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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

        Father Stanley Unwin of The Secret Service

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The Secret Service
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  producers: Century 21 for ITC Worldwide
 live-action intercut with string and
                       radio-controlled puppets
       episodes: 13 x 30mins


"The Secret Service" follows the adventures of Father Stanley Unwin, the world's
     most unusual clergyman. The Good Father is actually moonlighting as a
     B.I.S.H.O.P. secret agent. That's British Intelligence Service Headquarters
     Operation Priest to you and I. Operating out of his quaint parish in the english
     countryside, Father Unwin appears ill-equipped to thwart the deviants and
     ne'erdowells thrown at him but he has at his disposal a gardener and handyman,
     Matthew Harding, who is of course an undercover assistant, and more importantly
     a devilishly useful invention - a miniaturizer, which he keeps hidden inside a copy
     of The Good Book....

     The miniaturizer formerly belonged to one of Father Unwin's parishioners,
     Professor Humbolt. It was his dying wish that Unwin look after the invention
     at all costs. This compact device is capable of shrinking a human to one-third
     their normal size. Father Unwin did the right thing and shared this secret
     with the British Government who, in turn, recruited him to B.I.S.H.O.P. and
     assigned him agent Harding to partner him on his missions. Invariably, it
     is Harding who is miniaturized each episode and transported inside Father
     Unwin's specially-adapted briefcase. The handyman's strange disappearing
     act certainly rubs the housekeeper, Mrs Appleby up the wrong way. But she,
     like everyone else in Father Unwin's parish, could barely comprehend the
     extraordinary secret that the clergyman is keeping under his collar.

       The late Father Stanley Unwin!   An unusual series then, made even more unusual
  by having its lead character based on a real-life
  British eccentric, the late Professor Stanley Unwin.
  He was famous for having created the gobbledygook
  language called 'Unwinese', a mixed-up way of talking
  used to fluster and unbalance folk in conversations -
  English still, but with the words all jumbled up in an
  almost-but-not-quite nonsensical manner.

     "The Secret Service" represents the next great step forward in Supermarionation
     realism from the Anderson stable. Here, live-action footage is carefully edited
     in and around film of the puppets to give the shows much more energy, breadth,
     and scope than the previous studio-grounded productions. The real-life Stanley
     Unwin is often glimpsed at windows or in vehicles - usually his favourite olde
     worlde jalopy Gabriel - before we cut away to his puppet version. On the flip
     side, puppet characters will be shown at the wheel of very-real motor vehicles
     and the like.

     Previously, Anderson series had toyed with live-action footage but only in
     close-up for hands and feet and their ilk - as in Captain Scarlet. A year
     earlier on Thunderbird 6 footage of a live-action Tiger Moth plane had been
     inserted into the Supermarionation world, but "The Secret Service" was a
     whole new ball game for the team...

     Of course, the burning question is, does it work? - And one has to answer with
     an uncomfortable "yes". It does work. But in succeeding to make the puppets
     "real", the show has lost much of the reason for being a puppet series in the
     first place.The series might have worked even more successsfully had it been
     a fully-fledged live-action production. And that's exactly the direction
     Century 21 took with their next production, the science-fiction drama
     series "U.F.O."...


     Those Secret episodes...

    A Case for the Bishop            Hole in One
    A Question of Miracles           Recall to Service
    The Feathered Spies             The Cure
    To Catch a Spy                    School for Spies
    Last Train to Bufflers Halt       May-Day, May-Day!
    Errand of Mercy                    More Haste, Less Speed
    The Deadly Whisper


     The Secret Service on DVD

     UK DVD The Secret Service: The Complete Series
                Region 2 / all 13 episodes / Network / June 2005

     USA DVD The Secret Service: The Complete Series
                Region 1 / all 13 episodes / A&E Home Video / Dec 2003


       series format Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

      producer:                David Lane
      prod. sup:               Des Saunders
       visual effects:
         Derek Meddings
      exec prod:              Reg Hill
      series directors:      Ian Spurrier, Alan Perry, Leo Eaton,
                                   Brian Heard, Peter Anderson, Ken Turner
      writers:                  Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick,
                                   Shane Rimmer, Donald James, Pat Dunlop
                                   Bob Kesten
      music:                   Barry Gray
music:         The Mike Sammes Singers
       created by:
             Sylvia Anderson
      puppetry co-ord:    Mary Turner
      operators:             Wanda Webb, Charmaine Wood
      wardrobe:              Iris Richens
      sculptors:              Tim Cooksey, Plugg Shutt
      dialogue synch:       James Cowan
      voices:                  Stanley Unwin (Father Unwin)
                                  Gary Files (Matthew Harding)
                                  Sylvia Anderson (Mrs Appleby)
                                  Jeremy Wilkin (The Bishop)
                                  Keith Alexander (Agent Blake)
                                  David Healy
                                  David Graham


     On the web


     The official Fanderson site!...

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