Thunderbirds Are Go! Again

Two years ago, Gerry Anderson made an impromptu announcement during a BBC News interview about commemorative Thunderbirds stamps: “Announcement – I am going to make a new series of Thunderbirds. And that’s official.”

Gerry Anderson making the unexpected announcement back in January 2011 – now we know what he was referring to.

When the sad news of Anderson’s death broke on Boxing Day last Christmas, we wondered briefly whether he had managed to make any headway with that project, but assumed it had probably died with him.

Until today, with the exciting news that ITV, Pukeko Pictires and Weta Digital, the FX team behind The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, are teaming up for a new CG animated series to be shown in the UK on CITV.

The series will comprise 26  half hour episodes which are due to start airing in 2015. It will involve a unique mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets, with all-CG characters, including the five Tracy brothers.

Thunderbirds are Go! will be executive produced by Estelle Hughes for ITV Studios, Giles Ridge for ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) and Richard Taylor and Andrew Smith for Pukeko Pictures. The series head writer is Rob Hoegee (Generator Rex, Teen Titans, Ben 10, Slugterra.)

Denise O Donoghue, Managing Director ITV Studios UK, comments: “Thunderbirds is a highly respected brand that continues to hold recognition around the world. This cult series is often credited as changing the history of animation and action-adventure, and we look forward to taking the show to another level while retaining the much-loved heritage that has endured over the past 50 years.” To be honest, we’re not sure the original series was ever, “credited as changing the history of animation” since it wasn’t animated, but hey, she’s obviously a little over-excited.

Richard Taylor, co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, says: “Thunderbirds was a hugely influential television series in my childhood. Having watched it originally in black and white, it was only years later that I discovered the full and rich world that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Derek Meddings, Mike Trimm and their team created. It is thrilling therefore to think we have the opportunity to work with ITV on this new series inspired by this most wonderful of British shows. I personally, together with the teams here at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, look forward to designing and creating an inspirational world that will engage the imagination of a whole new generation as it did for us nearly half a century ago.”

Andrew Smith, CEO of Pukeko Pictures, adds: “Pukeko Pictures is focussed on high-quality value-based programming, and we are thrilled to be associated with such an iconic brand, one that brilliantly encompasses family values, heroism and generosity.  We are very proud to partner with ITV Studios to create a new era of Thunderbirds.”

We just hope they don’t change the iconic designs of the Thunderbirds themselves too much.

It’s just a crying shame Anderson will not get to see the series himself, he was clearly so excited about it.