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EDITIONS
Breakfast Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
The Godfather of Thunderbirds
Lady Penelope's Pink Rolls-Royce was six feet long
The acting's wooden, the plots are preposterous and the sets are made of cardboard.

But Thunderbirds is just as popular today as it was in the mid-sixties, when it first hit British TV Screens.

  • Lady Penelope was modelled on Gerry's wife Sylvia
    Believe it or not, Anderson once said he hated puppets and that he never wanted to work with them again.

    He began making puppet shows for TV in 1958, with a series called The Adventures of Twizzle.

    "It was a diabolical programme - terrifying puppets and thick carpet thread for strings, " he told Breakfast.

    He didn't want to make a puppet show at all - but he and his friends were desperate for money. They took the commission, hoping it would lead to more serious TV work.

    Instead, they ended up making some of the world's most innovative children's shows.

    Parker's voice was based on a favourite waiter
    "I was so ashamed to be making puppet shows that I tried desperately to make them more like a live action show, " explained Gerry.

    With lavish sets and sophisticated special effects, each episode of Thunderbirds cost the equivalent of 1m to make.

    That meant that the characters had to have American accents, so the show could be sold on to the States.

    Gerry Anderson: never wanted to work with puppets
    The exceptions were Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker - a retired safe-cracker.

    "Parker was my favourite," Gerry said. "He had a wonderful face and I thought, he deserves to have interesting mannerisms."

    They modelled Parker's voice and mannerisms on a waiter at their favourite restaurant.

    "He was very proud of having worked for her majesty for ten years," explained Gerry. "So we sent the actor playing Parker down to the Kings' Arms every day - and that's how he got the voice."

    To see Gerry Anderson's interview in full, click on watch/listen box on the top right hand side of this story.

    Gerry Anderson's new book, What Made Thunderbirds Go, is published today by the BBC, at 16.99

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Gerry Anderson
    tells Breakfast he always wanted to be Steven Spielberg
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