Thunderbirds (1964-1966) producers: AP Films for ITC Worldwide puppets: Supermarionation
/ string and
radio-controlled puppets episodes: 32 x 60 mins
It's 2026, and from their top secret island
base, somewhere in the Pacific,
billionaire Jeff Tracy and his sons Scott,
Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John adopt the
guise of International Rescue and utilize five
extraordinary rescue and surveillance
machines to monitor and traverse the world and
divert disasters. They are aided by
their undercover agent in Britain, Lady Penelope
and her chauffeur Parker, who take
to their extraordinary pink Rolls Royce -
FAB 1 - when required. Jeff Tracy's extended
entourage includes the Thunderbirds engineer and
all-round technical boffin, Brains,
the manservant Kyrano, and his beautiful daughter
Tin-Tin who is Alan Tracy's
girlfriend. Grandma Tracy also pops up from
time to time.
The Tracys must keep on their toes at all
times, ready to tackle trouble where
ever it strikes. Often times that maniacal
villain The Hood is behind all the trouble
This enigmatic enemy is skilled in black magic
and he regularly outwits the team
in his quest to steal their technical secrets,
but fortunately for the world, he just
as regularly comes unstuck...
What can one say about this series? - Gerry and
Sylvia Anderson's production
is a tv triumph. In the UK, it's a legendary
production, loved by many, adored by
more, and obsessed upon by far too many others.
And it's easy to see why.
"Thunderbirds" has fantastic machines,
fantastic locations, fantastic puppets,
fantastic action, fantastic explosions and
destruction - it's a fan-boy's dream, really.
There's little point detailing the history
of this top creation, when so many other
sites on the great www explore the minutiae
of the show. Suffice it to say, whatever
aspect of this series interests you, you can bet
there's a web site out there which
It's interesting to note the series was original
conceived as a half-hour format, but
impresario producer Lew Grade had so
much enthusiasm for the pilot episode
he decided the filmmakers should extend the running
time, to a full hour per episode. This
decision was made after nine half-hour episodes had already been filmed
several more were too far down the production
process to scrap. The extra
footage had to be shoehorned in, and several
models had to be specially rebuilt
for the additional scenes.
"Thunderbirds" success spawned two
spin-off feature films, Thunderbirds
(1966) and Thundebird 6 (1968),
and a later animated series from Japan
called "Thunderbirds 2086" utilized
the franchise name, if not the content.
In August 2002, film producers Working Title
put to bed years of speculation
when they announced a live-action feature
film version of the series. The
movie was directed by Jonathan Frakes and
released in July 2004, but
alas too much tinkering with the concept caused
the project to misfire
with critics and fans and the box office return
was poor. What a shame
that rights holders Carlton haven't developed
their plans for an all-new
puppet series. Just before the film got its
greenlight, they put together
terrific footage fearturing new puppets and
model ships with some
CGI assistance, serving as a trailer for a potential
new series. But
alas, nothing further developed.
Still, we have the original series to savour.
And one that continues to air,
forty years on from its original broadcast.
"Thunderbirds" is still indisputably,
1 - piloted by Scott Tracy
This is a silver rocket ship of superior speed,
regularly first on the scene to help.
It is launched from beneath the Tracy Island
swimming pool, which slides back
to reveal the ship below. Thunderbird 1 has
movable wings, enabling greater
in-flight stability and vertical landings,
2 - piloted by Virgil Tracy
A huge green utilitarian craft; a transporter with
interchangeable pods. These
numbered pods contain an array of smaller machines
and, most famously,
Thunderbird 4. Thunderbird 2 is located in
a hidden hangar. A rockface slides
down and the ship emerges on to a section
of road. Palm trees swing out of the
way and the road elevates in to a ramp to
enable blast-off. Machines in the
other pods include:
Mole - a machine for boring, drilling and tunneling Domo
1 - a demoltion vehicle The
Firefly - a fire extinguisher IR3
Truck - a dish-bearing transmitter truck The
Thunderiser - a giant blaster gun Elevator
Cars - mobile support platforms, operated by remote control The Mobile Crane
- a mobile crane with a huge telescopic arm Recovery Vehicles - various
vehicles used for rescues
3 - piloted by Alan Tracy
A red rocket ship, used primarily to get the
brothers into space, and to the orbiting
space station Thunderbird 5. This vehicle
blasts off via the Round House on Tracy
4 - piloted by Gordon Tracy
A yellow aquatic vehicle, used for underwater
missions. Thunderbird 4 is held
in Pod 4 (of course). On occasion, the ship
launches directly from Tracy Island,
either by slipway or jetty.
5 - manned by JohnTracy
Not a ship as such, rather, it's an orbiting
space station with a docking facility
for Thunderbird 3.
1. Trapped In The sky 17.
Desperate Intruder 2. Pit Of Peril 18.
30 Minutes After Noon 3. City Of Fire 19.
The Imposters 4. Sun Probe
20. The Man From MI5 5. The Uninvited
21. Cry Wolf 6. The Mighty Atom 22.
Danger At Ocean Deep 7. Vault Of Death 23.
The Duchess Assignment 8. Operation Crash Dive 24.
Attack Of The Alligators 9. Move And You're Dead 25.
The Cham Cham 10. Martian Invasion 26.
Security Hazard 11. Brink Of Disaster 27.
Atlantic Inferno 12. The Perils Of Penelope 28.
Path Of Destruction 13. Terror In New York City
29. Alias Mr Hackenbacker 14. End Of The Road 30.
Lord Parker's 'Oliday 15. Day Of Disaster 31.
Ricochet 16. The Edge Of Impact 32.
Give Or Take A Million
prod: Gerry Anderson
Hill writers: Gerry
Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Alan Fennell,
Spooner, Martin Clump, Donald Robertson,
Alan Pattillo directors: Alan
Pattillo, Desmond Saunders, David Elliott,
Lane, Brian Burgess music & fx: Barry
Gray spfx sup: Derek
Meddings character visualisation: Sylvia
Anderson art director: Bob
Bell sup sculptor: John
Brown charac ops: Christine
Granville, Mary Turner voices: Peter
Dyneley (Jeff Tracy)
Shane Rimmer (Scott Tracy)
Holliday (Virgil Tracy / episodes 1 - 26)
Wilkin (Virgil Tracy / episodes 27 - 32)
Zimmerman (Alan Tracy)
Graham (Gordon / Brains / Parker / Kyrano)
Barrett (John Tracy / The Hood)
Anderson (Lady Penelope)
Finn (Tin-Tin / Grandma)
The place to go for all-things
Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History
Shaqui's excellent Adnerson site
features all those amazing
comic strips based on the various
with Thunderbirds up there with
the best of them...
Clean, clear and efficient. Paul
Jasper's pages take the uninitiated
on a three page introduction to
the series.Yes, yes, there's not much
to it. But it's uncluttered and
A single page from Trekker fills
you in on the basics, the characters and
episodes with a smattering of pics for
Now this is cool. Dr Bob's Thunderbirds
Archives feature five pages of
superb scanned pictures, taken from
back volumes of "TV2000" and three
"Thunderbirds Extra" albums...