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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    My earliest recollection of watching a TV show on a regular basis was Fireball XL5 with Steve Zodiac and Venus. I absolutely loved it and I remember getting Steve and Venus string puppets one birthday, and also a small Steve on his hover bike, plus a Fireball XL5 rocket which you could fire with a catapult (not all on the same birthday I might add.). There's a mint original XL5 rocket the same as the one I had on E-Bay boxed with a starting bid �120. I also recently saw DVD boxed sets of the series available, but I'm in two minds whether I'd enjoy seeing it again or it may be harmful to fond childhood memories.







    Later series (or repeats of earlier ones) I remember along similar lines were Supercar, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlett



    Arguably the most popular one was Thunderbirds, which has had a merchandising resurgence since the flesh and blood film version. I was in a model shop the other day and as well as Thunderbirds you can now buy quite large scale replica die-cast Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray models, but at �40 each a little bit steep. On E-Bay the same ones have been seen for around �30 brand new.



    Which was your favourite Gerry Anderson puppet series and why?

  2. #2
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    It seems that SUPERCAR is still "big" in the States! I had no idea that it sold there but of course it did. I can still remember the Fireball theme! I can just about remember TWIZZLE, although it was really STINGRAY that we woke up to, and then there was the big hype on TV for THUNDERBIRDS in advance of it reaching the small screen. I do think though that JOE 90 was one that you always forget about!

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Country: Great Britain
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    What about The Secret Service? Almost completely forgotten about these days.



    Nick

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK Windthrop's Avatar
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    name='Nick Dando']What about The Secret Service? Almost completely forgotten about these days.



    Nick


    That's my favorite - plenty of live action in that one and Stanley Unwin. Apparantly during the filming of the series Lew Grade watched a screening and shouted 'stop filming - the Americans won't understand it !' and that was the end of his interest in promoting it.

  5. #5
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    name='Automotivehistorian'] I do think though that JOE 90 was one that you always forget about!


    Possibly because at school there was this "Walter" image (from Dennis the Menace) attached to all school boys who wore glasses, and the sterotype was studious, brainy, teacher's pet and so they were constantly being picked on or laughed at by non-ocularly challenged colleagues.



    So Joe 90 was not an easy "hero" to admire unless you happened to be one of those four-eyed kids, and there seemed far less of them around then compared with today. Other GA puppets seemed to mirror chisel-jawed Hollywood actors of the 50s and 60s, and the female ones were very glamorous. Was Lady Penelope modelled on Joan Greenwood?



    (I've just realised that on the previous XL5 image Steve is parachuting from the rocket into Outer Space! (Sack the scientific advisor)).

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='samkydd']Was Lady Penelope modelled on Joan Greenwood?
    No, on Gerry's missus, Sylvia Anderson

    (Maybe a somewhat idealised version)



    Steve

  7. #7
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    name='Steve Crook']No, on Gerry's missus, Sylvia Anderson

    (Maybe a somewhat idealised version)



    Steve


    Even if it wasn't 100% accurate he was a very lucky man



    "STOP PRESS middle-aged man samkydd found in compromising position with a plastic Lady Penelope puppet!"



    Had they made a flesh and blood film version in the 60s Joan Greenwood would have been perfect.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain mariocki's Avatar
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    Fireball XL5 is �14:99 at Play at the moment and the same price at Amazon:



    Play.com (UK) : Fireball XL5 - The Complete Series (Box Set) : DVD - Free Delivery

  9. #9
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    name='mariocki']Fireball XL5 is �14:99 at Play at the moment and the same price at Amazon:



    Play.com (UK) : Fireball XL5 - The Complete Series (Box Set) : DVD - Free Delivery


    It's very tempting!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: Lithuania Cooper S's Avatar
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    Sylvia Anderson is very keen to promote the idea that Lady Penelope was modelled on her, but the character's sculptor, Mary Turner, has suggested that Penelope was also inspired by someone she saw in a TV commercial.



    Venus in Fireball XL5 is unquestionably based on Sylvia though. Puppeteer Christine Glanville couldn't come up with a face for the character that Sylvia - as character supervisor - liked. In desperation Christine took advice from her father, who suggested basing the character on Sylvia - and Sylvia immediately approved the result !





    Joan Greenwood's name is often mentioned by both Sylvia and Gerry as inspiration for the vocal interpretation of Lady Penelope, and if you watch the Robert Hamer Father Brown film, Greenwood appears playing a character very similar to Penelope, with Sid James playing her chauffeur. The plot of the film also has similarities to the Thunderbirds episode Perils of Penelope.



    It's a pity that Joe 90 is given such a hard time by audiences - technically, it's one of the best puppet shows the Andersons produced, and has some very intelligent scripts for a 'kids' show. It probably wasn't a success because it was too serious.

  11. #11
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    You forgot Terrahawks!

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    name='samkydd']It's very tempting!


    Go for it Sam! I have loads of Fireball episodes on VHS and they are fantastic.



    The Boy Wonder and I regularly have 'Anderson Afternoons' when we watch our favourite, Captain Scarlet, and most of the others. He finds Stingray a bit scary but loves Fireball, Supercar and Four Feather Falls. The theme from Fireball was the first record I ever owned and I've still got it! I want to introduce Joe 90 into our afternoons soon as well.



    Bats.

  13. #13
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Bad news for all you fans of the Andersons' work.

    I was channel surfing as I grabbed a cup of coffee and I stumbled across Captain Scarlet (2005).

    I could see that the opening titles weren't the same as the real thing, but then they flashed up a sign saying that it was filmed in Supermarionation, so I stuck with it for a while.



    But it's a nasty CGI remake. Not a puppet to be seen. And it's at the low end of the range of CGI with not very realistic movements - but that still doesn't make them look like puppets



    Steve

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I am a stickler for authenticity - strings are a must with puppets for me! It has to be the original or nothing. The kids of today wouldn't know a proper puppet if it bit 'em on the bottom; I had a little Dutch girl that my poor Dad was forever un-knotting for me!

    (Twizzle was my first TV favourite with regards to children's programmes - although there wasn't a lot of kids' TV in the 19..............er, well, in those days!)



    Wasn't the 'Supermarionation' where the puppets were wired up so that their mouths moved with the actor/puppeteer - and that they suffered continual electric shocks as they spoke (the actors/puppeteers that is)?

    Now, THAT'S showbusiness!



    YDSL x.

  15. #15
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Starry-Eyed'] Wasn't the 'Supermarionation' where the puppets were wired up so that their mouths moved with the actor/puppeteer - and that they suffered continual electric shocks as they spoke (the actors/puppeteers that is)?

    Now, THAT'S showbusiness!



    YDSL x.


    Supermarionation (a blend of "super", "marionette" and "animation"), used marionettes suspended and controlled by thin wires. The fine metal filaments doubled as both suspension-control wires for puppet movement, and as electrical cables that took the control signals to the electronic components concealed in the marionettes' heads.



    Maybe the "handlers" did get some shocks. But I would have though it would be very low power so it probably wouldn't kill them



    Steve

  16. #16
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    name='Automotivehistorian']It seems that SUPERCAR is still "big" in the States! I had no idea that it sold there but of course it did. I can still remember the Fireball theme! I can just about remember TWIZZLE, although it was really STINGRAY that we woke up to, and then there was the big hype on TV for THUNDERBIRDS in advance of it reaching the small screen. I do think though that JOE 90 was one that you always forget about!


    Andy Saunders the customiser from Poole built a car based on blueprints of a 1950s Ford concept car which never saw the light of day way back then. The curved front and rear windscreens, which you can't see properly in the photo, are shaped like Supercar's and are Renault 25 rear windows. The style and characteristics of Supercar and this one by Andy seem quite similar. It has been used in TV commercials (Maynard's Wine Gums) and often appears at car shows near here. I think it's been to



    Goodwood as well, and

    the weekly Sunday afternoon Classics on the Prom gathering behind the Bournemouth BIC. The car is an amazing achievement and it drives too!

  17. #17
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    name='Steve Crook']Supermarionation (a blend of "super", "marionette" and "animation"), used marionettes suspended and controlled by thin wires. The fine metal filaments doubled as both suspension-control wires for puppet movement, and as electrical cables that took the control signals to the electronic components concealed in the marionettes' heads.



    Maybe the "handlers" did get some shocks. But I would have though it would be very low power so it probably wouldn't kill them



    Steve


    I don't believe I ever read of any humans being harmed in the making of the series! I imagine it was uncomfortable though.



    ('Marionettes'? Getting a bit posh, ain't we?)



    YDSL x.

  18. #18
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    name='Steve Crook']Bad news for all you fans of the Andersons' work.

    I was channel surfing as I grabbed a cup of coffee and I stumbled across Captain Scarlet (2005).

    I could see that the opening titles weren't the same as the real thing, but then they flashed up a sign saying that it was filmed in Supermarionation, so I stuck with it for a while.



    But it's a nasty CGI remake. Not a puppet to be seen. And it's at the low end of the range of CGI with not very realistic movements - but that still doesn't make them look like puppets



    Steve


    I must say, as long term fan of Anderson's work, I think the new Captain Scarlet is actually better than the original series. The design work on the original version was terrific, but too often the 'realistic' design of puppets were too static and lacking in personality. Had ITV properly publicised the show, rather than burying it with a Saturday morning kids show, it would have done well.

  19. #19
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    The CGI Captain Scarlet is produced in 'Hypermarionation'. I have both series on DVD and think it is fantastic. The animation is superb and the action sequences, especially those involving the new vehicles are stunning. It hasn't got the charm of the puppet series but is very entertaining. The Boy Wonder now prefers it to the puppet series.



    Bats.

  20. #20
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='batman']The CGI Captain Scarlet is produced in 'Hypermarionation'. I have both series on DVD and think it is fantastic. The animation is superb and the action sequences, especially those involving the new vehicles are stunning. It hasn't got the charm of the puppet series but is very entertaining. The Boy Wonder now prefers it to the puppet series.



    Bats.
    Ah, that'd be it then, Hyper, not Super-marionation. It was only on screen briefly as I was sitting down (that's my excuse anyway)



    Yes, the vehicles looked good but I thought the "people" looked very poorly created. Especially their arms and the way they moved them. They all seemed to be the wrong length for their bodies and they moved them as if they had movable elbows and wrists



    But each to his own



    Steve

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