Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds, UFO, and Space: 1999, amongst many other legendary British sci-fi tv series, has died in Oxfordshire, England. He was 83, and had suffered from mixed dementia over the past few years, according to his son Jamie.
Anderson’s production company created “Supermarionation,” in which actors’ voice recordings are connected to sensors in puppet heads, so that the puppet mouths synchronize perfectly with the dialogue. This was leaps and bounds ahead of any other puppet show of the early 1960s, and is one of the hallmarks of Thunderbirds. Though none of the series using the process had very long runs, they have extremely loyal fandoms that continue today.
His live-action series, in particular the very cool UFO, and the Martin Landau/Barbara Bain-starring Space: 1999, also have cult followings – the box sets are highly recommended classic sci-fi viewing.
Author Neil Gaiman tweeted “Gerry Anderson made my childhood better. (My favorite Thunderbird was 4, Gordon’s, because I could legitimately play with it in the bath.)” Noted astronomer and science blogger Phil Plait tweeted “UFO & Space:1999 were fave shows of mine when I was a kid. Prof. Victor Bergman made me want to be a scientist. Gerry Anderson, 1929-2012.” From Doctor Who and Torchwood‘s John Barrowman came “Your shows introduced me to a whole new world of Scifi”. And Mythbusters’ Grant Imihara shared, “So sad to hear about #GerryAnderson. Loved #Thunderbirds growing up. #ThunderbirdsareGO!”
“To those who met him Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man. His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.”
BBC America blog Anglophenia has posted five episodes of Anderson’s Supermarionation in action, in tribute to its creator. Here are the openings for Thunderbirds (1965), Space: 1999 (1975), and my personal favorite Anderson work, UFO (1970):
On behalf of the writers and Mob of readers here at SciFiMafia.com, our hearts go out to Gerry Anderson’s family, friends and fans. His work will continue to entertain and inspire for generations to come.