The Gerry Anderson ready reckoner

It's rumoured that Mark Pickavance designed the Thunderbirds computer game back in 1988. But that doesn't mean he's going to give Gerry Anderson an easy time

Thunderbirds

Gerry Anderson hugely influenced me as a child, despite seemingly never understanding what it was that he managed to get right in Thunderbirds and UFO. But in here there are some gems, even if they’re outweighed by the dross.

Captain Scarlet (2005)

3 out of 5
Not bad actually, even if the CGI or scripting wasn’t desperately clever in places. But dispensed as Saturday morning filler, most people never saw it. But it didn’t really take the indestructible Captain anywhere new.

Space Precinct (1994)

1 out of 5
I first saw the pilot for this show provided by an Anderson staff member in 1986, and it was horrible. The concept is Kojak in outer space. Eight years later it was technically better, but still an entirely dumb idea.

Dick Spanner, P.I. (1986)

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4 out of 5
Very funny pastiche on film noire detective movies that inspired a Tennants lager advertising campaign. Strangely subversive material and laughs, usually shown late at night. Seemed hilarious after about 12 pints of Stella.

Terrahawks (1983)

1 out of 5
For years Anderson tried to make the puppets look real, and in this he went in the opposite direction, why? A naff reworking of Thunderbirds not helped by borrowing a character from it ‘It ain’t half hot mum’ to add some humour.

Space 1999 (1975)

3 out of 5
Originally this was to be a new UFO series, but got bent into being something else entirely. It’s hard to believe the two seasons are the same show they’re so different. When it was good it was excellent, but sometimes it was god awful. Doesn’t stop me still wanting my own Eagle Transporter, though.

UFO (1970)

5 out of 5
Live action with Thunderbirds quality effects, I was in heaven. His best work, IMHO, and some episodes are decidedly adult in subject and content. Gabrielle Drake in purple wig and a string vest, it doesn’t get much better that that!

The Secret Service (1969)

2 out of 5
This show is so obscure most people don’t know it exists, possibly intentionally. It’s another puppet outing which features the unique Stanley Unwin as a Vicar involved in espionage via miniaturisation of the agents. Ah – Deep joy, fundermold!

Joe 90 (1968)

3 out of 5
Surprisingly good show, despite the lame premise of child spy brainwashed with adults abilities. The most sophisticated the puppets ever became, and some great vehicles. But these days they’d prosecute Professor McClaine for child abuse.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967)

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4 out of 5
I had all the bubblegum cards that made a giants picture by the same artist as the end credit graphics. This was a cool show, and was the first Anderson show with some darker overtones.

Thunderbirds (1965)

5 out of 5
His most famous creation, but it has too many characters and not enough episodes! The best about it is the incredible vehicle designs by Derek Meddings and his amazing model builders, which they sadly blew up at the end of most shows. FAB!

Stingray (1964)

4 out of 5
Stand by for Action! We’re about to launch Stingray! Anything can happen in the next half hour, and it invariably did! It was only years later I realised that Troy Tempest was meant to look like James Garner. This should be remade.

Fireball XL5 (1962)

3 out of 5
This was the first Anderson show that really caught my imagination as a child, even if it included the moronic Zoony! The launch of the Fireball was much more impressive than real rockets, I always thought.

Supercar (1961)

3 out of 5
Surprisingly sophisticated effects and interesting characters. It made flying cars seem just around the corner, err…nearly fifty years ago.

Four Feather Falls (1960)

1 out of 5
In retrospect this show bears an uncanny resemblance to the old Cowboy Woody TV show from Toy Story 2. But that doesn’t exactly make it good.

Torchy, the Battery Boy (1957)

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2 out of 5
It’s seems a bit creepy now, as some of the puppet faces are strangely distorted. It’s a weird take on Pinocchio, at heart.

I’ve not seen: Lavender Castle (1999) The Adventures of Twizzle (1957)

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