The Animates – can you help?

The Animates, Sylvia Anderson‘s first solo production after leaving Space:1999, has been added to the Productions page of the website.

This series for pre-schoolers was designed to help children learn some simple life lessons, and merchandise included a series of books and episodes on VHS cassette in the 1980s. The series appears to have been largely forgotten following its initial broadcast across much of the ITV network in the late 1970s. The club has three episodes in its archive and screened one of these at our Supercelebration convention in 2017.

We’re keen to know more about the series – especially a full episode list and broadcast dates. Contact us at fanderson.org.uk@outlook.com if you can help.

 

  

 

Review: The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

Sam Denham reviews Ian Fryer’s new book on the story behind the Andersons’ extraordinary creative partnership.

It was good timing when I recently received a copy of Ian Fryer’s ‘The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’, the latest non-fiction book inspired by the couple’s innovative and enduring productions, as I’d just been re-reading the first, Tim Heald’s ‘The Making of Space:1999’. Since Heald’s eyewitness report was written – exactly forty years ago – an increasing number of books have been produced about the Andersons and their pioneering films and television programmes, from the ‘primer’ Boxtree publications of the early 90s, to detailed episode guides, biographies and behind the scenes accounts. I think I’ve read all of them, and even had the chance to write one myself – 1993’s 21st Century Visions – for special effects supremo Derek Meddings. But as some have asked, is there really any need for another? I’d say undoubtedly ‘Yes’, Ian’s book shows that there are still novel ways to explore the Andersons’ creatively rich partnership.

Taking an overview of the productions the couple were involved with together from ‘The Adventures of Twizzle’ to ‘Space:1999’, Ian places them in the context of the world in which they were produced, and unlike other books which have largely focused on the technical aspects of how they were made or the recollections of those who made them, he gives an insight into the creative development of the production team’s work, focusing on elements such as story conception, music, and production design. In the section covering Stingray he highlights the increasingly sophisticated approach to scripting, which results in a series that achieves an entertaining balance between adventure, romance and humour, while in the section on UFO he discusses the eye-catchingly memorable – if impractical – aspects of the costume designs and Barry Gray’s equally memorable – and possibly more future-proof – score. Such observations help shed light on the continuing appeal of the Andersons’ shows to viewers, many decades after they were originally produced, and in this respect the book is unquestionably successful.

The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

The book isn’t without certain flaws though, both in accuracy and presentation. Having carried out my own research into the history of AP Films and Century 21, an early interview with Arthur Provis revealed that John Read and Reg Hill were never directors of Pentagon Films, that AP Films only became established as an active production company after the commission to produce ‘The Adventures of Twizzle’ had been received, and that stories of Les Bowie having been based at Ipswich Road prior to AP Films’s arrival have somehow confused the order of events. This information is also corroborated in other publications and documentaries not referenced in Ian’s bibliography.

A number of other errors have crept in that possibly should have been picked up at an early stage. Such slips include Alan Fennell being described as the script editor of Thunderbirds instead of Alan Pattillo, and Gerry’s return to Pinewood, after originally working there as a dubbing editor, being said to be in 1973 with the production of ‘Space:1999’, when he’d clearly already returned some years earlier to make ‘Doppelganger’ and the last nine episodes of ‘UFO’ (these are also later referred to as having been filmed at Elstree Studios).

It’s also stated twice that ‘Space:1999’ was the only occupier of Pinewood’s stages during the course of its production, although I can readily think of two others – ‘The New Avengers’ in 1976, and ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ in 1974 – that were both shot during the same period. Christopher Lee would have filmed his guest role in ‘Earthbound’ just prior to the Bond film’s main foreign location shoot and its subsequent return to Pinewood in the summer for the filming of its studio interiors.

The oddest claim made in the book is in the section covering the conception of the ‘Thunderbirds’ craft, where it’s stated that Derek Meddings based his designs of the vehicles on the shapes of the numbers assigned to them. Having interviewed Derek extensively about his work on ‘Thunderbirds’, he never mentioned that this affected his creative thinking, and during a recent conversation with Mike Trim, Mike supported the opinion that the craft were designed purely with a ‘form follows function’ philosophy – the only exception being Thunderbird 5, which was solely inspired by the shape of the Tracy Island roundhouse.

In terms of presentation the book takes a slightly idiosyncratic approach, being divided into sections, most of which are devoted to one particular production. In the case of each TV show, Ian has also chosen an episode to examine in more detail, and this helps to give a flavour of the particular series without giving away too many spoilers to readers who may not have seen them. In addition he provides potted biographies of cast and crew along the way, although these do tend to break up the flow of the text and might have been more effectively included in a separate section at the end of the book, as would the extensive opening list of acronyms.

Probably the weakest aspect of the book’s presentation though is the visual content. Given that it includes a beautifully glossy section full of colour images, it’s a shame that most of these are either book covers or lobby stills (including one from ‘The Man From Uncle’!), indicating that official picture rights may have been difficult to obtain. Even given this limitation, the selection of images strikes me as not having made the best use of the opportunity – perhaps greater use of studio or location images, or photographs of cast, crew and props from events and conventions might have added more variety.

Such criticisms aside, I enjoyed reading ‘The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’. Apart from the occasional factual inaccuracy, the book appears to be generally well-researched, and offers an objective and very readable account of the Andersons’ almost 20-year partnership. Ian clearly has a genuine love and enthusiasm for the subject and has provided a thoughtful and thought-provoking addition to the Anderson literary canon. Although perhaps ideally suited to those who are relatively new to the Andersons’ worlds, and at £25 in hardback not such good value as the recent ‘Thunderbirds Vault’ book, it still deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone who loves the Andersons’ productions, or wants to learn about their creation. Forty years on, the snowball that Tim Heald started rolling with ‘The Making of Space:1999’ is still growing.

The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson: The Story Behind International Rescue is available in hard back and Kindle editions from Amazon.

Sylvia Anderson has Died

Sylvia Anderson, during production of Space 1999Sylvia Anderson, writer, television and film producer – but probably best known the world over as the voice of Thunderbirds’ Lady Penelope – has died at the age of 88, following a short illness.

On hearing the news, Fanderson chairman Nick Williams paid tribute to her:
“Sylvia’s talents and contribution to the AP Films/Century 21 productions have always been acknowledged by Fanderson members, and I was delighted that she could experience this by a long-overdue standing ovation from hundreds of fans at our convention The Future Is Fantastic! in 2015.

Sylvia Anderson entertains the audience

“For many years the club had been unable to make contact with Sylvia, and I was so pleased to make amends for this a couple of years ago when we finally met. She was a gracious hostess, full of fun stories and lots of laughter.”

Together with her former husband Gerry Anderson, Sylvia co-created and produced some of the best known family entertainment, including Stingray, UFO and Space:1999. Whilst Gerry was more interested in the technical side of film-making, Sylvia brought humanity and an avant-garde fashion sense to their ventures. But Sylvia will always be best remembered for her puppet creation in Thunderbirds – the aristocratic London agent of International Rescue, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward.lady-penelope

Following the breakdown of her marriage to Gerry, Sylvia Anderson forged a new career for herself by scouting out new talent as Head of Programming in the UK for the Home Box Office cable network. She had recently co-created and was developing a new television series, The Last Station, with her daughter Dee. And just last year she was re-introduced to the world of International Rescue when she recorded the voice of Lady Penelope’s Great Aunt Sylvia for ITV’s new series Thunderbirds Are Go.

Sylvia leaves a daughter, Dee Anderson, and a son, Gerry Anderson Jr.

Fanderson will pay a full tribute to Sylvia Anderson in FAB 83, due in April 2016

Read the news BBC’s story story here.

Sylvia Anderson to appear at The Future is Fantastic!

sylvia-anderson-crew

Fanderson is thrilled to announce that Sylvia Anderson has agreed to appear in her first-ever Fanderson convention this October. Sylvia has expressed the view that she thinks The Future is Fantastic! will be ‘very special’, and now leads a formidable list of guests who will be appearing at the event.

Producer, writer and voice actress, Sylvia Anderson worked with her husband Gerry in the 1960s and 1970s to co-create most of the series and films that Fanderson celebrates today. She is famous for developing the characterisation and costumes of these productions – particularly in Thunderbirds, where she both voiced and designed the look of Lady Penelope. Fittingly, she is set to return to the new Thunderbirds Are Go as Lady Penelope’s Great Aunt Sylvia this year. She has also recently been developing a new animated series called the The Last Station in collaboration with her daughter, Dee.

So far, the full list of guests announced for The Future is Fantastic! is:

sylvia-anderson-space-1999

The most up to date guest list can be found here

PLEASE NOTE:

Ticket prices for The Future is Fantastic will be increasing in April, so this is your last chance to buy your tickets at the full discounted price!

The Future is Fantastic! will take place over the weekend of 2nd to the 4th October 2015 at the Holiday Inn Maidenhead.

As well as a wonderful array of special guest panels and interviews, Fanderson’s first full-weekend convention in five years will also feature:

  • rare screenings
  • displays of models, puppets and artwork
  • exclusive merchandise
  • interactive workshops
  • games…

…plus a few other surprises!

In the meantime, you can…

sylvia-anderson-space-1999-cake sylvia-anderson-space-1999-2


What do you think of the exciting news about Sylvia’s involvement at the convention? Let us know below by posting your comment below!

Win a Thunderbird 4 bag!

Thunderbird 4 bagThe countdown continues…

Thanks to our friends at ITV Studios, club members can win a Thunderbirds Are Go! promotional bag, in the second in our series of competitions!

Produced specially for Brand Licensing Europe, the black bag carries the new series title along with the silhouette of Thunderbird 4. Inside the bag is an A5 flyer and a costume patch, sealed in silver foil.

To be in with a chance to win this special Thunderbird 4 bag that money can’t buy, just answer this simple question:

What was Sylvia Anderson’s advice to Nick Tate on being “too Australian” in Space:1999? (clue: the answer’s in FAB 78)

Send your answer to query@fanderson.org.uk along with your full name and club membership number by 23:59 BST next Monday, 20th October 2014.

The winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries on Tuesday 21st October, when we’ll have another competition for you! Two runners-up will be send the Thunderbirds Are Go! flyer.

The Last Station – exclusive look at design sketches

Hakutan variationsDevelopment of Sylvia and Dee Anderson’s new animated series The Last Station continues apace, and they are keen to give Fanderson members an exclusive look at development sketches for some of the leading characters.

Fanderson chairman Nick Williams said, “I’m delighted that Sylvia and Dee value the support of Fanderson members for this project. Once again, Sylvia brings her flair for character, story and design to such a refreshingly original concept, and I’m sure club members will want to support it as much as possible.”

In just two weeks the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has jumped considerably, and the project is getting a lot of high-profile support within the entertainment industry. Your chance to participate in the campaign closes on 4th October.

Contribute to The Last Station

Sylvia and Dee Anderson to develop new animated series – The Last Station

Sylvia Anderson and her daughter Dee Anderson have announced plans for funding of an exciting new animated series!

Set in the distant future on Mykron, a planet far from Earth, The Last Station is a fusion of music, animation and science fiction. The series charts the threat posed to Mykron by the sinister Spyrons, vampiric monsters that feed off the creative energy of music and souls.Robot DJs The Hakitans

Having fully developed the concept, characters and scripts, the Andersons have turned to crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo to raise the money needed to take the project to a finalised stage and produce the first pilot six episodes.

The Last Station has  garnered some high-profile involvement. Cass Lewis of Skunk Anansie fame is the series Musical Director, and will be sourcing musical talent for the series. Thomas Sangster (Game of Thrones) stars in the voice cast.

Sir Richard Taylor, best known for  iconic multi-award winning productions such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar and The Hobbit has described The Last Station as ‘Groundbreaking Television and of its Time’.

The £660,000 goal has  one month to run – The Last Station needs your support!

To find out more about the project, including funding allocation, videos, quotes and character outlines, visit the The Last Station’s Indiegogo page.

Sylvia Anderson interviewed in Andersonic

Andersonic logoIssue 17 of the popular Gerry Anderson fanzine Andersonic is now available to buy online!

As we have come to expect, the March issue contains the usual high standard of interviews, reviews and articles. Issue 17 features two amazing interviews. The first, with Alan Shubrook, covers his career at Century 21 and is illustrated with some of his rare behind-the-scenes photos. The second is an exclusive interview with Sylvia Anderson, in which she talks about her work in the creating and  casting Lady Penelope, Parker, the Angels and Ed Straker!

Other juicy morsels not to be missed…:

  • Space:1999/ Siren Planet – a look at the original script written by Art Wallace, which was later rewritten by Johnny Byrne to become the series’ second episode ‘Matter of Life and Death’.
  • Thunderbirds/ Desperate Intruder – two writers take opposing views on this desert adventure where Brains finds himself up to his neck in it.
  • UFO/The Long Sleep – we curl up with a tube of Smarties and take a look at one of the weirder UFO episodes. Take a trip with us back to that ruined farmhouse…
  • Home Taping: 1999 – Mark Rosney recalls the days before VHS.
  • Strip Story – we look at an individual comic strip story to see what makes it tick. This issue – Countdown’s UFO story ‘The Final Climb’ drawn by Jon Davis.

Issue 17 also features internal art by Steve Kyte and a cover image by Martin Bower.

Buy your issue today at www.andersonic.co.uk

Fanderson members get half-price tickets at Autographica 2014

logogoldAutographica, the world’s largest autograph event, is once again paying tribute to the works of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

And this year Fanderson club members can buy day tickets for Autographica 2014 at half the normal price if they quote their membership number when they order! This extremely generous offer is due to the special relationship that has been built between the club and the event in recent years.

What to expect at Autographica 2014

This year’s event is taking place on the 21st – 23rd March 2014 at the Radisson Edwardian, Heathrow, London. This popular event is proving to be an absolute must for Gerry Anderson fans, featuring no less than five guests from different Anderson shows.

Heading the guest list is Sylvia Anderson herself – the other  half the creative team behind most of the Anderson shows, and the voice of Lady Penelope. The next big name is Barbara Bain, who played Dr. Helena Russell throughout Space:1999.  Bernard Kay, who  played the Humanoid in the second season episode New Adam New Eve, will also be attending. Other guests at the event who will be of interest to Anderson fans include:

  • Christopher Neame (The Protectors – Blockbuster)
  • Adrienne Corri (UFO – The Square Triangle,  and the 1954 film Devil Girl From Mars, which was recently released by Network Video)

The show also has a packed guest list also contains James Bond girls plus other actors and actresses from Dr Who and other TV shows and films; you can even get to meet a real-life astronaut.

To book your tickets go to www.autographica.co.uk or phone the ticket line on 01959 573792, open 9.00am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday