The man behind some of ITV’s biggest puppet series of the sixties has died aged 83. Gerry Anderson is best known for action series’ Thunderbirds, Stingray and Fireball XL5.
The news of Anderson’s death was announced earlier today by his son Jamie.
“I’m very sad to announce the death of my father, Thunderbirds creator, Gerry Anderson. He died peacefully in his sleep at midday today (26th December 2013), having suffered with mixed dementia for the past few years. He was 83.”
Gerald Alexander Abrahams was born in London on the 14th April 1929 to Jewish parents. The family changed their name to Anderson in the 1930s. Anderson began his creative career as a photographer later moving to motion recording when he first joined the British Colonial Film Unit as a trainee then progressing onto movie house, Gainsborough.
He moved over to television in the mid-1950s, as commercial broadcasting arrived in the UK, a few failed companies later Anderson finally had success with cameraman Arthur Provis in their joint company AP Films – which aimed to sell programming to the new ITV network. First to snap up a series was Manchester’s Granada Television who commissioned, in 1957, The Adventures of Twizzle. The children’s series followed a doll, it would be the first of many puppets Anderson would bring to life.
Other shows soon followed such as Torchy the Battery Boy for ABC/Rediffusion and Four Feather Falls for Granada.
It was AP’s association with ATV Network however that would lead to Anderson’s most memorable series in both live action and puppetry.
Supercar launched in 1960 and followed the adventures of Mike Mercury, two years later Fireball XL5 hit the screens with the tale of the title named space ship, Stingray in 1964 was the first British children’s show to be produced in colour and followed the adventures of a highly sophisticated combat submarine lead by Captain Troy Tempest, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons following the title lead and his space missions, Joe 90 the everyday tale of a nine-year-old boy, Joe McClaine, who leads a double existence as both a schoolboy and spy and most famously from Gerry Anderson and ATV is Thunderbirds which followed the organisation International Rescue with a host of memorable characters including Lady Penelope, the Tracy family and their rescue crafts Thunderbird 1 through to 5.
So impressed with the quality of the output from Anderson’s company ATV owner Sir Lew Grade purchased the company in 1962, making it part of his Associated Television Corporation empire along with ITC Entertainment who sold the puppet series’ around the globe.
There were also live action series, the most notable being UFO – a science fiction action-adventure following a secret defense organisation set up to counter an alien invasion.
There were many more productions in later years including successful children’s series Terrahawks in the 1980s. But for many its the sixties series that Anderson will be best remembered.
“To those who met him Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man. His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.” Said chairman of the official fan club, Fanderson, Nick Williams.
In recent years it was revealed Anderson had been suffering from mixed dementia. The Anderson family have asked for donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Society in Gerry’s memory.
Gerry Anderson, April 14th 1929 – December 26th 2012