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Doctor Who 60th Anniversary 5 Crazy Gerry Anderson Connections You Never Knew!

Doctor Who celebrates its 60th anniversary today, and we know that many Anderson fans – ourselves included – are also fans of the adventures of television’s greatest Time Lord! But did you know that the Anderson universe and the Doctor Who universe have crossed paths on several occasions – sometimes in unlikely ways! Here are five of our favourites!

Oxygen of the Daleks

During pre-production of Fireball XL5, the creator of the Daleks – Terry Nation – visited A.P. Films in Slough. During a chat about how the production team were going to get the show’s puppets into and out of their space suits, Terry quipped “Forget the spacesuits, Gerry – why don’t you just give them oxygen pills?”. Gerry stopped for a moment and then reflected – “what a great idea!”. Pleased by the positive response, Terry said “Well Gerry, you can have that one as a gift from me”, and so the oxygen pill became a regular feature of the 1962 Supermarionation show.

Space: oddities

Model effects footage from Space:1999 later turned up in many other movies, music videos, and television shows – including several Tom Baker Doctor Who stories!

In 1979’s Nightmare of Eden, Professor Tryst shows Romana pictures from several planets he’s visited, including Retha (The Full Circle), Piri (Guardian of Piri), and Terra Nova (Matter of Life and Death). The following season’s The Leisure Hive also made use of old Space:1999 footage, this time of the Moon traveling through the titular Space Warp.

The Space:1999 Moon itself even made an appearance in new footage in the story The Invisible Enemy, courtesy of the rotating Moon prop being re-used in model effects shot at Bray Studios.

Jon Pertwee for Parker?

During the 1990s resurgence of such Gerry and Sylvia Anderson shows as Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet, Gerry met with the 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee. The two got along very well, and often spoke on the phone and wrote to one another. In one early letter, Jon offered his services to provide a voice on any future productions – particularly if a Thunderbirds movie was to go into production. Sadly, the two never worked together before Pertwee’s death in 1996, despite Gerry’s intention to ask Pertwee to provide a voice during pre-production of what became the 1997 series Lavender Castle.

International Rescue & Spectrum provided the sonic screwdriver

When the Century 21 Studios finally closed for good in the early 1970s, not all of the models and props from previous productions were consigned to landfill! Many found their way to the BBC for use in other science fiction productions, including the F-116 jet from the Joe 90 episode Talkdown which appeared almost unchanged as the IMC spaceship in the Doctor Who serial Colony in Space.

Perhaps the most famous of Doctor Who props to have started life at Century 21 was Jon Pertwee’s sonic screwdriver, which combined Alan Tracy’s screwdriver seen in the Thunderbirds are Go feature film with part of a communicator prop used by Captain Blue in the Captain Scarlet episode Model Spy. In subsequent years (and for subsequent Doctors) the prop was revamped several times, but always retained the familiar shape of Alan’s screwdriver – until the sonic screwdriver was destroyed by the Terileptils in the 1982 story The Visitation. Although not the very first sonic screwdriver prop, it’s certainly among the most iconic!

Nods from the new series

While the original 1963-1989 series made very few references to the Anderson universe (with the most notable being the Thunderbirds and Fanderson logo badges on Ace’s bomber jacket), the 2005-onwards series has seen several notable mentions of Anderson shows and personnel. In the series 5 episode The Lodger the Doctor introduces himself with the cross-franchise greeting of “Hello, I’m Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue, please state the nature of the emergency.”, while in series 6’s A Good Man Goes To War Madame Vastra dismisses a cab with the words “Thank you, Parker. I won’t be needing you again tonight,” to which the response is “Yes M’lady.” One of the greatest however has to come in the Twelfth Doctor story Death in Heaven, in which a debate about whether Cloudbase comes from Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet is punctuated by the Doctor’s claim of having once met Sylvia Anderson; “you’ve never seen a foxtrot like it!”  

Those are just a few of our favourite connections between the universes of Anderson and Who – but what are some of yours? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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