|The newly made Lady Penelope puppet for 'Thunderbirds 1965'.|
This week, Thunderbirds reaches its 50th anniversary, with September 30th marking half a century since the first episode debuted on TV a lifetime ago in 1965. As you may know, there are three brand new Thunderbirds episodes currently in production, funded by a Kickstarter campaign that many of us contributed to. These new episodes (not related to the new Thunderbirds Are Go reboot) are using the soundtracks from adventures that had only been released in audio form in the 1960s, and and now being visualised by a team who have meticulously crafted puppets, sets, and models based on the original series. The first clip from an episode has just been released on You Tube. Here it is:http://youtu.be/2MstQXIIQTM
Fifty years ago this week, this is the issue of TV21 that was on sale when the first Thunderbirds episode was screened. Issue No.37, dated October 2nd...
Despite being the official comic of the Gerry Anderson productions (A.P. Films) there's no mention within its pages of Thunderbirds at all. However, the ongoing Lady Penelope strip was still running of course, having been a regular strip since issue 1. Now, for the first time, readers would also see her on TV in the first Thunderbirds episode Trapped In the Sky and the mystery of why TV21 had featured her in the comic would be solved. Here's the Lady Penelope strip from this week in 1965...
By January 1966, Lady Penelope would spin off into her own successful comic and a regular Thunderbirds strip would begin in TV21. (See this old post here plus this post on Thunderbirds in the comics here.)
Thunderbirds became such a huge success and part of our culture. I still clearly remember anticipating that first episode from the moment it was announced in the Daily Mirror that Gerry Anderson was making a series that would "be like Supercar, Stingray, and Fireball XL5 rolled into one" (or words to that effect). I was six years old at the time and mistakenly thought it meant the new show would team up Supercar, Stingray and Fireball! (What a show that could have been!) I certainly wasn't disappointed with what Thunderbirds actually turned out to be, though.
Fifty years later (and it definitely does feel like fifty years) there's a new revamped Thunderbirds Are Go series on CiTV, with related merchandise (and soon a new comic) in the shops, plus the new classic Thunderbirds 1965 in production to be released on DVD next year. A remarkable achievement for a part of pop culture that has entertained millions across the world.