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Missing in Action; When Gerry Anderson characters go AWOL!

The Gerry Anderson universe was populated by dozens of memorable characters – but there are quite a few who never had the chance to make much of an impression! For this list we’ll be looking at characters who appeared prominently in a show’s earliest episodes, but soon disappeared altogether. Characters who faded into the background but still appeared until the very end of their respective shows (like Kyrano, Captain Grey and Doctor Fawn) won’t be included, and neither will characters who disappeared between seasons (such as Chino, Suki, Victor Bergman etc) – this is just about the ones who dropped out early on. Whether through behind the scenes problems or a change in the show’s direction here are six Anderson series that very quickly found themselves dropping certain characters, or pretending that they had never existed in the first place…

Oink – Stingray

Every Supermarionation series needs a comedy animal, right? Sure it does. Supercar had Mitch the Monkey, Fireball XL5 had Zoonie the Lazoon, and Stingray had Oink the seal to provide a bit of light relief – although not for very long. First appearing in Sea of Oil – where he serves the useful narrative function of discovering the sticker bomb that otherwise would have blown Stingray to pieces – Oink is apparently then adopted by Marina and appears infrequently throughout the first half of the series.  After joining the team aboard Stingray for Treasure Down Below and The Big Gun he finally gets a little comedy bit in The Golden Sea…but it completely falls flat, highlighting just how unnecessary a character Oink was in the first place.

From here, Oink gradually fades into the background. By the time Marina gets her own house in Count Down the poor little thing is nowhere to be seen, returning in Loch Ness Monster just to say he doesn’t want to be in the episode anyway. He’s last seen in The Invaders, where in a recipe for disaster he’s left alone aboard Stingray but doesn’t even touch one button. How the mighty have fallen. Thankfully, for those who ‘demanded’ more Oink, the seal got himself his own comic strip in the pages of TV21, so…yay?

Still, at least it answered the question of what exactly happened to him…

Captain Carlin, Mark Bradley, & Dr Shroeder – UFO

UFO famously lost many of its regular cast when the production moved from MGM Borehamwood to Pinewood Studios, but several characters disappeared much earlier than that. Peter Gordeno’s Skydiver Captain Peter Carlin was actually the very first regular character the show introduced and is surprisingly prominent in the first episode, as well being heavily promoted in the show’s merchandise and comic strips, yet Carlin actually only appeared in six episodes. Gordeno was soon told by his agent that his UFO role was only intended to get him a little bit of acting experience but the truth is rather more unpleasant, as a long-standing rivalry between Lew Grade and said agent caused Grade to instruct Century 21 to have Gordeno removed from the show.

Interceptor pilot Mark Bradley was also phased out after the early episodes, as actor Harry Baird became frustrated with the inconsistency of the work schedule. He would return for the episodes E.S.P. and Kill Straker! before disappearing altogether, but the end credits of these episodes point to the behind-the-scenes problems as he is just credited as ‘Astronaut’ for both. Over in the Medical section, Maxwell Shaw as Doctor Shroeder is also prominently featured in the first three episodes produced before Shaw was taken into hospital for heart surgery. After a brief return for E.S.P. and an even briefer mention in Sub-Smash Doctor Shroeder was never heard from again, although his disappearance did allow for Vladek Sheybal to steal the show as the lovably sinister Doctor Doug Jackson!

“Just like you planned of course, Doctor.” “Of course.”

Benjamin Ouma – Space:1999

Benjamin Ouma, played by Lon Satton, only appeared in the very first episode of Space:1999 before disappearing without explanation for the rest of the series. Clearly intended to be a regular character and evidently having served on Moonbase Alpha for a number of years (he and Koenig clearly know each other when the latter arrives in Main Mission to take command of the base) Ouma was the base’s computer expert, but this role would be assumed by Clifton Jones as David Kano from episode two onwards. The reason for Satton’s departure remains unclear, although it appears that many of the cast found him difficult to work with. As with the loss of Maxwell Shaw from UFO however, the firing of Satton ultimately gave us a far stronger and more likable replacement character in David Kano. Ouma’s fate was also never revealed, although since Kano is clearly fulfilling his exact same function then we can assume that Ouma either transferred to another department or died off-screen very quickly into the Moon’s journey!

“Thank goodness I’ll never inexplicably disappear! Ben, why are you looking at me like that?”

TIM – Terrahawks

Much like Doctor Who would later do with Kamelion, Terrahawks included a robotic character as a regular that then almost never did anything of note. TIM however pulls off the impressive feat of appearing in pretty much every episode of the show where the left arm of Tiger Ninestein’s uniform is visible, and yet only speaks in two of them!

Presumably some kind of variation of the same technology that produced the Zeroids, TIM is an artificial intelligence housed in a medical monitor designed to keep an eye on Tiger’s vital signs and relay that information to the other Terrahawks should he be in danger. He does this in Thunder Roar after Tiger is trapped in the cave-in caused by Sram, and is last seen in the episode Gold as Tiger removes him shortly before being killed by the golden meteorite – despite TIM’s plea to remain! After that, he never says another word! Is he grieving for the death of the old Tiger, or just having a bit of a sulk? Regardless, TIM is one of those bits of Terrahawks lore that quickly fell away beyond his continual presence on Tiger’s arm, and even the scripts for the two episodes he spoke in offer no explanation for what exactly he is; he doesn’t even appear in the cast list!

Which means we’re free to guess at what the initials TIM actually might mean! Suggestions welcome.

Officer Beezle – Space Precinct

Orrin and Romek are the well-loved comedy duo of Space Precinct, but before Romek showed up on the scene Orrin was partnered by an equally clueless fellow Creon officer named Beezle. As with Ouma, Beezle has apparently been around for a while (mentioning in Double Duty that he and Orrin have been partners for seven years) but only appeared in the first four episodes of Space Precinct to be filmed before disappearing for good. Actor Tom Watt was already finding life difficult under the animatronic Beezle mask, and upon discovering that his voice would be redubbed by Lou Hirsch decided that it wasn’t worth sticking around if nothing at all was going to remain of his performance. Beezle was quickly and quietly replaced by Romek, with Lou Hirsch now getting to experience first-hand something of Watt’s frustration with his own new alien head mask. Thankfully, Romek would remain at Orrin’s side for the rest of the series, while Beezle was last seen being thrown headfirst into a wall in one of the show’s least impressive fight scenes.

He then slipped on a banana skin, got his head stuck in a bucket and mistook an outer airlock door for the bathroom. Probably.

Captain Amber & Captain Orange – New Captain Scarlet

Captain Amber is seen briefly in the show’s first episode at Captain Black’s funeral, and then again later on Skybase as Colonel White briefs his officers, before apparently disappearing into thin air – along with another mysterious figure sat beside him, Captain Orange. With neither character returning beyond this scene or even speaking at all we can only wonder at the terrible fates these two may have endured offscreen at the hands of the Mysterons. It’s possible they may simply have transferred to other duties in Spectrum. You could be forgiven for assuming Captain Amber was actually Captain Ochre, given that he’s standing beside Captain Magenta and wearing a very similar uniform colour to the classic series character. However, when Captain Ochre is actually revealed towards the end of the first series, it’s in the guise of the awesome Irish agent Elaine McGee, who’s sporting a decidedly different shade of uniform!

Meanwhile, based on his healthy grey skin coloration here, Captain Orange was already dead to begin with and nobody noticed for quite some time.

Are there other lost Gerry Anderson characters that never were lurking in early episodes of your fave shows? 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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