A rather unusual and exciting piece of official merchandise has appeared over the last couple of months for the 50th Anniversary of Thunderbirds… Spineless Classics beautifully designed print featuring the full scripts from the first five episodes of the iconic series. We asked Carl Pappenheim at Spineless Classics to give us the rundown on how this product came about…
“Usually when the phone rings and it’s another PPI claim company, but sometimes it’s Jeff Tracy. Or his management at ITV.
“Would you consider doing some Thunderbirds episodes in your lovely format?” asked a mysterious voice.
“Your lovely format” in this case refers to printing up complete episodes as posters. If you’ve ever wondered how large a complete, legible novel would look on a poster, we at Spineless Classics have the answer: probably not as big as you think. We’ve fitted classics like “The Colour of Magic” and “The Hobbit” into standard frame sizes and we even had room to make an attractive image with the white space left over.
“We could give it a go,” I replied. “How long is a full episode script?”
Not as long as a novel, it turns out. Even with all the repetition of the names, and the extended action directions, the first ever episode “Trapped in the Sky” comes out under 6,000 words. That meant we could fit five whole episodes onto one 50x70cm poster and still stick to our legible 4 point text size.
“What do you mean,” our PR team asked me later, “you’re doing Thunderbids? They’re not novels!”
“But they are AWESOME,” I replied. “And Awesome is my middle name. Well, my secret code name.” They stared at me. “It’s not my secret code name. But it is a great reason to do them. I’ve started watching the episodes already!”
You see, what remains of the original scripts doesn’t include all the action that made it onto the screen, so we had to go back and analyse, scene by scene, all the first five episodes to add in everything that was missing. Communing so closely with the original episodes was an interesting experience, in which one notices little details that might have passed by a more innocent child. A tank with a “Depth Gauge”. (The plot requires it, so it has one.) Scott’s slavish dislike of article words like, “the”, “this” and “my” when making official transmissions. Alan being told by Penelope he’s “too young” for “Les Folies” in Paris (look it up) and sarcastically offering to Rhumba the night away with Parker. The fun they must have had making this show is enough to give you severe career envy.
These five episodes are the perfect pick for Thunderbirds fans, introducing a vast array of International Rescue air, land, sea and space craft, as well as all the major characters, including Tin Tin, Kyrano and of course his evil twin brother The Hood. Episode 3 is actually named “The Perils of Penelope” and includes perhaps my favourite moment. Racing through the Swiss Alps in the pink Rolls Royce, Parker takes his eyes from the road to take a videophone call from his employer, who’s on a sleeper train. Penelope wistfully mentions she’s missing her usual nighttime mug of cocoa, to which Parker masterfully replies, “I did h-anticipate that, mlady. So I slipped an ot flask of your favourite brand in the foot of your at box.” Where is a modern lady without her Parker?
The finished scripts are everything they should be: faithful, comprehensive and carefully polished for consistency in formatting, even down to using the official fonts (Gill Sans, Futura and Univers) for the most authentic feel. The layout is in a striking and iconic design which is instantly recogniseable. Litho printed in razor sharp archival ink, these prints are Tracy approved and I really hope everyone who gets one for Christmas loves it as much as we do.
I’ll waiting by the phone in case Jeff calls to order one.”
You can order the Spineless Classics Thunderbirds print from the Official Gerry Anderson Store right now!