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Terrahawks 40th anniversary releases announced!

Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr’s Terrahawks turns 40 this month, and Anderson Entertainment are celebrating!

On Saturday 8 October 1983, Terrahawks was broadcast for the very first time on ITV. The cult show was Anderson’s first in over a decade to use puppets for its characters, and also his last. Set in the year 2020, the series followed the adventures of the Terrahawks, a taskforce responsible for protecting Earth from invasion by a group of extraterrestrial androids and aliens led by Zelda. Like Anderson’s previous puppet series, futuristic vehicles and technology featured prominently in each episode.

Three special books will be available to preorder on Sunday 8 October to celebrate the classic TV series.

  • Flaming Thunderbolts: The Definitive Story of Terrahawks, written by Fred McNamara is packed full of information about the show, offering a rare glimpse into Hawknest and beyond.
  • Full-colour graphic novel Terrahawks: Deep Blue Z features two completely new stories penned by Chris Thompson and Andrew Clements, with art by Connor Flanagan.
  • The 144-page Terrahawks Comic Anthology reprints the original Terrahawks cartoon strips that were originally featured in Look In magazine, supplemented by articles about some of the writers and artists involved.

Also on Sunday 8 October, a two-disc limited edition CD in special collectors O-card packaging will be released. This soundtrack features the memorable opening theme, original musical cues from the show, hit singles released at the time of airing (sung by the character Kate Kestrel) and for the first time, a newly remastered version of the Terrahawks Suite performed by a full orchestra at the Stand By For Action! concert, recorded at Birmingham Symphony Hall in April 2022. All the music for Terrahawks was composed by Richard Harvey, who was able to combine his knowledge of the structure of classical orchestral music with the latest synthesised music reproduction techniques. Anderson and Burr had regular meetings with Harvey to discuss the style of music that they wanted for Terrahawks, particularly the main theme which was envisaged as a combination of the ‘best bits’ of the themes to Star Wars, E.T. and Dallas.

Three series of Terrahawks were made, with the 39 episodes broadcast on ITV between October 1983 and July 1986. The first 13 episodes were filmed on a budget of £3 million at Bray Studios in Berkshire with a crew of 65. All episodes are now available to watch on both Amazon Prime and ITVX, and as previously unseen in high definition on Blu-ray, delighting fans of four decades who can revisit the show, as well as new fans discovering the programme for the very first time.

Jamie Anderson, Managing Director of Anderson Entertainment, said: Terrahawks holds a special place in the nation’s heart and in mine, too. It has always been one of my favourite Gerry Anderson series, and has an obsessive and dedicated cult following, with Zelda being one of the most regularly mentioned 80s kids TV characters online. I’m delighted to be working on the 40th anniversary books and soundtrack. It’s been wonderful to journey back to where it all began. With all episodes now being available to stream via Amazon Prime and ITVX, the series continues to entertain, inspire, and excite a whole new generation, as the original series did some four decades ago”.

Terrahawks was less straight-laced than any of Anderson’s previous series, featuring a wry, tongue-in-cheek humour as well as dramatic jeopardy. The ensemble cast included the voice talents of the great Denise Bryer as Zelda, Windsor Davies as Sergeant Major Zero, Jeremy Hitchen as Dr Tiger Ninestein, Anne Ridler as Kate Kestrel and Ben Stevens as Space Sergeant 101.

Jeremy Hitchen commented, Terrahawks was a very important show for me. The cast was tiny and there were so many characters to play. We all became firm friends, which undoubtedly helped with the longevity of it. It was fantastic, a really major deal. Terrahawks had, and still has, a great following and I was proud to be part of it. I was about 21 or 22 when it started and once a month, I sloped off to Bray Studios to save the planet. We rehearsed two shows in the morning and then recorded the two shows in the afternoon. It’s where I felt I should be, as I loved it and had a lot of fun. To be part of the whole thing as a young man who wasn’t from that environment was such a thrill. It was a massive part of my life, and it’s still there. It remains a truly fabulous experience. For me, the humour is the one thing that sets Terrahawks apart from all of Gerry Anderson’s other shows; it’s never gone away.”

Prior to Terrahawks and throughout the entirety of the 1960s, Anderson’s series were noted for their use of his patented Supermarionation technique, which made use of electronically augmented marionettes. In contrast, producers of Terrahawks made use of latex hand puppets to animate the characters, in a process Anderson dubbed Supermacromation. This was partly dictated by the relatively low budget (latex hand puppets being much cheaper to produce than the sculpted wooden marionettes of previous series), but the absence of strings allowed for much smoother movement and could be used to more easily produce the illusion of the puppets walking.

The Terrahawks books and soundtrack CD are available to preorder from gerryanderson.com from Sunday 8 October, and will be followed on October 10th by a Terrahawks livestream featuring David Munday and Jack Knoll – so expect the unexpected!

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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