PENELOPE: ALL THE RIGHT STRINGS
Many people, witch-hunting for
transatlantic influences, assume that 'Thunderbirds' is
American. In fact, it is made at Slough by AP
Films, formed nine years ago by Gerry and Sylvia
Anderson and now an ATV subsidiary. Anderson
believes that British children accept American accents
and settings since they associate rockets with America -
and it helps sales in the US television market.
These are likely to bring in £7-10 million. The
projected retail figure for the exploitation of
Thunderbird toys, sweets, books and comics in 1966 is £6
The Andersons write all the initial
scripts; Sylvia is also the voice of Lady Penelope
Creighton-Ward, International Rescue's London Agent and
one of television's sexiest creatures.
This is their seventh series, reached
via 'Twizzle', 'Torchy', 'Four Feather Falls', 'Supercar',
'Fireball XL5' and 'Stingray' - a remarkable discard
rate. "I'd love to see them continue," says
Anderson, "but a new approach, a new article, is more
Each series marks a technical advance.
The puppets' heads are packed with electronic devices to
make their lips respond to the sound-track. A
15-man crew spends 20 working days on a one-hour
episode, re-shooting and puffing the strings out of
sight by aerosol spray. The Andersons set them
fresh problems each time: "If we can already do
it, it's old fashioned."