Wump Mucket Puppets pays tribute to Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson fans Eleanor Burke (hiding behind a Stingray DVD), Terrence Burke, and Tiernan Burke
Our world begins 2013 (so much for that Mayan calendar!) without a man who’s puppet and science fiction television programs made many boys and girls happy in the 1960’s and 1970’s. British television producer Gerry Anderson passed away on December 26, 2012. His programs featured fantastic futuristic vehicles, realistic looking aircraft, and some cheesy humor too! I became aware of the show Thunderbirds some time in the early 1970’s when I was a boy growing up in the Boston area. I don’t recall exactly how I learned about it, yet I do remember that the television station that broadcast the show (WSMW TV-27) was too far away from where my family lived to watch the show with any form of clarity. Being the A/V club member that I was back then, I figured out that our cousins lived in the broadcast area of TV-27. FAB! When we would visit I would attempt to convince my mother that I “had” to watch this show. Sometimes I was able to convince her of this need, sometimes I would be told to go outside and play with my siblings and cousins. From the bits of the program that I could view, I could determine that something remarkable was being broadcast, and it had puppets!
The future, as seen in 1975
Several years later, in which I was firmly a sci-fi fan, I got word on the playground that a cool new television series was going to be on the air featuring two of the actors from Mission: Impossible (another show I loved). It was 1975 and I was eleven years old when Space: 1999 was launched. I recall that my brothers and I went crazy for this show. We were fans of Star Trek, Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea, Batman, almost anything sci-fi related. Space: 1999 was exactly the show for us, it had lots of spaceships, laser guns, explosions, plus a woman who could change into animals and monsters too! WOW! We would often pretend to be members of Moonbase Alpha in our backyard. Lucky for us, and many other kids, there were a number of toys made to promote the series. Of course, it was a “Space: 1999 Christmas” at our house that year! I do wish I still had those toys. Sadly only a tiny part of my Eagle spaceship has survived from my youth to middle age.
Thank Goodness for DVD
Good thing that the future turned out a little different from how it was depicted on Thunderbirds and Stingray, on those shows everything was saved on magnetic tape! With the invention of digital media adult fans of Gerry Anderson’s programs could now “stand by for action” once again and re-watch the shows that they loved as children. For me many of his older programs were completely new since I was only familiar with Thunderbirds, UFO, and Space: 1999. I have since enjoyed watching the children’s shows on DVDs with my children, who in their own ways have become fans of Stingray (Eleanor) and Thunderbirds (Tiernan). We’ll have to wait a few years before we watch UFO and Space: 1999, as these were adult programs with adult themes and situations.
G'Wazzl wonders if Commander Edward Straker ever encountered a UFO like this
So thank you Gerry Anderson, and all the puppeteers, designers, actors, model makers, and crew who created these FAB-ulous visions of what the future may have looked like. You’ld be happy to know that the shows you made are still entertaining children, and their geeky daddies in the 21st century!