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Old 4th February 2019, 02:37 PM
Commander Desica Commander Desica is offline
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Default Popularity of the various series...then and now.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s and '70s (I was born at about the same time as Stingray was being launched into the world), I saw most of Gerry Anderson's classic shows first time around. They were magical times.

For some reason I missed out on TV21, but in 1971 Countdown arrived on the scene and this was my TV21... as well as newly drawn strips it reprinted some of the old ones from TV21 and it must have been here that I first came across Fireball XL5. The early '70s was a golden age for Gerry Anderson fans, as most of the shows were being repeated or shown for the first time and - living in the Southern/LWT/Thames region as we did at the time - we got a never ending diet of Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and UFO. And, if my memory serves me correctly, we even got The Secret Service (although at the time we wouldn't have realised how 'lucky' we were!). Again, something tells me that Fireball XL5 was being shown here and there at this time, but I don't recall ever seeing it.

All of these shows were popular and had a following. Looking back, I remember that the most popular were Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO. One of the ways I judge this is by recalling that we all had all the Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO Dinky toys and yet there weren't that many Joe 90 jet cars around. Funnily enough, I seem to recall one of my friends having the Model-T Ford toy from The Secret Service. I also only remember seeing one Sam's car. In the 60s - can't remember what year - I definitely recall one of my friends having the large plastic TB2 and Spectrum Patrol Car and I recall going into a huge toy shop with my parents (possibly Hamleys) and buying the Dinky version of the same. Also, school playground games tended to be on a Captain Scarlet or UFO theme, and I don't recall too many of us ever wanting to be Joe 90. And yes, before we all became far too old for such things, Space: 1999 too became a playground favourite, using markings on the ground to represent the cockpit of an Eagle or Moonbase Alpha corridors! Like I say, they were magic times.

The next big thing was Space: 1999 - and I recall that it was hugely popular at first. It was the kind of show that everyone was talking about at school the following day (or whatever) and there were plenty of drawings of Eagle Transporters and Dragon's Domain monsters to be found in school exercise books. And don't even get me started about the Space: 1999 ice lollies! And yes, everyone had the Dinky Eagles - we had both the green Transporters and a white Freighter in our house. And then, by about 1977, it was all over.

Nowadays I suspect that, as then, all the shows have their followings, but it seems to me that it is still Thunderbirds that leads the field, followed closely by UFO, Captain Scarlet and, a little way behind, Space: 1999 - especially season one. Stingray and Joe 90 seem to be battling it out for fourth place and some way behind these come Fireball XL5, Supercar and The Secret Service. Where Terrahawks and the later ones figure in all this, I have no idea! I suspect that Fireball XL5 would rate as high as, if not higher than, Stingray if it was in colour. I'd be surprised if a black and white puppets series would sell that well on DVD or blu-ray, but if they could afford to colourised it, then I think it would do well. As it is, I suspect that Stingray will be the next - and probably the last - Anderson series to appear on blu-ray in the UK.

[edit] Of course it didn't literally all end in 1977. But from about 1976, for me at least, so much suddenly changed. Playground games became doing things one shouldn't behind the bike sheds or giving someone a good kicking whilst shouting "SWEENEY!" And, of course, being on the receiving end of the same! Gerry's shows, for a while at least, seemed to get forgotten. Of course, the 1980s and 1990s turned out to be a golden age as well, but this time around it seemed like a renaissance and the digging up of lost treasures.
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Last edited by Commander Desica; 4th February 2019 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:37 PM
shermeen shermeen is offline
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Exposure to each series was very dependant on where you lived. Anglia for example did not show a single episode of Thunderbirds during the 70's at all while LWT aired the series part of the year every year up until 1977.
Joe 90 is the earliest one I recall seeing on first airing. I likely did see some Scarlet but I don't recall and Joe was on sunday teatimes and I remember it well.
Born in 1962 I moved in 1973 losing access to LWT and that was pretty much bye bye Anderson shows as any airings on Anglia were sporadic and irregular. By the time I got ATV in 1978 it really was all over for the puppet series as all the shows didn't seem to be airing anywhere by then and when they returned in the 80's I'd grown out of them.

Placing Space 1999 opposite Dr Who was a foolish error by ITV and LWT gave up the game totally partway through Year One premiering the second half and all the repeats on saturday mornings.
I popped over to watch the second half of A Matter of Life and Death after Dr Who ended one week and the "see what you want to see" did it for me. As a 12 year old it seemed a cop out and I didn't watch the show again until Year 2 began and I really liked that.

UFO I found too adult most of the time on its first airing so from the TV Times I think I would have likely opted to watch The Champions or The Avengers after the first few UFO didn't work for me.
Even when I got to see repeats the show was far too variable. Things like Conflict, Dalotek Affair and similar stuff didn't work for a young teenager but I recall The Sound of Silence on a sunday morning and Reflections in the Water both getting high marks from me.

I had Scarlet , Joe and UFO toys but only because my parents thought I wanted them.
I didn't really get back into Anderson until around 1986 when I began trying to collect Space 1999 on video. The other shows followed naturally. A shame they opted for Stingray as the summer holiday network offering.
Since then the only object has been to get the best quality copies of all the shows - and it's still a work in progress.

Regarding popularity I agree that only Thunderbirds has any large scale recognition from the general public but in cult tv circles all the shows have their followers but since the year dot the live action shows have always been king, even over Thunderbirds. UFO is the fave but Space 1999 divides fans - and its usually with them preferring one season over another. I like Year One and Year Two for different reasons.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:46 PM
David David is offline
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I was the perfect age for all Anderson programmes. In fact I felt that I grew up at the same rate as the programmes became gradually aimed a slightly older kids.
I'm sure that Twizzle and Torchy are only in my memory because of the many repeats, but all the others from Four Feather Falls onwards were in "my time".
I even saw Secret Service as I lived in the Southern region at the time.
Like most, I would say that Thunderbirds was iconic, but I do have a great fondness for Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray.

TV Century 21 was a must have at the time and I wish that I had kept them. It cost me a fortune to replace them over the last 10 years or so! Amazingly I even have most of the free gifts.

Unfortunately my obsession didn't stop there and I also have all of the Lady Penelope/Penelope and Joe 90 comics.


But let's not get into the true depths of my obsession or I will be listing items that I've bought for hours.
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Old 5th February 2019, 03:36 PM
jasonsmith jasonsmith is offline
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I echo a lot of David's thoughts. Born in 1956 I "grew up" through the 60s with all these great shows. Earliest proper memory was Supercar although I do have vague recall on Four Feather Falls and Torchy.
Thunderbirds will always be the big one for me although I have great affections for Stingray, Fireball XL5 and Captain Scarlet. Less so for Joe 90. Never saw The Secret Service at the time.
Loved UFO, loathed Space:1999, tolerated Space precinct and New Captain Scarlet. In the modern era absolutely detest the new Thunderbirds series but then I'm over 60 now and times have certainly changed.

Living in a small country town the availability of merchandise in the 60s wasn't great although I did subscribe (through pocket money) to TV Century 21, Christmas, Birthdays and special occasions as well as earning money through various farm related work meant that I could keep up with the Dinky toys, some of the JR toys and of course the annuals , paperbacks and activity books.

I bought far too may bubblegum and sweet cigarette packs to save for the various cards often swapping cards with schoolfriends. Like an idiot I gave away many of my comics way back in the 70s,then as an adult took 20 years to get complete sets of TV21 all over again but unfortunately not for 7d an issue. what I did keep (and still have) are the annuals, paperbacks, dinky toys, bubblegum and cigarette cards and a few other bits and pieces.

Joined Fanderson in 1982 which has led to a whole host of very pleasurable years, not least finding there are so many more like minded fans out there many who have become friends, meeting many of my "heroes" and becoming friends with some. The icing on the cake has been meeting Lynn through the club and we've been together now for 26 years.

All in all Gerry and Sylvia, their fantastic teams, Fanderson and its fantastic members have a great deal to answer for!!!

Long may our love for the shows continue.

Stephen Brown

Last edited by jasonsmith; 5th February 2019 at 03:49 PM.
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  #5  
Old 5th February 2019, 06:16 PM
Commander Desica Commander Desica is offline
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The previous two posts remind me of a friend of mine, a guy named Roy, who often said the same thing... that he had literally grown up with the programmes of Gerry Anderson and had seen them all from Four Feather Falls onwards. Sadly he died last year, aged about 60.

I suppose, for me, Gerry had already reached his zenith, as it were, and my earliest memories are of Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet. But it was UFO that well and truly blew me away and has never diminished in my estimation.

I seem to remember YTV showed a few episodes of UFO well into the 1970s, perhaps 1974 or 75 and I do actually remember coming downstairs late at night once and finding mum sitting and watching 'The Cat With Ten Lives'... can't remember what year this would have been though. It could have been anywhere between about '73 and '75. I was shocked to see that UFO was on so late... but I didn't hang about as the Ouija board sequence sent me running back upstairs to bed! Apart from year 2 Space: 1999, I don't remember there being any Anderson shows on TV during the late 1970s.

The 1980s were a time of great rediscovery and I remember thinking "WOW! I never thought I'd ever see THIS again!" whenever ITV showed another old classic during the school holidays! I remember there being easily-available Thunderbirds T-shirts on sale in the mid-late 1980s, which seems to a) predate the big early 90s renaissance and b) indicate that Thunderbirds was always the biggest of them all. I have been told that UFO was the biggest seller of all the ITV videos and DVDs, which, if true, endorses my belief that it MUST have been a big seller on blu-ray. Similarly, although there have been several UFO conventions over the years, I can't remember there ever being a Captain Scarlet or Joe 90 con. Correct me if I'm wrong. Space: 1999 seems to have a HUGE following on the west coast of the US and in places like Italy (perhaps inevitably) and Japan. So, worldwide, I'd suspect that the 'big four' are Thunderbirds, UFO, Scarlet and 1999 - but possibly not in that order.
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Old 5th February 2019, 09:20 PM
shermeen shermeen is offline
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Yes I think all Anderson repeats were out of time by the late 70's bar Space 1999 although they were all on offer again in the 80's but it was hit and miss which ones you got.
UFO was popping up until around 1977 but appears to be left over episodes almost forgotten by ITV regions who only aired them as the rights were getting close to expiring.
Like most ITC series UFO was filler and could turn up on a saturday morning , sunday afternoon or close to midnight during the week. Repeats rarely ran for more than a few weeks so like the ITC live action series it was sheer luck if you caught one on a repeat as a kid.

I think the TV21 comic was too pricey for my parents but I did get some of the Joe 90 comics when it first appeared but only a few. Same with Countdown, got the first few then nothing bar the annuals.
I've spent the last 20 years buying again all the things I enjoyed as a kid that eventually got sold lost or scrapped.
The original big blue Joe 90 annual and the UFO annual are 2 of my faves which got swapped over the years so I was glad to get them again. The annuals produced around the time of the 2 Joe 90 annuals really are superb and I have them all now.

I don't recall seeing any of the B&W series at all on Anglia or London after 1970 even though Granada and ATV seemed to surprise with the odd screening of Fireball and even Supercar in the early 70's.
I think the ITV repeats of Fireball in the mid 80's was my first sight of B&W Anderson.

ITV never made the most of the Anderson shows when they had them (except ATV who seemed to air them often) so it was a surprise they bothered to buy them again after ATV vanished but it was definitely the BBC2 screening of Thunderbirds that took that show to another level. It's first ever full network screening and in a great slot and it took the bubbling cauldron of cult tv that had been going for a few years to boiling point and BBC2 followed soon after by Bravo kept cult tv fans happy for quite a few years.

Last edited by shermeen; 5th February 2019 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 6th February 2019, 12:55 PM
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Bill Everatt Bill Everatt is offline
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Being born at the end of the fifties, I missed things like Twizzle, Four-feather Falls and Supercar. Here in South Wales the original television contractor [TWW] did repeat Torchy the Battery Boy, so I did get to see that which I liked, but none of the others. It was only when I needed to research Gerry's career, ahead of the Commercial Radio interview I did with him in 1992, that I realised there was stuff I missed.

My earliest memory was of Fireball XL5, which I followed avidly. Stingray was not really one of my favourites, because, as a four-year-old, the Aquaphibians scared the hell out of me, so I missed that.

Then Thunderbirds came along which for us in Wales was at the beginning of November 1965. By 1966 I could read properly, so my Mother got me TV21 every week, which I had along with TV Comic and Buster.

Thunderbirds made a big impression on me and my childhood will always have associations with that series. We didn't have much money, but over the course of two years, I did get Thunderbirds one, two, three, and five. I also had the Dinky FAB1, and Zero-X together with things like bubblegum cards and bagatelles as well as the Annuals.

I did like Captain Scarlet, and like a lot of kids in 1968, I bought the Dinky SPV.

When Joe 90 came along, I got the comic, but was uninterested in the sport element, and when TV21 changed, I stopped buying it altogether. The secret Service was never shown in my region. And on Guy Falks Night 1970, most of my entire collection of comics [including TV21] was put on the bonfire and burned!

Sometime afterwards I became aware of UFO which I really enjoyed when it eventually arrived on Harlech Television, sometime in 1971. Also, around about that time Countdown started its print run. You can be sure I squirreled those away, and still have them to this day.

The Protectors just didn't interest me, as was the same with the now re-titled Countdown/ TV Action.

Space-1999, was the highlight of my television week during 1975/ 76 but we didn't get the second series at all! By the time Terra-Hawks and Dick Spanner came along I had grown up, but I did have a much younger brother. So we used to watch it together, but like Stingray, it didn't quite click with me.

You can imagine how excited I was when I got to speak with Gerry. At the time he was making Space Precinct, which when it did get to air, I enjoyed, but not as much as UFO.

The New Captain Scarlet series was treated terribly, and I got to watch the first 13 episodes convalescing from major surgery! I think ITV botched and butchered it... Unlike many of the original TV21 Generation, I loved the New Captain Scarlet, and wished Gerry had been able to make more. I think its terribly regrettable that Gerry was not able to get the rights to make a new Thunderbirds series, and just shows how arrogant and downright nasty the ITV lawyers and creative team actually are.

Having said that, I do enjoy the new Thunderbirds series, so clearly, I still have intellectual capacity of a five-year-old! I wish WETA had been allowed to make it as an actual full continuation. But having said that I like it a lot more than either Stingray, Terrahawks or The Protectors. And the DVDs still sit next to my original Thunderbirds DVDs and take up a chunk of my bookcase.

Over the years I've been able to collect some of the toys, and of course the annuals and paperbacks I missed as a kid. Some years ago, I was part of the TV21 restoration Project, so I now have a complete set of my beloved comics. And not just as data files. About ten years ago, I was able to print each comic out in A4 format, it was a mammoth task, and took a couple of years to do, but was worth it.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and Thunderbirds made an indelible mark on my life as a child, and I'm proud of be being part of that generation.
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Old 6th February 2019, 06:00 PM
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Mrspeed Mrspeed is offline
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Being born in 1965, I vividly recall reruns of Thunderbirds, Scarlet and Joe 90, I lived in London and I remember my dad telling me to watch this new show called U.F.O. in 1970, LWT air date anybody? We played U.F.O. in the playground, anybody who had a zip up cardigan was automatically Foster and I claimed that prize. I remember playing Captain Scarlet using a torch for The Mysterons. I had all the toys and collected Countdown and TV Action, they were happy days and I'm so glad I was born when I was. U.F.O. remains to this day my favourite TV show of all time.
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Old 6th February 2019, 09:12 PM
shermeen shermeen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Everatt View Post
And on Guy Falks Night 1970, most of my entire collection of comics [including TV21] was put on the bonfire and burned!
Why why why?

Were you parents punishing you? It's nearly 50 years since and I am mortified on your behalf.
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Old 6th February 2019, 09:17 PM
shermeen shermeen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrspeed View Post
Being born in 1965, I vividly recall reruns of Thunderbirds, Scarlet and Joe 90, I lived in London and I remember my dad telling me to watch this new show called U.F.O. in 1970, LWT air date anybody? We played U.F.O. in the playground, anybody who had a zip up cardigan was automatically Foster and I claimed that prize. I remember playing Captain Scarlet using a torch for The Mysterons. I had all the toys and collected Countdown and TV Action, they were happy days and I'm so glad I was born when I was. U.F.O. remains to this day my favourite TV show of all time.
Can't recall dates offhand but I think LWT waited until 1971 to show UFO like some of the other regions. Xmas 1970 LWT were showing Stingray on saturday.
But you were fortunate as LWT gave good repeat runs to Scarlet and Stingray mixing in with Thunderbirds in the early to mid 70's on saturday mornings and sunday morning/afternoons.
As with other regions UFO repeats were all over the place including saturday mornings around 930.
When LWT finished their repeats around 1976 that was it for UFO - never to be seen again on London ITV
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