_V gh City

Newsman Nigel Billen talks by electronic land lineto

Details are reaching us of a major recall otSecurit Thunderbird creator Gerry Anderson.

Council personnel and equipment to Edinbur





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Back in the mid sixties. it you were a l child under 14. you liy'ed part ol‘ your life in the twenty lirst century.

Britain was swinging. 'l'hunderhirds yyere go. (‘aptain Scarlet yyas indestructahle. l’rom Supercar to.loe‘lll millionslolloyyed the dey'elopment ol the most sophisticated seriesotehildrens' thl\'etlttlre.\ ey'er created l’or teleVisitttt.

In March l'idinhurgh‘s (‘ity‘ Art (‘entre celehrates thirty years ol (ierry Anderson‘sprogrammesyyith the lirst exhihition to he Lley'ittetl to the yyork ot‘oneol‘teley'ision‘s greatest puppeteers.

Back in l‘l5h Anderson‘s neyy'l.\ tormed l'ilm production company looked as it it might die lietore it had made a him. ‘I started my me in the tilm industry in the cutting room. had hecome a tilm editor and a sound editor hut really wanted to make my' own picturesf Anderson. who yy ill he in lidinhurgh on 1 March to open the exhihition. told me. "together yyith a teyy lriends l lormed my y‘et‘y lirst company. We yyeie so inexperienced that I really think we yyere cxpectingto make something like lieu lliu‘. Six months alter we started yy e yy ere on the y'erge ol' hankruptcy; nohody had asked us to make a lilm. l‘iinally'. tyyo ladies arriy'ed (one yy'as the authoress Roherta Ice) and told us that they had scripts ltil'tllll'ty—tth puppet .s'hoyys would we make them'.’ What ldidn‘t knoyy at the time yy as that they had heen all round the lilm industry trying to get these lilms made l’or ahsolutely‘ nothing. ( )l’ course yy c said yes. \Vcd hay c said yes to anything.~

'l‘hus. totally accidently Anderson yyas drayy n in to the world ot puppets. there can hay‘e heen no one watching The .‘lt/i‘t’)l[tl"t’.\ of

Ticks/c who could hay'e predicted the series that yyere to lolloyy'. or their incredihle success. At the time the only motiy'ating lorce seems to hay'e heen prol‘essional cmharrasment. 'Suddenly' I lotlitd mysell contronted with these papier—mache puppets on sticks. I really thought it yy as like making films on the end ol‘ the pier. l yyas so disgusted with rnyscll that I suppose I tried to imitate real lilms using puppets in order to hring some respectahility to yy hat I yyas doing. At the time the yyhole thing seemed counter productiy'e; ey'ery time we produced a good looking puppet lilm

Fireball XL5 on routine recon

naissance memory. .‘ylore strongly. [tilt/H" The Battery [for shines through the years. this lirst shoyy n in 1‘55 hut repeated throughout the early years ot the sixties yyas yy hen hattery operated torches still counted as neyy technology. 'l'orchy had a torch. miner—like in his cap. But yyho rcmemhers l'rilrl' l't’tll/lt'l’ l'ilHy '. ’l'hough made alter l'orchy this puppet show in a Wild \\ est setting surely didn't haye the same appeal. \Vith ( ierry Anderson it yy as alyyays the hardyyare that stuck in the mind.

l loyy eyet' the mine iii to science iiietion \y'as. like the [tune into puppets. accidental. Superior the lirst ol‘ the ( ierry' Anderson series really to make its mark on teley ision audiences. leaturcd a luturistic. yy heelless. lilying car. ‘When yy e made the early puppet tilms yye alyy'ay‘s had one prohlem. yyc couldn't get the puppets to yy alk. So yy e yy rote Sir/incur. 'l‘hc idea yy as that they yyould all iump in. sit down. and yy'hi/ around. ncyer haying to yy alk at all. that iust gradually edged in. l was iiey'er a

lt yyasn‘t really science lietion science lietion hull as such.‘

Standhy lor action

.S'izpcrcirr had something yy hich appealed to a neyy generation ol children. a generation yyhich yy as el‘l'ectiy'ely the lirst leley ision generation. they were to groyy up expecting machines to he the unlimited source ol ady enture and magic in a way that yyent l'ar heyond \Vh'ttt the readers til the [ale/e ('omic’s l)an I)are could ey'er hay'e imagined. Sir/incur had American (all he it l‘il'ties) sty lc tail hits. [I yyas a reliel yyhen Father's l lillman Minx also sported such tins. It is no coincidence that l)iiiky"s toy cars

the link which hegan

we were loreyer heiltL’ asked to makeé‘hmlld h“ “‘ ilhhAlClillul “ith ( lull

more.‘ Dimly. 'l’yy'iz/le yy ith her extending arms and legs. remains in the

Anderson with a model ol Sir/incur stretched

vi "‘ through l/ziuii/cr/im/ liyoandl ady

Restricted photograph: Stingray on secret manouevres

l’enelope‘s pink Rolls Royce. l’Alt

l . right up to models l'rom Space I‘M”. l)ie cast model cars. ( ‘orgi and Dinky. were the extension ol the fantasy ol' teley'ision as yy ell as a link with the worlds ol‘the parents. the days til train sets and ol .‘yleccano were already numhe red l’or these children had lound there were more potent yy ays to make their toys ‘yyork‘.

(ierry' Anderson‘s concept ol a childrens programme has alyyay's heen to reject that there is any such thing: ‘l'y‘e ney'er heen ahle to understand the ditlercnce hetyy‘een children‘s entertainment and adult entertainment. It you ask yyhat a child yyould really like it would he to stay” tip alter nine to watch James liond.‘ ( 'ertainly'. irom litre/MN .\'l.5 onyy‘ards. these puppet shoyys attracted the attention ol' parents as yyell as theii children. lloyy‘ey'er. the real talent ol these series was to create an atmosphere ol reality; It yyasnt perhaps immediately apparent; the lixed grin ot ('olonel Stey'e /.odiac's lemale side kick. Venus. men in the lace ol disaster. yy‘asn‘t exactly plausihle although elseyy here liy'e action lemales till teley‘isiitti seemed to he treated little hetter. Hut lire/Hill X15. which took the Anderson series lirmly in to the orhit oi science lietion yy‘ith ady'enturcs set in space. and yy hich was the lirst olyy'hat yy as to hccomc a connected series ol puppet ady'enture shoyys. can still he taken seriously as ( ierry Anderson pointed out to me: ‘Nohody‘ has yet noticed that British Aerospace's neyy prototype in—Australia—lor-lunch plane. utilises in a ramp exactly the same launch system as l’irehall.‘

(ierry Anderson‘s puppet shoyy s are littered with machinery that seem to he prototypes tor later iny'entions the Verticaltake—oil plane yyas nothing neyy to those yy ho yyatched'l'limii/cr/ii/‘i/y and Anderson conl'esses to yyondering it some ol the lruits ol today's neyy technology might not hay e heen. suhhminally' perhaps. suggested hy his shoyys. l’artly his success in predicting the tuturc can he put doyy n to the attention he paid to the Lley'elttplttelit ideas til the time. A super supersonic plane is alter all merely a super ( ‘onci irde. Naturally. the shoyys lrom early on relied heay fly on the inlluence oi the greatest technological adyenture ol the age. the Apollo l’rogrammc. Anderson‘s ma'or puppet series yy ere set in the in enty lirst century