What Made Thunderbirds Go!: The Authorized Biography of Gerry Anderson

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9780563534815: What Made Thunderbirds Go!: The Authorized Biography of Gerry Anderson
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Gerry Anderson created "Thunderbirds," "Captain Scarlet," "Stingray," and "Fireball XL5." This biography recounts the triumphs and disasters in the life of a man who works incessantly on new ideas and projects--the man who changed children's TV forever.

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What Made Thunderbirds Go! The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson:

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What Made Thunderbirds Go!: The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson (which really should have been entitled The Man Who Made Thunderbirds Go!) is a substantially updated and expanded edition of (the late) Simon Archer and Stan Nicholls' Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Biography. Like its predecessor it suffers from being solely Anderson's version of events--ex-wife, creative partner and the voice of Lady Penelope, Sylvia Anderson is presented as little more than a scheming harridan--but it does offer a wealth of material about the cult television classics Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and Space 1999.

Anderson, born of Russian-Polish Jewish stock in Willesden Green, London, began his working life as an editor for the British Colonial Film Board. After a spell in the RAF, he more or less stumbled into puppet-based filmmaking in a bid to keep his ailing production company afloat. The Adventures of Twizzle, a rather twee Toytown affair, and (intriguingly) a Nicholas Parsons' voiced puppet western, Four Feather Falls, brought him to the attention of Lew Grade, the legendary cigar-puffing showbiz impresario. Grade helped Anderson develop Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray and of course Thunderbirds (although the latter Grade initially stymied by botching the American distribution deal). At its peak in the mid-60s Thunderbirds attracted millions of viewers world-wide and a spin-off comic, TV Century 21, grossed a staggering 630,000 copies each week. Follow-ups Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and The Secret Service were (unbelievably) less well received and Anderson practically abandon marionette shows for most of the 1970s. Live action kitsch-wonders The Protectors, UFO and Space 1999 failed to resurrect his fortunes. By the end of the 1970s he was so strapped for cash that he even accepted a commission by Ericsson to write a script about the history of telecommunications. During the 1980s Terrahawks and Dick Spanner helped put him back on the map, while re-runs, books and videos of his earlier work brought him a whole new generation of fans. Marcus Hearn's book provides an extensive, if rather uncritical, account of Anderson's incredible career. --Travis Elborough

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Archer, Simon, Hearn, Marcus
Published by BBC Books (2002)
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