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F.A.B Thunderbirds are Go!

Early 1960's children craved action adventures and a trip to the Saturday morning picture show was eagerly awaited as a highlight of the week. Excited to find out what would happen to your favourite hero in this week's installment following the previous week's cliffhanger ending, you could barely contain yourself and households all over Britain would be woken early, sleepy parents would be pulled from their beds and breakfast rushed in-order to be number one, to be first in 'The Queue'. For anyone unfamiliar with 'the queue' this is the standard method whereby 'civilised' people wait in turn for something (anything) to happen.

Queuing for Saturday morning pictures was our first introduction to how 'jolly foreigner' behaved when waiting his/her turn. The glass in the doors of many a picture palace bear the imprint of squashed young faces as the mob behind surged forward as the first door opened and a tsunami of little people swept through the foyer all aiming for ticket, first, and then sweets.

Understand this; Saturday morning pictures provided the youth of the nation more than one treat. This was a multi-layered gobstopper of a treat! Firstly, you were released from the confines of parents, teachers and school regimes - see queuing as testament to secondly you were provided a time to legitimately gorge on popcorn and Kiora orange before, during and between the third and the most enjoyable treat, the staple diet of cartoons and action adventure movie shorts.

With the attention span of a goldfish, for children, cartoons and movie shorts were the right length as they brought you so many high points you left the pictures exhausted - well at least for 10 minutes until the next wave of Kiora kicked in.

Tapping into this style of film presentation, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson created a succession of hit TV programs including the now world famous, Thunderbirds. They carried their young and excited audience (and their not so young audience) along by way of a series of cliffhanger events just like the Saturday Movie shorts.

Thunderbirds built upon the popularity and success of the Andersons' previous hit shows which included Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. Thunderbirds, like it's predecessors was a new take on the old puppet show and was made using a process dubbed 'Supermarionation' which teamed big production values with highly skilled puppetry. As the last in a line of increasingly successful shows, Thunderbirds enjoyed a bigger production budget allowing the scriptwriters to experiment with bigger and more dramatic cliffhanger plotlines nearly all of which involved the Thunderbirds team in saving the world from one threat or another.

The basic premise and storyline for Thunderbirds was set around on the Tracy family who, about 100 years in the future, operate International Rescue, an organisation which attended and resolved natural, and some unnatural, disasters. International Rescue had at its disposal a number of fantastic vehicles including a number of spaceships and other futuristic machinery, and for a lot of boys and girls these machines, along with one other vehicle that we'll encounter in a bit, were the real stars of the shows. Rocket planes; a heavy load moving plane; a space station; reusable space shuttle and submersibles, fantastic machines for everyone - and all developed in the early 60's.

The main characters of International Rescue were the multi-millionaire father of the clan; Jeff Tracy, sons Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John who along with their servants operated from Tracey Island. There were two more characters who were equally important to the show; International rescues' London agent Lady Penelope and her faithful butler come-chauffeur, 'Nosey' Parker. And as a special treat for the girls, Lady Penelope was driven in a futuristic pink Rolls Royce.

Anyone who grew up with the original shows will now be in a state of memory overload. For anyone too young to remember the show, well hey you should outlive us oldies so that should be some compensation and you must remember the film? The degree of merchandising surrounding the original TV series was immense with there being just about Thunderbirds everything. All of which has made Thunderbirds one of the most memorable and recognisable of the retro TV series making it a perfect costume theme for your next fancy dress party.

For those of you wanting to adopt an International Rescue theme for your next fancy dress party, Karnival Costumes stocks a huge selection of Thundrbirds costumes and accessories based around Thunderbirds including an extensive collection of accessories but excluding the pink Rolls Royce.