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Thunderbirds (TV Series 1965–1966) Poster

(1965–1966)

Trivia

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Each Thunderbirds puppet only had four teeth.
On the Christmas episode "Give Or Take A Million", there are calendars indicating that Christmas day is a Sunday, which it actually will be in 2067, when the episode is set.
The television relay tower (featured in the episode "Edge of Impact") is seen to be owned by British Telecommunications Ltd. The use of this company name in the series pre-dated the formation of the real-life British Telecommunications plc (or BT) by nearly twenty years.
It was while the Round House (through which Thunderbird 3 would be launched) that Derek Meddings realized that the design of the building was just right for Thunderbird 5, the International Rescue space station. Unable to come up with a convincing design before now, this was the last of the five Thunderbird craft that he created. By adding aerials and transmitters to the Round House, he developed the series' most unusual and effective vehicle, although it was to play only a minor part in the finished program.
Lady Penelope's unique pink Rolls Royce is based on the same twin front-wheel-steering Bedford coach used in the escape scene of The Italian Job (1969).
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Two vocal theme songs were considered before the famous march was chosen. One of these discarded themes, "Flying High" (performed by Gary Miller), can be heard at the end of the episode "Ricochet".
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Although never stated directly in any episode, according to Gerry Anderson this series takes place in the same "universe" as Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967) and Stingray (1964). Several marionettes were modeled after the actors providing their voices.
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The episode "Security Hazard" features extensive flashback footage from "End of the Road", "Sun Probe", "Trapped in the Sky" and "Day of Disaster" - so extensive, in fact, that it contains only around ten minutes of new material. The episode was made because the previous two episodes, "Attack of The Alligators" and "The Cham-Cham," had gone over budget and a flashback episode was needed to finish the show's first season. These particular episodes were specifically chosen as, having originally been filmed as half-hour episodes, writer Alan Pattillo knew that the stories could be more easily condensed down to about ten minutes each.
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Only two episodes were made in which Virgil's vehicle, Thunderbird Two, was not involved in the story's primary rescue - "Terror In New York City" and "The Imposters". "Terror In NYC"'s non-use of Thunderbird Two was forced because the episode was originally made as a half-hour show; when Sir Lew Grade of ITC demanded the series be remade in one-hour format, AP Films had writer Alan Fennell write in the subplot where Thunderbird Two is mistaken for an enemy bomber and attacked by a US warship; ironically, this helped make the episode the one most fondly remembered by original fans of the show. It also explains why this episode needed two directors (David Elliott and David Lane).
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After Lew Grade, head of ITC, viewed the pilot episode, he remarked, "That's not a television series! That's a feature film!"
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The script for the first episode of Thunderbirds was dictated by Gerry Anderson to his wife in four parts at their home in Portugal.
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Three Thunderbirds story scripts originally owned by Alan Pattillo ("The Cham-Cham", "Give Or Take A Million" and "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker"), were sold at auction in Melbourne, Australia, for AU$150.00 each on 12 August 1990.
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The opening and closing credits of the first episode ("Trapped In The Sky") differ entirely from the rest of the series: the music arrangements are slightly different (in the closing credits, for example, the music for Thunderbird 1's first launch is used); sound effects are used in the montage (including Kyrano's scream); the Mole is not used as a standard picture in the closing credits. It is the only episode where Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson are credited for writing an episode of the show.
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The faces of the Tracys were composites of those of famous actors: Jeff was modeled upon Lorne Greene of Bonanza (1959) fame, Alan modeled upon Robert Reed of The Protectors (1964), Scott after Sean Connery and John after Adam Faith and Charlton Heston. Virgil is an older-looking Alan and Gordon a younger version of John.
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In order to increase the realism of the series, close-ups of real human hands were often inserted when a character is shown about to manipulate an object (i.e. open a drawer, cock a gun).
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In addition to the close-ups with human hands, three episodes pioneered a technique in which a human hand appeared in the same frame as the puppets.
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There is also the appearance of a human face (or, at least part of one) when Lady Penelope looks through the entrance door of the Bank of England in the episode "Vault Of Death".
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In the episode "Trapped In The Sky", Alan Tracy's voice is completely different from all the other episodes that he appears in. In his single short line of dialog, he is voiced by Ray Barrett, although Matt Zimmerman (who did Alan's voice for the rest of the series) is credited in the closing titles (Zimmerman had not yet been asked to do Alan Tracy's voice).
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Some of the guest characters were named after real people. For example: Lt. Bob Meddings (seen in the episodes "Trapped In The Sky") was named after Art Director Bob Bell and visual effects supervisor Derek Meddings. Dr. Korda (seen in the episode "Day Of Disaster") was named after Hungarian-born film producer/director Sir Alexander Korda; Lady Penelope's alter ego Wanda Lamour (from the episode "The Cham-Cham") was named after puppeteer Wanda Brown (née Wanda Webb).
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The episode "Operation Crash-Dive" was originally entitled "The Test Crew".
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The music accompanying the journey of the Martian Space Probe in the episode "Day of Disaster" is entitled "The March of the Oysters". Originally composed by Barry Gray for the Stingray (1964) episode "Secret of the Giant Oyster", the piece is also heard in "30 Minutes After Noon", "The Impostors" and "The Cham-Cham".
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In the episode "Brink of Disaster", a bogus telegram reveals the location of Lady Penelope's mansion in Foxleyheath.
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In the episode "Trapped In The Sky", a short piece of Barry Gray's "Formula Five" track, composed and recorded for Fireball XL5 (1962), can be heard on the monitors in Thunderbird 5.
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In the episode "The Uninvited", the Zombites' jet fighters are adapted and re-sprayed WASP aircraft from Stingray (1964).
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In the episode "The Mighty Atom", the teletype printout gives the date on which the atomic cloud is blown away from Melbourne as 6 October and it is then stated that the explosion at the plant took place the previous Monday. If this is 2064, the explosion therefore occurred on 29 September. It is also stated in this episode that International Rescue were not operating when the Australian plant exploded in 2064.
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In the episode "Vault of Death", the City of London Heliport is partially constructed from the remains of "Stingray"'s Marineville Tower.
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The Hood has never been referred to by any name on all but two episodes - "Martian Invasion", where he calls himself Agent 79 in his transmissions to General X, and "Edge Of Impact", where he gives his codename as "671" when he contacts General Bron. "Edge of Impact" is also the only episode in which we see the Hood acting with motives not involving International Rescue.
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David Holliday was the only American actor cast for any voice roles. Apart from Virgil Tracy, Holliday provided the voices of just three "guest" characters during the series.
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Before recording for the second season was due to commence, David Holliday, the original voice of Virgil, had relocated to the United States, so Jeremy Wilkin replaced Holliday as the voice of Virgil for the second season and the two Thunderbirds movies Thunderbirds Are GO (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968).
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Lady Penelope was once described as "an advertisement for British fashion", by The Sunday Mirror newspaper.
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Issue 65 of "Thunderbirds - the Comic" revealed the Hood's real name as Belah Gaat.
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Fenella Fielding was Gerry Anderson's first choice for the voice of Lady Penelope.
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The Thunderbirds' radio code "F-A-B", meaning "message received and understood", didn't stand for anything, it was just supposed to sound "hip". In fact, when asked what it stood for, Gerry Anderson once replied, with some bemusement, "Fab," as though it were obvious. Later, due in part to fan-submitted stories, F-A-B came to mean Fully Advised and Briefed, in keeping with P-W-O-R (Proceeding With Orders Received), a similar radio confirmation code in the series Stingray.
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Each episode contained 90-120 special effects, filmed at between 72 and 125 frames per second.
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John Tracy's character design and mannerisms were a slightly altered redesign of Lt. Fisher from Stingray (1964). Gerry Anderson claims to have disliked the character's "all-American" quality, among numerous other reasons he has cited over the years, which is why John is so rarely seen in the series.
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According to Gerry Anderson in the 2005 "Top 50 Kids TV of all time" the show cost the equivalent of one million pounds an episode to make.
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To add to the timelessness the "Thunderbirds" series, great attention was paid to the smallest detail. For example, none of the cars had registration plates giving away the date.
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When the initial concept for "Thunderbirds" was drawn up, it was agreed that Kyrano's daughter Tin Tin should have a "romantic interest" in Thunderbird 3 astronaut, Alan Tracy.
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When the launch sequence of Thunderbird 2 was shot, pilot Virgil Tracy was shown being taken to the craft in civilian clothing. When the completed sequence was cut together, he was seen to have mysteriously gained a uniform. To provide continuity, a scene was later shot and added showing his uniform appearing in the cockpit.
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Lady Penelope's stately home is modelled on Stourhead House, Wiltshire, England. There is an commemorative plate on display there acknowledging this.
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According to "Guinness World Records 2008", the character of Jeff Tracy holds the record for the "Highest Earning TV Character", said to be worth an estimated $US50 billion; assets included maintenance of Tracy Island, all the Thunderbird machines, and so on.
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All five Tracy sons were named after famous pioneering astronauts of the 1960s: Scott after Scott Carpenter; Virgil after (Virgil) Gus Grissom; Alan after Alan Shepard; Gordon after (Leroy) Gordon Cooper; and John after John Glenn.
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In "The Duchess Assignment", the Duchess of Royston was based on the distinguished British stage actress 'Dame Edith Evans (I)', best known for her role as Lady Bracknell in the film version of Oscar Wilde's novel, The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). This is reinforced by Ray Barrett's marvelous voice for the character, which understandably had the rest of the cast in stitches at the recording session.
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This was producer Gerry Anderson's personal favorite out of all of his productions.
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The only time Rolls-Royce has officially sanctioned the use of its famous vertical grille and "Spirit of Ecstasy" was on Lady Penelope's pink six-wheel Rolls.
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The series was released on Blu-Ray in 2008, but this release quickly came under fire for cropping the shows to a 16:9 aspect ratio, so as to "enhance" the episodes for widescreen televisions.
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Gerry Anderson would take the sets/props/etc. and have them "dirtied up" and made to look worn and damaged before filming, giving them a more realistic appearance. This technique was later used extensively by George Lucas in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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Gordon was the only character never to radio home base from any primary rescue he was involved in (viewers never see the 'flashing eyes' sequence from his picture portrait).
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

By the finale of the series and film "Thunderbird 6," Lady Penelope has lost both her famous car and her yacht. Parker gambled away FAB 2 in "The Man From MI 5", and FAB 1 was destroyed in the crash of Skyship One at the end of the second feature film Thunderbird 6 (1968).
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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