Another sad loss for the Gerry Anderson universe today, as we’ve heard that Keith Shackleton – the last remaining company director of the AP Films and Century 21 group – died on Wednesday 17th April. He was 90.
Keith Shackleton (pictured left in the early 1960s) first met Gerry Anderson during their time in the Royal Air Force in 1948. The two remained friends, and 12 years later Shackleton joined AP Films to work on their merchandising arm. On a visit to the United States, Keith discovered that a broadcaster who had bought the rights to Supercar was also sub-contracting the merchandising rights – in breach of their contract. This made Keith realise the value of merchandise rights. Rather than withdraw the Supercar rights from the US broadcaster, Keith brokered a new deal which allowed AP Films Merchandising to exploit the rights of a number of US shows.
This deal was the beginning of Keith and the AP FIlms/Century 21 Merchandising empire that included hundreds of lines of merchandise, and the incredibly popular TV21 comic series which ran for 242 issues and had a weekly circulation in excess of one million copies at its peak. It was one of the biggest merchandising operations of the 21st century and doubtless paved the way for modern licensing and merchandising activity.
After Century 21, Keith and Gerry Anderson continued their partnership with Gerry Anderson Merchandising which handled development and licensing for Gerry Anderson’s Starcruiser, as well as third-party licenses, including ABBA!
In the 1980s and 90s Keith continued to work with top brands including Power Rangers before retiring in the early 2000s.
The sad news was shared with us by Keith’s nephew David. He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts and condolences are with his widow and family, and his friends.
Feature Photo credit: Mike Burrows