Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Farewell, Gerry Anderson

For my generation, there were two undisputed giants of children’s television. Oliver Postgate, the creator of Pogle’s Wood, Bagpuss and the Clangers, died on 2008. Anybody even vaguely interested in his life should seek out his excellent autobiography, Seeing Things, …

Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 20:33

   
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For my generation, there were two undisputed giants of children’s television. Oliver Postgate, the creator of Pogle’s Wood, Bagpuss and the Clangers, died on 2008. Anybody even vaguely interested in his life should seek out his excellent autobiography, Seeing Things, which reveals him to be an enormously generous-hearted left-winger of the old, Fabian school.

This Christmas we lost the admirable Gerry Anderson. Born in 1929, the creator of Supermarionation is known for a series of flawless series from the 1960s and 1970s. Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds: the names alone stir up Proustian moistening of the ducts. As Trey Parker and Matt Stone admitted when they made Team America: World Police, that school of dynamic puppetry involves staggering degrees of work. It is some tribute to Gerry, that the South Park boys said they’d die before they embarked on such a project again.

Anderson always wanted to make live-action science-fiction epics and regarded the puppet work as a sort of stopgap. There is no need for us to view those series as second-best. They still look wonderful today. Captain Scarlet is as winning as any of that vampire rubbish the kids watch on TV today. Stupid kids. They don’t know they were born with their iThises and their iThats.

Where was I? It is also worth noting that Anderson did produce some very enjoyable live-action material. The series Space 1999 and UFO were both excellent. Wanda Ventham costar of that last series, is Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum, you know. Just thought I’d mention it.

He also produced and wrote an excellent science-fiction film that did little on release and has never quite scared up an afterlife. I point you vigorously towards 1969′s Journey to the Far Side of the Sun. Following an astronaut as, yes, he travels to a planet on the other side of the sun, the picture is creepy, exciting and, ultimately very sad. Among the cast, we find two of the drinkiest actors in British history: Patrick Wymark and Ian Hendry. It must have been a very festive set. The film is available on DVD and we demand that you to seek it out.

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