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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 10:04 GMT
Ask Gerry Anderson: His answers
BBC News Online Entertainment invited users to send in their questions to Gerry Anderson, creator of classic adventure series Thunderbirds, which is currently being repeated on BBC Two.

What does FAB stand for?
Steve Mills, UK

Gerry says: FAB stands for absolutely nothing! In the Sixties when the series was made the abbreviation "fab" as in "fabulous" was all the rage and I just changed it a bit.

What did you really think of Blue Peter's version of Tracey Island?
Clare Foat, England

Gerry says: I thought it was splendid and in fact they have done it again this time around. Parents were frantic back in the early 90s when the Island could not be bought for love nor money and people still talk about how Blue Peter got them out of a jam at Christmas.

I'm 39 years old, and I remember a programme that I used to love from my early childhood. It was called Twizzle and it was about a boy whose arms and legs got longer and made a sort of cranking noise as they did so, but nobody else I know remember it at all.

Did you have anything to do with Twizzle? Did it actually exist or have I invented it?
Kim Ivory, England

Gerry says: Someone who remembers The Adventures of Twizzle - great. Yes, it was my first venture into puppet making, in fact it was my first venture into independent programme making. Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet et al owe everything to the series.

My fledging company in 1957 was offered the chance to make the series and we didn't dare turn it down as we had bills to pay. My intention had been to make blockbusters, but puppets came my way instead.

Twizzle was a living doll who could stretch his arms and legs to amazing lengths. At the time I was just embarrassed about the whole thing, and my aim became to make the puppets as good as possible, so that someone would offer us work with living actors. Instead the series was well received and I was offered another puppet series.

Why do you think Thunderbirds still has such an amazing appeal to people of all ages, when (I think partly thanks to Thunderbirds) science fiction shows have moved on so much, especially in the field of special effects?
Jeff Bartrop, UK

Gerry says: Thunderbirds has everything. Tension, good guys, bad guys, fantastic music, humour. Children will always be children, however old they are. No, seriously, I am thrilled by the way its popularity remains undimmed despite the years. It doesn't matter that the series is now 35 years old, I am still delighted when children tell me how much they are enjoying it.

I appreciate your re-screening of Thunderbirds, but I would like to know, if possible what this episode was called. It portrayed a landing on Mars, I think, and also some Rock Snakes firing on the lander. I think that it was one of yours, it was in the style of one of your episodes. I have tried and tried to get a copy, all to no avail. I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I am now nearly 45, help! Here's hoping.
Martin Holden, UK

Gerry says: I think the one you mean may be Martian Invasion, though it was not set on Mars. It was a devious plot by the Hood to obtain details of Thunderbirds One and Two by filming both craft on a movie set when Scott and Virgil arrive to save two actors, dressed as Martians, who are trapped in a cave. A lot of the programmes are now available on video in the High Street.

Do you ever wish there was a real life international rescue that operated throughout the world when disaster struck and would you ideally like it to be based on your characters and their vehicles?
Richard Newman, England

Gerry says: Yes, in fact there was an International Rescue organisation in the early 80s, a team of about 70 highly skilled volunteers who flew, courtesy of free seats from an airline, to the scene of a disaster. I was lucky enough to be their honorary president.

As a child brought up in the 80s, animated cartoons were all the craze (though I did like Terrahawks!). Did you ever consider doing Thunderbirds, or one of your other popular adventure series, as a cartoon?
Chatan Mistry, United Kingdom

Gerry says: Cartoons are not really my thing. What I am really interested in goes several steps further - computer generated images. I have made a short test film of Captain Scarlet this way and it was well received, so I would readily work in this format in the future.

Thunderbirds can be seen at 1800 every Tuesday on BBC Two.

See also:

19 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Captain Scarlet without strings
19 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Thunderbirds are going, going, gone
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