Life story

Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds TV Heartbreaking Real Life Story

Jamie Anderson, the son of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet creator Gerry Anderson, has opened up about the emotional real-life events that inspired his father’s work, in a new documentary about the TV icon’s life.

Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted will launch on the Britbox streaming service on April 14, 2022 and will see Jamie explore the story of “what made the man who for many made them grow up”.

Gerry Anderson, who died on December 26, 2012, would have turned 93 today (April 14), with the documentary exploring his life – from early childhood, to the death of his brother, marriages and being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – interwoven with clips from his classic TV series that many real-life events inspired.

Gerry Anderson created TV series including Stingray, Thunderbirds and Joe 90

Producer and director Ben Field and Jamie Anderson drew inspiration from more than 30 hours of never-before-seen archival footage of interviews with Gerry Anderson’s biographers – while digitally recreating the on-screen TV icon for ‘him to permit [Gerry] appear on screen to tell stories from his point of view for the first time.

Including interviews with former colleagues and family members, Jamie Anderson told the Daily Star that the documentary reflects “the positivity he [his shows] given to so many millions, against the great tragedy and sadness of one person’s life.”

Speaking about his father’s work, he added: “It’s not just science fiction universes, with a load of puppet characters, it’s family units, stories and tragedies, heroics, which are completely from real life.”

Jamie Anderson worked with director Ben Price to produce Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted
Jamie Anderson worked with director Ben Price to produce Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted

Moments explored in the documentary include his relationship with his older brother Lionel who was a pilot in World War II – who was Gerry’s hero – the documentary suggesting he was the inspiration for Thunderbirds, having starred in a film by same name while in office. at a US airbase.

However, Lionel died during an operation during the war, and interview clips in the documentary reveal a story of the immediate aftermath of Lionel’s death, when Gerry was told “It should have been you”, some something his son Jamie Anderson was shocked to find out. in the making of the documentary.

“I think the story of what dad’s mum told him right after Lionel died. I mean, my God, that was something – because I had never heard that before. He didn’t never told me.”

He added, “that particular clip where he says it, and stops long enough that I can see the hurt is still as raw as it was in 1944. Things like that were amazing to learn.”

Gerry Anderson died in 2012 at the age of 83
Gerry Anderson died in 2012 at the age of 83

Other moments explored throughout the documentary include Gerry’s weddings and the birth of his children, with Jamie saying that later in the documentary: “It’s not all dark and dark, and knowing he’s found a kind of joy was the flip side of all bad things.”

The documentary is also interwoven with classic moments from Gerry’s many TV series, including Stingray, Supercar, Joe 90, Secret Service, Thunderbirds, Terrahawks and Captain Scarlet, which are sure to hold fond memories for generations of fans.

They also hold many memories, unsurprisingly for Jamie, who revealed he chose the Terrahawks ‘oh a baby’ music video as a reference when his mother was pregnant with him – as the last 13 episodes of the series were made at His birth.

Terrahawks holds fond memories for Gerry's son, Jamie Anderson
Terrahawks holds fond memories for Gerry’s son, Jamie Anderson

The eye-opening and moving documentary makes viewers feel like they’re rediscovering the programs for the first time, bringing a new poignancy to the stories, with Jamie saying: “It changes your perspective on them, and I’m sure you’ve watched Captain Scarlet and thought wow Colonel White is the perfect father figure who was the antithesis of Dad’s impression of Joe [Gerry’s father]and Captain Scarlet – he’s clearly the hero who comes from the dead.

“Not the hero who is lost and never returns, but the man who returns. The hero brother – a trait he wishes could have been possible in real life.

“Every show you find something new, and I love that this is the result.”

Gerry Anderson also created the superhero Captain Scarlet
Gerry Anderson also created the superhero Captain Scarlet

Speaking of the show, Jamie also revealed the behind-the-scenes story of a meeting between his parents and Cliff Richard, which led to Cliff and Hank Marvin appearing in the 1966 film Thunderbirds are Go as puppets.

“Behind the scenes, they had them do a performance of Shooting Star, so the puppeteers could then try to mimic what the real performers were doing,” Jamie said.

“If you look at Cliff’s performance in there, the puppeteers did an almost perfect job of replicating his real dance moves. It’s really lovely.”

The original film is also screened at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham on Saturday 16 April 2022, ahead of a concert celebrating the TV series’ many themes in the city.

Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin starring in the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go!
Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin starring in the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go!

The events follow the premiere of Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted at the BFI Imax in London which was held on April 9, 2022, with Jamie saying he was touched by the public reaction to the documentary.

“To have a real live audience laughing, gasping, crying. They were rocked by a wave of emotion.

“I don’t think I could have hoped for a better response to that. Ben and I were so touched.”

He added: “That’s the kind of thing I want audiences to walk away with, it’s wow, I can watch these shows through a new lens now, and think, isn’t that amazing? Watch all of these real-life influences.”

“There are so many tragic personal events, crammed into a life story. There’s at least one thing that seems to connect with everyone. I think, as he says at the end, ‘it’s the ‘story of a very human being.’

Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted is available on BritBox from April 14.

There are 900,000 people with dementia in the UK. The Alzheimer Society offers a range of vital services to support anyone with dementia. Visit or call 0333 150 3456 for more information.

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