Thunderbirds Are Real! Answers to Correspondents

Daily Mail (London), September 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Thunderbirds Are Real! Answers to Correspondents


Byline: JAMES BLACK

QUESTION

The new Thunderbirds movie features live action and actors. But were the old Thunderbirds puppets based on actors of the time?

ALL the puppet characters used in Gerry Anderson's productions were based on real people and sometimes a well-known actor was used as a model. Scott Tracey, for example, was based on Sean Connery while Lady Penelope was based on Gerry's wife Sylvia Anderson (she was voiced by her).

In other cases the voices were copied from real people. Actor Francis Matthews gave Captain Scarlet a Cary Grant-style voice, while Parker was based on a waiter in a pub near the studios where the Anderson productions were made.

Dr Colin Barron, Dunblane.

CAPTAIN Scarlet in Gerry Anderson's puppet series was modelled on Cary Grant, while Troy Tempest, the hero of Stingray, was based on James Garner.

I also recall that Cliff Richard And The Shadows - as puppets - were in the 1966 big screen production Thunderbirds Are Go.

And Prof Stanley Unwin - TV's authority on, and creator of, 'gobbledygook' - was a regular character in The Secret Service as ex-military chaplain Father Unwin, a parish priest directing special agents to defeat the ungodly.

Cy Young, Queen's Park, London.

WHEN the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was set up on October 7, 1958, its first objective, Project Mercury, was to put a manned spacecraft into orbit around the Earth, observe human performance there, and recover it safely. It then set about finding the right people to face this challenge.

The selection process to find men of 'the right stuff' began in January 1959. The selection committee screened 508 test pilots and chose 110 to put forward to NASA. By April of that year, three months of tests had whittled this number down to 18, seven of whom would be chosen for the first flights.

On April 1, 1959, the head of the Space Task Group Robert Gilruth announced the names of the first American astronauts: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn, Virgil I. 'Gus' Grissom, Alan B. Shepard, Walter M.

Schirra and Donald K. 'Deke' Slayton. The first five names were later chosen by Gerry Anderson as his names for the Tracy brothers.

The Thunderbirds name comes from the famous pilot training site Thunderbird Airfield in Arizona.

Keith Carpenter, Miami, Florida.

QUESTION Golden Wonder is to bring back Ringos. What other favourites would people like to see back in the shops?

FURTHER to earlier suggestions, there is a website - aquarterof.

co.uk - where you can still buy many old sweets which most thought had disappeared.

Lisa Cox, Nantwich, Cheshire.

WITHOUT wishing to put a damper on the idea of bringing back old favourites, most of these items disappeared because people stopped buying them. …

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