Thunderbirds creator gone at 83

By Nick Clark

Gerry Anderson a puppet master who fuelled the childhood imaginations of a generation worldwide.

Gerry Anderson with Thunderbird 2 and the crew. Photo / AP
Gerry Anderson with Thunderbird 2 and the crew. Photo / AP

He was Britain's master of puppets, the creator of much-loved television shows including Thunderbirds and Stingray, whose groundbreaking use of marionettes was a source of wonder to generations of children.

Gerry Anderson, whose science fiction programmes won him legions of fans all over the world, has died aged 83. His son, Jamie, said he passed away at a care home at midday on Boxing Day (UK time). He had been suffering from Alzheimer's since 2010 and the disease had worsened in recent months.

A producer, director and writer, Anderson worked in television for more than 60 years and as recently as six months ago had hoped to work on a new series of Thunderbirds, the show which brought him global fame.

"I think a light has gone out in the universe," actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on shows including The Day After Tomorrow and Space: 1999, told the BBC.

Broadcaster Jonathan Ross also paid tribute, writing: "For men of my age his work made childhood an incredible place to be." While comedian Eddie Izzard added: "What a great creation Thunderbirds was, as it fuelled the imagination of a generation."

Anderson became a household name in Britain after the success of Thunderbirds, which brought the puppets of Jeff Tracy, Brains and Lady Penelope into the world's living rooms and popularised the catchphrases "Thunderbirds are go!" and "FAB".

In the early 1960s, backed by Lew Grade at British broadcasters ATV, Anderson created shows including Fireball XL5, Stingray and then Thunderbirds. The latter was so successful it was made into a film, Thunderbirds Are Go, in 1966.

However, Jamie also recalled his father "hated the puppets" as they were a "pain in the arse", and sometimes felt he had been pigeon-holed into being a marionette director, when he felt he could also work in live action.

- Independent

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