RIP Gerry Anderson, who died today in Britain at age 83. Gerry, along with co-creator Sylvia Anderson, produced some of the most mad and most epic modernist SF television of the 1960s and 1970s, and continued working separately after he and Sylvia broke up between Series 1 and 2 of Space: 1999.

While not as globally famous as Doctor Who, you know his work. Thunderbirds, the global cult classic. Supercar, which never made any damn sense but was crazy awesome all the same. UFO, their first live-action series. Joe 90. Fireball XL-5. Stingray. Space Precinct. Our two household favourites, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Space: 1999 (series one, anyway). That’s not even the whole list.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – and its worthy reboot/successor, Captain Scarlet (2005) – doesn’t get the mention it should, much of the time. The title character dies in the first ten minutes, and yes, he’s really dead. The rest of the series, he’s a Mysteron replicant. The war is started – thanks to a misunderstanding – by Earth; the resulting terror campaign is a conflict of nerves, to destroy Terran civilisation. In some episodes, the Mysterons win. And, shot in 1966, all the combat aircraft are flown by women.


Pilot Ready Room, Cloudbase. Combat pilots Destiny (Juliette Pontoin, French, from Paris), Harmony (Chan Kwan, Chinese, but born in Tokyo), and Melody (Magnolia Jones, African-American, from Atlanta). Take that, Star Trek.

Angels Symphony and Rhapsody are off-duty, so not in this picture.

I only met Gerry Anderson once, very briefly, at a convention. He was warm, friendly, gregarious, and talking to about a zillion fans in a row all at once, so it’s not even really a meeting. I didn’t know him. But I knew his work, and particularly, I knew his and Sylvia’s work. His shows weren’t always good – particularly not after Sylvia left – but sometimes, even often, they were amazing. While I know more than enough not to conflate the work with the artist, I’ll still miss him.

Might be time look up some episodes of Twizzle, and then for a Captain Scarlet (2005) marathon. From the start, to the finish. It was a hell of a run, Gerry. Thanks.