The Gerry Anderson Archive – December 2014 Update

One of our key goals at Anderson Entertainment is to ensure that Gerry’s programmes are preserved in the best state possible for future generations. Whilst the big hitters such as Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet are well taken care of by ITV, many of Gerry’s other shows have not been as well looked after over the years.

Compared to other archives, the Gerry Anderson archive is in a fairly healthy state. Whilst many famous television shows, most notably Doctor Who, are missing countless episodes, the only substantial casualty from Gerry’s long career is The Adventures of Twizzle from which 51 of the 52 produced episodes are missing.

The majority of Gerry’s work for Lew Grade, spanning Supercar to Space: 1999 survives in its original format (with the odd exception where the negatives have gone walkies, such as the first episode of Fireball XL5). Unfortunately though, the archival state of Gerry’s post Space: 1999 career is in rather poorer shape.

It was often said Gerry was a visionary and that is certainly true to the extent that he was only ever interested in looking forward. Once a programme was complete he was interested only in the next production and as such he didn’t tend to pay much attention to what had come before. This means that from Terrahawks onwards the archival status of many of Gerry’s shows is somewhat of a mixed bag and over the last two years we have been working to locate the best possible copies of each episode of every series produced.

A case in point is New Captain Scarlet. This series is only ten years old, but only a few weeks ago there was the real possibility that the HD masters for the show no longer existed and that all that remained was a single set of SD tapes prepared for the DVD release. Fortunately, after much detective work, an HD set of masters has surfaced and it is our hope that in time the series will finally be properly released in the form Gerry intended it to be seen.

Even the relatively young New Captain Scarlet series has been part of the search for archive material
Even the relatively young New Captain Scarlet series has been part of the search for archive material

Dick Spanner is another casualty; of the 22 episodes produced only a recently discovered, previously-unseen, 23rd episode survives on film. The rest only survive on 1-inch video tape and, as such, any serious restoration is virtually impossible. Similarly, The Day After Tomorrow, a one-off pilot from the 1970s no longer exists in its original 35mm format.

The most famous series of Gerry’s to be affected though is Terrahawks. After extensive research it seems distressingly possible that the original negatives survived until as recently as ten years ago. Revelation Films, who produced the 2003 DVDs, did not wish to incur the expense of new transfers as so utilised a set of old 1-inch video tape masters which were in less than ideal shape. By 2005, it seems sadly likely that Gerry, who it must be remembered was in the early stages of the dementia that would eventually cause his death, may have inadvertently allowed the destruction of the negatives. It is possible that Dick Spanner was also destroyed at the same time. Sadly, one of the key features of Gerry’s Alzheimer’s was his desire to be rid of the past; this even extended to having a mass clear-out of family affects including a huge archive of photographs.

Terrahawks has a fond following amongst the generation that were too young for Thunderbirds the first time, and too old for it the second time around. We have received many requests inquiring about a restored blu-ray release and, since releasing an unrestored version of A Christmas Miracle on YouTube a few days ago, we have seen quite a lot of interest on forums where people are speculating about the future of the series.

Happily we can report that, whilst the negatives appear no longer to exist, we have tracked down film prints from which HD restorations can be done. Given that the series was shot on the inferior 16mm format, without negatives to work from we were skeptical that any serious improvement could be made. However, we think you will agree that the sample presented here is very, very promising indeed and gives the series a new lease of life. The restoration of any series is a time-consuming and expensive process, but we hope that the work here will be the beginning of what will eventually become a fully restored blu-ray release.

Terrahawks 16mm print

Over the course of the previous two years we have been fortunate to turn up all manner of materials, ranging from prints laying around at Bray Studio, through to a long-forgotten box at an accountancy firm that contained sought-after tapes and films. We have found rushes, and off-cuts and all sorts of interesting bits and pieces. Sadly, as far as Terrahawks goes, at the time of writing we still have six casualties. The episodes Go(l)d, Play it Again Sram, Thunder Road, Time Warp and Zero’s Finest Hour only survive on 1 inch video tape. Furthermore, the version of Two For the Price of One that is available to us on film is cut.

Terrahawks effects shots

We really hope that we will soon be able to present Terrahawks to the world in the best possible format, rather than a re-release of the same tired copies that have been doing the rounds for years. Therefore, if you have any leads to help us fill the gaps please do get in touch. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this newly restored section from Happy Madeday – which switches between the SD and HD versions throughout so you can see the difference clearly. YouTube compression means you won’t get to see the full benefits of the restoration, but as a test piece we think it’s quite a drastic improvement. The final Blu-Ray version will be even more impressive.

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