The idea for Thunderbirds was first conceived before the completion of Stingray in 1963.
Stingray was the first TV series to be made in colour in the UK but Thunderbirds was our first hour-long programme.
It took a little persuasion to get the green light from Lew Grade (the ATV chief and our mentor) because the new concept would mean a bigger budget, more elaborate sets and a larger cast of puppet characters.
As the co-creator, I was very keen on making Thunderbirds an hour-long programme (all our previous series had been half an hour) as it would give me the opportunity to develop the characters more fully.
I had already conceived the germ of an idea (which I thought would appeal to the US market) of an aristocratic titled lady and her cockney sidekick. This, of course, eventually became Lady Penelope and Parker.
The Tracy brothers were inspired by Bonaza, a popular US series at the time that featured several lead characters who were brothers. This became Jeff Tracy and his sons and the International Rescue team was born. The London based agents, in the form of Lady Penelope and Parker, then completed the main cast.
Tracy Island, the stately home, the Thunderbirds craft and FAB 1 incorporated all the talents of our team and completed the picture.
Thunderbirds was an instant success and captured the imagination of viewers of all ages. The media loved it too, there was humour, glamour and action a winning combination. It was as if all our previous work had been one big rehearsal for this
In total, we made 32 episodes and 2 cinema features, as well as creating a huge marketing empire. The rest, as they say, is history.
See My FAB Years, for the detailed story.