Gerry Anderson
Birth Name Gerald Alexander Abrahams
Born April 14, 1929
Bloomsbury, London, England
Died December 26, 2012 (age 83)
Oxfordshire, England
Nationality English
Occupation Film and television producer,
writer and director
Years Active 1957-2012
Notable works Supercar
Fireball XL5
Captain Scarlet
Space: 1999
Spouses Betty Wrightman (1952-1960)
Sylvia Anderson (1960-1981)
Mary Robbins (1981-2012)
Children Joy Anderson
Linda Anderson
Gerry Anderson Jr.
Jamie Anderson

Gerry Anderson MBE (April 14, 1929-December 26, 2012) was an English television and film producer, director, writer and occasional voice artist. He was known for his futuristic television programmes, especially his 1960s productions filmed in "Supermarionation" (a process involving the use of modified marionette puppets).

Anderson is widely considered the forefather to many current science fiction productions and is the main inspiration for Star Fleet's use of puppets, primarily from his famous 1965 series Thunderbirds. Anderson had no involvement in the series however, but is important given the influence he held over the show.

Early Life and CareerEdit

Gerald Alexander Abrahams was born in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital in Bloomsbury, London, and spent the early years of his life in Kilburn, and Neasden, London. He was educated at Kingsgate Infants School in Kilburn and Braintcroft Junior and Senior schools in Neasden, prior to winning a scholarship to Willesden County Grammar School.

Anderson began a career in photography, earning a traineeship with the British Colonial Film Unit after the Second World War. He developed an interest in film editing and moved on to Gainsborough Pictures, where he gained further experience. In 1947, he was conscripted for national service with the RAF. After completing his military service, he returned to Gainsborough, where he worked until the studio was closed in 1950. He then worked freelance on a series of feature films

Anderson's first television production was the 1957 Roberta Leigh children's series The Adventures of Twizzle. It was Anderson's first work with puppets, and the start of his long and successful collaborations with puppeteer Christine Glanville, special effects technician Derek Meddings and composer/arranger Barry Gray.

Anderson would go on to work on Leigh's other series in 1958; Torchy the Battery Boy, before springing off with Arthur Provis to create his first Supermarionation series Four Feather Falls. The partnership between Provis and Anderson crumbled soon after.

Going through financial troubles, Anderson/Provis Films would be rescued by Lew Grade of ATV, who offered to buy the sinking company. The first show produced by Anderson under ITV was Supercar in 1960. During this time, Anderson married Sylvia Thamm and from that point he would share joint credit with her on all productions from 1960-75. The next series by APF was the futuristic space adventure Fireball XL5 in 1962 and it was the company's biggest success yet, becoming the first Anderson series sold to an American TV network. APF began production on a new marionette series, Stingray (1964), the first British children's TV series to be filmed in color.

APF's next project for ATV was inspired by a mining disaster that occurred in West Germany in October 1963. This real-life drama inspired Anderson to create a new program format about a rescue organisation, which eventually became his most famous and popular series, Thunderbirds (1964–1966). Lew Grade was enthusiastic about the concept and agreed to back a series of 25 minutes, but upon seeing the 25 minute pilot "Trapped in the Sky", he jumped out of his seat and enthusiastically ordered that series instead be extended to 50 minutes. With a substantial increase in budget, the production was restructured to expand episodes already filmed or in pre-production, and create new 50-minute scripts for the remainder.

After APF was renamed Century 21 Productions, it enjoyed its greatest success with Thunderbirds, and the series made the Andersons world-famous. Grade and others were so convinced that Thunderbirds would be a success that a feature-film version of the series, Thunderbirds Are Go!, was proposed even before the pilot episode went to air.

However, despite the popularity of Thunderbirds, Lew Grade did not order for further episodes after 32 episodes. Anderson, acknowledging Grade is one you can't argue with, devised Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons which aired in 1967. The new series saw the advent of more realistic marionette characters which, thanks to improvements in electronics which allowed miniaturization of the lip-sync mechanisms, could now be built closer to normal human proportions.

Despite the cancellation of Thunderbirds, a second movie was made in 1968 titled Thunderbird 6, which was an unexpected flop. Anderson would create two more Supermarionation series; Joe 90 in 1968 and The Secret Service in 1969, the latter which would employ a mix of live action and Supermarionation.

Throughout the 70's, Anderson had moved on to what he always desired, creating live-action productions. His first live action TV series was UFO in 1970, which still largely employed Supermarionation-esque miniature models in shots. Gerry and Sylvia created the Spy thriller TV Series The Protectors in 1972, which was a large jump in traditional theme for them.

In 1975, Anderson created the live action sci-fi Space: 1999 starring Martin Landua and Barbara Bain. The series would mark the last partner production between Sylvia and Gerry Anderson, as their relationship had largely broken down by the end of the first series and were soon divorced. American writer Fred Freiberger, known for his association with the original Star Trek series, was brought in as Sylvia's replacement in the second series of Space: 1999. Under his direction, the show underwent strong cosmetic changes, largely considered by fans to be its downfall. This series marked the end of Anderson's association with ATV.

By the late 1970's Anderson's career had reached a low point, he found himself in strong financial difficulty. In the 1980's, Anderson formed a new partnership with Christopher Burr, creating Anderson Burr Pictures. Anderson returned to puppetry, creating Terrahawks, running from 1983 to 1986. Anderson claimed on record he'd rather forget the series.

Under AndersonBurr, they also created Dick Spanner PI, a stop motion detective comedy gumshoe along with a pilot for a proposed series Space Police, both in 1986. Space Police failed to find a buyer at first, until 1994 when Anderson was able to launch it as Space Precinct. Anderson co-created the puppet/CGI fantasy series Lavender Castle with Rodney Matthews in 1996.

By December 1999, Anderson was working on plans for a computer animated sequel to Captain Scarlet, and he showed early test reels at a few fan conventions. Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet was first aired in 2005.

Since 2010, Anderson had been diagnosed with Alzheimers, this only being publicized by June of 2012. Anderson died in his sleep on December 26, 2012.

Influence on Star FleetEdit

Gerry Anderson had no real involvement with Star Fleet, but the popularity of Thunderbirds in Japan is what prompted Go Nagai and Kimio Ikeda to create the series. Star Fleet is largely an imitation in style of Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation style.

Upon the release of the English dub in the UK in 1982, Anderson had called up Louis Elman at the production studio dubbing Star Fleet to inquire about it. Anderson was apparently worried his similarly natured series, Terrahawks would be overshadowed by Star Fleet. Fortunately for Anderson, quite the opposite seemed to have happened over the years. Unrelatedly, many sounds used in the English version of Star Fleet have been directly lifted off soundtracks from Anderson's Space: 1999.

Anderson was interviewed for the Making of Star Fleet because of the inspiration the series drew from his works. In it, Anderson mainly spoke about the influence of his series and similarities to the techniques in his series that were implemented in Star Fleet rather than giving any input on the series.


External LinksEdit