
"But rest assured - there is so much more to come!"