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THUNDERBIRDS - EPISODE GUIDE - SYLVIA ANDERSON

Below is a guide to all of the 32 Thunderbirds episodes.

There is also a short comment on the episode
from myself that I hope enjoy reading.
    
1. Trapped In The Sky
International Rescue are called in to save an airliner with a bomb on board. The Hood
is trying to infiltrate the top secret International Rescue operation but does not succeed,
thanks to their daring plan.
Director: Alan Pattillo; Screenwriters: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Comment
As the first script in the series there is a great deal of establishing of the characters and
conveying to the audience their inter-relationships. The International Rescue adventure
is provided by an airliner in distress and the introduction of Lady Penelope and Parker
in the first episode is brief but effective.

2. Pit Of Peril
The Sidewinder, an army transport vehicle, runs into trouble while being tested.
International Rescue assist with an ingenious plan thought up by Brains. Another
successful operation is carried out!
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
The Sidewinder is another futuristic vehicle designed by the visual-effects department
which could well be in use in the 2000s. The theme of dangerous waste which is the
basis of the storyline is very much a contemporary problem.

3. City Of Fire
A woman driver crashes her car in a busy shopping mart. A blazing inferno engulfs the
building where a family are trapped. Scott and Virgil execute a daring rescue, before the
whole complex explodes.
Director: Alan Pattillo; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
I am struck by the fact that it is a woman driver who is the hapless catalyst (as you see,
the writer is a man!). I remember playing the American female voices but it just didn’t
occur to me to query the ‘female driver’ myth. This is a popular disaster story, along
the lines of Towering Inferno.

4. Sun Probe
A space ship is lost and on a collision course with the sun. Brains devises a rescue
plan with some newly invented equipment. Thunderbird 3 saves the probe but now
without some hair-raising moments.
Director: Alan Pattillo; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
Another boys’ own adventure, minus Lady P, but this time with a more space-age theme.
Too much space and too many machines for my personal taste but, again cracking
special effects.

5. The Uninvited
The Zombites – a lost race – capture Scott when he is forced to land in the desert. Along
with a couple of imprisoned archeologists, he makes a daring escape, the evil Zombites
are routed and finally their headquarters are destroyed.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
Another Alan Fennell comic-strip adventure, this time with a Sahara Desert theme.
Good fun but a little too adventurous for our puppet cast; as always good effects.

6. The Mighty Atom
A robot rat, called the Mighty Atom, is programmed to take photographs. It’s another
scheme by the Hood to infiltrate the Thunderbirds top secret headquarters. All it does,
however, is photograph a screaming Lady Penelope running away from the life-like ‘rat’!
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
This Dennis Spooner adventure contains a weirdly horrific reference to an atomic
accident that has echoes of the nuclear nightmare of Chernobyl in 1986. However, the
introduction of the Mighty Atom is straining credibility somewhat, even in today’s world.

7. The Vault Of Death
A time-lock vault, set to remain closed for two years, has trapped a Bank of England
employee. As the air decreases, International Rescue start to burn their way in, in an
effort to save him. With little time to spare, Penelope and Parker use a simple hairpin
to open the vault!
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
A mixture here of the old and new technology; an airless vault, programmed to remain
locked for two years. Rather an elaborate and preposterous ruse in order to activate
another International Rescue adventure. Parker, too, smacks of Minder with his hairpin
routine.

8. Operation Crash Dive
Mysteriously, two giant airliners have crashed in the sea. International Rescue are
called in to save the pilot of the second crash, but are still puzzled by the circumstances.
They follow a third flight and locate the cause of the trouble – a saboteur is hidden in the
wing. Gordon comes to the rescue and the airliner is saved.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Martin Crump
Comment
An exciting air drama with excellent visual effects.

9. Move And You’re Dead
Alan Tracy and Grandma are stranded on a bridge, connected to an ultrasonic device
which will trigger a bomb if they move. Brains is able to disable the bomb and the two
are rescued. Scott finds the culprit and retrieves Alan’s stolen racing car.
Director: Alan Pattillo; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
An exciting and unusual action adventure story from Alan Pattillo. The inclusion of
Grandma and the flash-back device gives the story an unusual twist.

10. Martian Invasion
The photodetector in Thunderbird 1 is immobilized by the Hood. Once more, he is
plotting to photograph the secret International Rescue craft. Scott goes to the rescue
of some actors during the filming of a space movie. But once more the Hood’s
dastardly plan is detected and the photographic device is destroyed.
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
A rather elaborate caper with the Hood bungling his attempt to infiltrate International
Rescue. An unusual reference to Kyrano who was established in the first episode
as the half-brother of the Hood (and the weakness in the International Rescue team).
Another comic-strip action-adventure from Alan Fennell

11. Brink Of Disaster
Jeff Tracy, Brains and TinTin go on a monorail journey. But disaster looms when the
faulty track causes the monorail to crash. Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are summoned to
effect a rescue and the guilty parties are brought to justice.
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
An underlying moral theme to this story that could well apply to the uncaring and greedy
times of today. Lady Penelope and Parker justify their existence in this episode by
exposing the greedy Grafton – or at least Parker does through his past underworld
connections.

12. The Perils Of Penelope
Lady Penelope is kidnapped when she is investigating the mysterious disappearance
of a well known scientist. Lady Penelope is tied on the track of an oncoming train in
order to force the kidnapped scientist to reveal his secrets. But before the he is put
to the test, Virgil and Gordon save Penelope just in the nick of time.
Directors: Alan Pattillo and Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
Alan Pattillo goes to town with this episode and just about keeps the futuristic flavour
with sea water converted into fuel! This is Murder on the Orient Express mono-rail
style and there is plenty of action and dramatic situations, with lashings of Lady P
and Parker at their very best. Very much ’Er Ladyship’s cuppa tea!

13. Terror In New York
The Empire State Building is being moved to a new site, but a television reporter and
cameraman, watching the operation, are trapped as the building collapses. Brains works
out that they can be rescued from an underground water network. Thunderbird 4 is
launched as a huge tidal wave is about to engulf them. The men are saved – but only
just!
Director: David Lane and David Elliott; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
Derek Meddings reminded me when we met recently that this episode was based on
true event. It is an exciting drama with an ingenious plot and stunning visual effects.
Alan Fennell at his best.

14. End Of The Road
A friend of Jeff Tracy’s is in danger during a hazardous demolition operation.
International Rescue are quickly on the scene but must not reveal their identity.
The rescue after the Nutomic explosion is successful and the Tracy boys manage
not to blow their cover. TinTin has a starring role as the the beautiful diversion.
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
Is there such a thing as Nutomic explosive? No matter, in Thunderbirds anything and
everything is possible. There is a nice use of TinTin as a sex object! Also a good twist
in keeping the identity of the rescuers a secret.

15. A Day Of Disaster
The countdown continues relentlessly as a Martian probe rocket collapses with crew
on board. International Rescue must save the men on board before the rocket is
destructively launched. Their task is seemingly impossible as the minutes tick by.
But finally the crew are rescued and the nose-cone detached before the destruct
process begins.
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
A nice use of space-age technology here and a change of scenery for Brains when he
visits Lady P. It is good to get away from the island sometimes. In the Thunderbirds era,
space accidents were becoming commonplace. Ours, of course, has a happy ending.

16. The Edge of Impact
An aircraft crashes into a relay station and the control room is in danger of collapse.
Thunderbird 2, using a capsule, harnesses the men to safety. Once again, only in
the nick of time!
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Donald Robertson
Comment
TinTin is once again used as a sex object here, as a diversion to keep the secrets of
International Rescue intact. It is played in an underwater scene reminiscent of Stingray.
I wonder how the Red Arrows felt about this episode? Brains once more saves the day
with the help of the Tracy boys.

17. Desperate Intruder
Brains and TinTin dive into a lake, where they are searching for hidden treasure. The
Hood captures Brains in order to find the location of the treasure. Even though he is
buried up to his neck in desert, Brains refuses to reveal the secret. But once again
International Rescue save Brains and foil the Hood and his dastardly plan!
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Donald Robertson
Comment
Brains is the victim this time and Donald Robertson once more features TinTin in a rare
sojourn from the island. I think Donald had a soft spot for TinTin and Oriental types!
I remember the scene where Brains is buried up to his neck in sand. A great puppet
make-up job was involved in producing the parched lips and agonized expression.

18. 30 Minutes Before Noon
A British agent is trapped with a bomb strapped to his arm, under the guard of a robot.
He is in a plutonium storage room. The world will witness a gigantic explosion unless
International Rescue can succeed in penetrating the security zone and dismantling the
bomb. They succeed but against great odds.
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
A complicated plot here from the vivid imagination of Alan Fennell. As one newspaper
reviewer said, quoting the old Harpo Marx gag: ‘A kid of six could understand this. Help!
Find me a kid of six!’ This was more a vehicle for live action than for the limited emotions
of our puppet cast.

19. The Imposters
Two men posing as International Rescue agents save a man trapped in a well and steal
secret papers from an adjacent underground vault. International Rescue is blamed and
they are unable to rescue an astronaut in space, until, finally, Lady Penelope clears their
name.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
I had a good time playing a Beverly Hills hill-billy in this one. A nice idea from Dennis
Saunders to have International Rescue imposters, putting the Tracy boys under
investigation. The space age of the sixties is put to good use for this story.

20. The Man From MI5
During the investigation of the disappearance of a British agent, Lady Penelope is
kidnapped and trapped with a remote controlled bomb. She alerts International Rescue
via her radio powder compact. The boys come to her rescue and the villains brought to
justice.
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
Alan Fennell must have had television back-up in mind for the Lady Penelope
publication, when he penned this episode with Lady Penelope in her luxurious setting
of the stately home and the Riviera once more in grave danger. In true Bond style,
however, she calls for the aid of Thunderbirds, using her powder-compact radio. The
powder-compact reference does rather date this episode.

21. Cry Wolf
After there is a false alarm from two boys, their genuine call for help is at first ignored.
Then there is evidence that the call is serious – one of the boys’ father is under attack
from the Hood. International Rescue save the day, with a promise from the boys that
they never will ‘cry wolf’ again!
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Dennis Spooner
Comment
Once more the Hood is up to his dastardly hypnosis tricks. This time his victims are the
two Australian boys, Tony and Bob, played with great fun by Christine Finn and myself.
The Hood is foiled again with a clever idea from Dennis Spooner.

22. Danger At Ocean Deep
Pioneer 2 is launched after the disappearance of Pioneer 1. The cargo of liquid
alsterene destines the ship for a similar fate. There is a mysterious communication
blackout but International Rescue finally locate the ship. The radiation proves a real
hazard but the crew are finally saved before the big explosion.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Donald Robertson
Comment
‘I name this ship Ocean Pioneer 2’; I had always wanted to launch a ship and I did just
that as the voice of Lady P in this episode. I love the invention of ‘liquid alsterene’ and
‘OD 60’ as the two dangerous substances. They sound close enough to be convincing.
The horrors and danger of radiation are evident even in this sixties story.

23. The Duchess Assignment
The Duchess of Royston, an old friend of Lady Penelope, agrees to loan a valuable
painting to an American tycoon. However, she is kidnapped, en route. She contacts
Lady Penelope by means of her secret homing device given to her by Penelope. The
crooks are caught and the Duchess rescued.
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Martin Crump
Comment
It would not be a Thunderbirds episode without a rescue and a series of explosions.
This is no exception even though the plot is far from futuristic. Ray Barrett did his
marvellously camp Duchess of Royston voice, making the recording of this episode
quite hilarious. A refreshing approach from new writer Martin Crump.

24. Attack Of The Alligators
Four men are trapped in a house by giant alligators. They have accidentally poured an
enlarging drug into the river. International Rescue manage to destroy the monsters and
prevent any further damage from a lost phial in the water. Gordon saves the day!
Director: David Lane; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
My favourite episode that blatantly steals the plot from many a horror movie (or is it the
other way round, did they steal our plot?). The subject of my amusing interview with
special effects director Derek Meddings, this is an episode I can see again and again!

25. The Cham Cham
A pop group is being used to broadcast ultrasonic notes which will sabotage American
rockets. The device is called the Cham Cham. Lady Penelope poses as a singer and
foils their plan – she sings the transporter rockets to safety aided by Thunderbird 2.
Director: Alan Pattillo; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
This must share the award with ‘Attack Of The Alligators’ as one of the best episodes
of the series. Even though the plot is far fetched, it has charm and because of the lovely
Swiss mountain setting, has credibility. It also gave me a chance to sing in my Marlene
Dietrich voice as Lady P posing as a night-club singer Wanda Lamour.

26. Security Hazard
A small stowaway smuggles himself to the International Rescue headquarters, Tracy
Island. Jeff Tracy realises he is a security hazard and makes sure he cannot remember
his adventure. Was it a dream or did it really happen, the boy asks himself the next day.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
A lightweight but charming story and a refreshing change from the usual hair-raising
adventure. Although not one of our outstanding efforts, it gave the special effects a
much deserved rest.

27. Atlantic Inferno
Scott is left in charge of Tracy Island when Jeff takes a vacation. He successfully sees
through a rescue operation when an oil rig is set on fire. Scott is relieved when Jeff
returns.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Fennell
Comment
Nice to know that Jeff Tracy does get away from the island sometimes and with Lady P
too! Breaking the format is not a bad thing in a television series, but the team are not
allowed to manage too well without him. More dazzling effects and explosions in this
episode.

28. Path Of Destruction
The Crablogger is a massive machine that cuts down trees and crushes them to a pulp.
It goes out of control and demolishes a whole town. International Rescue manage to
shut down the reactor before it destroys a dam.
Director: David Elliott; Screenwriter: Donald Robertson
Comment
This stands out in my mind as a great special effects episode with the Crablogger – a
marvellous vehicle design – crashing its way through the forest. The notion of the
machine logging and pulverising trees in its path, releasing the pulp into barrels at
the back is ingenious. Once more, the hazards of atomic energy are highlighted,
as far back as the sixties.

29. Alias Mr Hackenbacker
Lady Penelope is hosting a fashion show on board a plane. The plane is hijacked and
she radios Thunderbirds for help. The plane makes a forced landing but all on board
are saved. Brains’ device has ensured their safety and the villains are brought to justice.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
Brains to the rescue again posing as Mr Hackenbacker and Lady P in her usual elegant
haunt – Paris. Alan Pattillo understands her Ladyship will and more exciting visual effects
help the story along.

30. Lord Parker’s ’Oliday
The first town to be lit by solar power is heading for a disaster, the giant reflector crashes
Lady Penelope and Parker are there on holiday and call in International Rescue to save
the town from burning up with the solar rays that have been unleashed.
Director: Brian Burgess; Screenwriter: Tony Barwick
Comment
Although solar heat was a futuristic concept in the days of writing for Thunderbirds,
Parker continued to play Bingo. An interesting theme provides the team with the usual
rescue against the colourful backdrop of the Italian Riviera.

31. Ricochet
A faulty rocket which has damaged a pirate television station in space has resulted in
near disaster. International Rescue have the task of saving the crew. The space craft
finally blows up in the desert.
Director: Brian Burgess; Screenwriter: Tony Barwick
Comment
On the face of it, a pirate space station broadcasting pop music is not the usual type of
threat for our International Rescue team. But it provides the opportunity for exploiting
the space age era that was novel in the days of Thunderbirds.

32. Give Or Take A Million
A gift to a children’s hospital contains a strange Christmas gift – two bank robbers!
They have accidentally tripped an alarm and are captured by a young boy who spends
Christmas on Tracy Island.
Director: Desmond Saunders; Screenwriter: Alan Pattillo
Comment
This is the inevitable Christmas story with a difference, combining an action-packed
episode with the charm of a visit to Tracy Island by the lucky child who has won a
special prize donated by International Rescue. As usual, Alan Pattillo provides the
human touch for the Thunderbirds team.

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