Gerry Anderson was born on 14 April 1929, and through a combination of skill and an incredible level of determination earned his first credit as a producer when he was still in his 20s. Years before the word ‘brand’ was popularly applied to television, Gerry’s name came to represent an inimitable style of entertainment that proved hugely successful around the world. From Fireball XL5 to Space: 1999, Captain Scarlet to Space Precinct, Supercar to Thunderbirds – he has become the UK’s equivalent of Walt Disney.
During the 1960s Gerry used puppetry to realise epic science fiction scenarios that would have been impossible to achieve in anything other than miniature scale. The names of the shows he produced during this era are familiar to millions, and continue to entertain audiences today. An incredible feat unsurpassed by any other British TV and film producer.
As the optimism of the 1960s faded, Gerry Anderson created darker scenarios for the new decade. Live-action series UFO and Space: 1999 anticipated the accomplishments of Star Wars and are still regarded by many as his finest work.
He was never content to stand still, and his programmes became increasingly diverse in the 1980s. He made a welcome return to puppetry for Terrahawks and brought the animated private detective Dick Spanner to the screen, while developing a parallel career as an award-winning director of sophisticated television commercials.
In the 1990s he created and produced the lavish live-action series Space Precinct, before returning to children’s entertainment with the enchanting Lavender Castle. In 2001 he was awarded an MBE for services to the British film industry.
The astonishing New Captain Scarlet premièred in 2005, by which time Gerry (then 76) was long past the age when most people consider retiring. His enthusiasm for the next project, and his fascination for the latest technology, remained undimmed through much of his final illness. He passed away on 26 December 2012.
Despite being relatively shy, and never really spending much time looking back and reminiscing over his achievements Gerry Anderson came to appreciate that for many people his shows represented a special time in their lives. And he was proud that the ingenuity and optimism of his characters galvanised some viewers who went on to distinguished careers within film, television and other fields.
Thunderbirds has inspired movies, stage shows and a vast array of merchandise, all reflecting its phenomenal impact on our popular culture, and together with his other shows is cherished by many generations of viewers.