Posts tagged obituary

Shabby? Not me, says PM

Worzel Gummidge, the British Prime Minister, has responded to criticism in the press regarding his “shabby” and “disrespectful” appearance, and that he “couldn’t even do his hair” when making a statement in Downing Street about the death on Friday of Philip Mountbatten-Windsor, aged 99.

Lookalikes - Boris Johnson and Worzel Gummidge

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the scruffiest of them all?

Speaking from Chequers, a visibly shocked an astounded Worzel Gummidge apologised to those who had expressed their anger on social media and added: “Anyone would think I always looked as if I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, like former London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson!”

Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Anderson has gone!

image of Gerry Anderson with Parker & Lady Penelope

Gerry Anderson, 1929-2012

For many people like me in their late 50s, the puppet shows of Gerry Anderson helped define their childhood.

The first I remember – albeit vaguely – seeing was Four Feather Falls about 1960 starring Tex Tucker (who was voiced by Nicolas Parsons). There then followed Supercar, which was the first to feature ‘Supermarionation’, Gerry’s technique for synchronising the puppets’ mouth movements with the voice actors’ dialogue. In 1962 there followed the futuristic space adventure Fireball XL5, which is the first series I remember with any great clarity. Two years later came Stingray, the first children’s TV series in the UK to be filmed in colour, although my childhood home remained resolutely monochrome until I left the nest at 18 years of age in 1973.

After Stingray came perhaps Gerry’s biggest success – Thunderbirds – which came to the small screen in 1965 when I was 10 years old. The episodes in this series were 50 minutes long, twice the length of Stingray et al. Thunderbirds featured the unforgettable character of Parker the butler, who dropped his aitches where he should have said them and said them where they shouldn’t have been. Gerry revealed in an interview many years later that Parker had been based on a snooty Cockney waiter he encountered in a restaurant in Ascot.

Thunderbirds was succeeded by Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons in 1967 and Joe 90 in 1968, the last of the Supermarionation series.

I suppose what resonated with my generation was that at the time we were being promised a miraculous future in the 21st century – with jet packs and holidays on the Moon for everyone by the year 2000. Gerry Anderson’s series from Supercar right through to Joe 90 brought that future right into your living room in the 1960s. Back in real life in the 21st century, I’m still waiting for both my jet pack and my annual 14 days on the Moon. 🙁

One critic on BBC Radio 4 yesterday was bleating that the puppets’ strings could be seen in Anderson’s shows. Indeed they could… occasionally. It was a point of pride with the production team that extreme measures were taken to try and conceal the strings, which showed a lot less in an Anderson show than any other puppet series of the time.

Another great feat achieved by Anderson’s team was their special effects: they gained a great reputation for making very spectacular looking explosions that were very small at the same time.

Yesterday, Boxing Day, came the sad news that Gerry had passed away aged 83. 🙁

RIP Gerry and thank you for some lovely childhood memories.

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