I spent a wonderful day on the set of the
new THUNDERBIRDS film that was being
filmed at Pinewood.
I was further delighted to be invited to a
private screening of the movie.
I was keen to ensure that John Read and Mary Turner would be there with me to view
the film, as their contribution to the success of the series was enormous and had been
generally overlooked over the years.
Unfortunately Mary Turner was away in Ireland but Working Title had kindly arranged a
special viewing for her on her return. However, John Read was able to attend.
As the lights lowered I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive, as was John, as to
exactly how the producers would achieve the transition from puppetry to live actors and
from the small to the big screen.
It’s not that I doubted the pedigree of Working Title, who have become our foremost
leading producers in the UK, or the director Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek fame, but they
were, after all, taking a much loved subject that needed tender, loving care for an
audience that regard THUNDERBIRDS as their very own. There were even the
“doom mongers” who forecast that the film would never work. But how wrong they
proved to be!
After the opening titles, John turned to me and whispered “It’s breathtaking” and as I
settled down to watch the movie I couldn’t agree with him more. Working Title have
treated the subject with great respect and have introduced the new characters quite
effortlessly. The special effects are stunning, the music and photography superlative
and the imaginative casting make for a directorial triumph.
Sophia Myles combines just the right balance of sophistication and fun in her portrayal
of Lady Penelope. Although I have to say that the 60’s Lady P might well draw the line
at Parker bringing her drinks in the bath. However, we are in a different century!!!
The young leading actors are stars in the making and the action is non-stop.
Indeed Vanessa Anne Hudgens who played Tin-Tin has gone on to great fame with the
High School Musical movie franchise.
In fact, when the end credits came up (I’m somewhere there!) I felt that I’d been on a
wonderful THUNDERBIRDS adventure.
You, the fans, will I’m sure, appreciate the sensitive adaptation and I’m personally
thrilled that the production team have paid us the great compliment of bringing to life our
original concept for the big screen. If we had made it ourselves (and we have had over
30 years to do it!) we could not have improved on this new version. It is a great tribute
to the original creative team who inspired the movie all those years ago.
It was a personal thrill for me to see my characters come to life on the big screen.
When I dreamed up the character of Lady Penelope (beautifully sculpted and acted by
Mary Turner and her puppet) little did I know that Lady P would one day be starring in a
Hollywood movie made in the UK. So congratulations to Working Title, director
Jonathan Frakes and the cast and crew.
I look forward to your comments when you have seen the film and I hope you share
Thunderbirds ‘The Movie’-
The premiere for the movie was a really
FAB event. It was a true family day.
There were interviews and photo shoots
with myself and Sophia at the Dorchester.
After the film showing at the Empire Leicester Square, there was a party at Lincoln’s Inn
Hall. The Hall doubled for Creighton-Ward Manor and inside (almost) everything was
pink! From the food to the manicures and feather-boas on offer. Outside you could
‘pose’ alongside FAB 1, have a ‘flight’ in the space simulator, or indulge in some
Thunderbird-themed games. Fun for young and old alike!
Birmingham Charity Premiere
In aid of the Baby Lifeline Charity
Wonderful cause and there was a very friendly, family atmosphere. I also got a chance
to talk to the children who attended the premiere to get their unbiased and non-political
view of the film. They obviously enjoyed the whole event and were very keen to tell me
of their favourite parts of the movie. The children ranged from 7-13 and they definitely
voted it a hit. They especially liked The Hood as the baddie, and the Parker fight scenes.
I doubt if they will be concerned with what the critics have to say!
Good to meet with the Fanderson members who attended, although their verdict was that
“the jury is out” on their opinion of the film. Perhaps they feel they are being disloyal to
the cause if their comments are favourable. But folks, you are allowed to like both the
puppet and live action version!
The original puppet series was criticised by the heads of the TV in the ’60’s for being too
Americanised. The two films, THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO! and THUNDERBIRD SIX were
sniffily dismissed by the critics as being too like the TV series and the ‘fans’ stayed away
When we made UFO, SPACE 1999 and DOPPELGANGER, with ‘real life’ actors we were
once again dismissed as casting actors who were “wooden!” So you see folks, you can’t
Bear in mind that the children who are the heartbeat of Thunderbirds are the real
audiences and I don’t quite see them pouring over the reviews before going to see the
film! It’s all too easy for the critics to latch on to the hackneyed phrases like “no strings
attached” and “FAB or FLOP.” Perhaps, they have not cottoned on to the fact that the
film has not been made for them.
Having now seen the film three times, I’m even more convinced that it will be a great hit.
I don’t have to analyse why I think it will be a hit, all I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As did John Read, who you will know was the key member of our original team. Neither
of us had an axe to grind and were NOT in the pay of Universal or Working Title. We
were perfectly free to come to our own conclusions without any political agenda.
I’d like also to correct a misconception that this is a “Hollywood film.” True that Universal
financed it but don’t let us forget that every other aspect of the production was home
grown British talent (with the exception of the very talented trio of Alan, Tin Tin and
Brains jnr). What seems to be forgotten is that the movie has given work to British
technicians for several months and shot, in the main, in a British studio. So how can this
be described as a “Hollywood movie”? We should be supporting people like Working
Title who have consistently over the years produced quality films that actually make
money. Perhaps people have forgotten that during the 60’s and 70’s the only reason
that there was a British film industry was because of the input of American finance.
Are we going to object to that?
Don’t forget, I look forward to your spontaneous reviews of the movie because, let’s face
it, your opinion does count.