Gerry Anderson, the British television writer/producer who loved to imagine the near future, died today at the age of 83, after suffering from multiple dementia for the past couple years. His death was announced by his son on his blog.
Anderson is perhaps best known for both his Supermarionation projects such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, as well as his live action series UFO and perhaps his most well known series in the U.S., Space: 1999.
Fanderson, the Gerry Anderson fan group, has a nice obituary.
I remember seeing Thunderbirds as a kid…my mother was familiar with it and some of his previous efforts, having come from Ireland by way of England, and she always insisted one of the “rag tag” fleet ships in Battlestar Galactica came from Thunderbirds – I never quite saw that.
But Space: 1999 was one of the first SF series to garner my attention. The details of the base and the Eagles really drew me. It seemed that there was at least some attempt at realism in certain areas – the Eagles appeared relatively functional if not depicted in realistic flight – provided a level of detail that I love.
It was much later in life that I was able to go back and enjoy his earlier efforts, notably UFO, his first live action show for which Space: 1999 was something of a spiritual sequel. UFO only lasted a single series of 26 episodes, but with a long break between due to the closure of the studio which also resulted in some cast departing.
Most memories of the show revolve around the moonbase women wearing the purple wigs and silver bodysuits…what fan doesn’t remember Lieutenant Ellis? But Anderson, along with his then-wife Sylvia, not only imagined the wig-wearing moonbase personnel but the upright collar fashions and sleek-body cars of then-10-years-hence 1980. They may not have quite come true, but it was at least a look at a slightly different near future, that wasn’t quite the same as the present.
When ITV asked about a second series of UFO after U.S. syndication ratings were promising, Gerry went to work designed a new larger moonbase, etc, as the space-based episodes seemed to be favorites. But when ITV decided not to proceed, Gerry took those ideas and the new designed, and pitched a new moon-based series: Space: 1999.
Currently, there are two revivals of Gerry’s works in progress. A film version of UFO has been in the works for some time, and I believe principal photography was started sometime last year, but word on it is so secretive there is very little information out there. Then there is the reboot of Space: 1999 being led by Jace Hall, which is still in early development.