(Frequently Asked Questions)
What does FAB from The Thunderbirds mean?
How did Sylvia Anderson first become involved with puppets?
Almost by accident. The only work we could get was the filming of some children’s books.
Our first experience with puppets was TWIZZLE and TORCHY. Having experimented
with this type of filming we developed our own special techniques and created our own
stories. Thus, SUPERMARIONATION was born!
Is it true that LADY PENELOPE was modelled on Sylvia Anderson and was she
aware of it?
LADY PENELOPE was modelled on myself by Mary Turner, but I was unaware of it at the
time. Mary, as chief puppeteer and sculptress, worked together with me to create the
character but each time Mary presented me with the sculpted face I suggested
alternatives. Finally Mary quietly decided to work from a human prototype and that
was me. It wasn’t until much later when LADY PENELOPE had already been filmed for
the first episode that I discovered LADY PENELOPE was based on myself.
Why did Sylvia Anderson sell her puppet collection?
In my work for a US cable company, I found myself travelling a great deal in the US and
each time the puppets had to be left securely locked away. So when I was asked if I
would be willing to auction the puppets I reluctantly agreed.
I had also loaned the puppets to the MUSEUM OF MOVING IMAGE for a long period
of time (free of charge) but, again, I wasn’t able to enjoy them.
Does Sylvia Anderson retain any mementos?
Among other things, I have a silver disc for the sale of 250,000 records for LADY
PENELOPE’S singing duet with PARKER.
Who were the rest of the puppets modelled on?
A combination of known faces of the era. PARKER, for example, the most highly
caricatured member of the cast was based on fifties comedian Ben Warris. His
voice came from a waiter at a country pub in the village of Cookham, Berkshire.
Were you surprised that LADY PENELOPE and PARKER became the most
popular THUNDERBIRDS characters of all?
It was a slow start but once the storylines featured LADY PENELOPE and PARKER in
funny situations the duo really took off and have remained popular over the years.
Why does THUNDERBIRDS defy its age and still remain popular?
It was ahead of its time even in the 1960’s and the visual effects were better than
anything seen on TV. Judging by the fan mail received it still has a place in the
hearts of those who grew up with it.