Gerry Anderson‘s original Thunderbirds was produced through live-action puppetry techniques that he branded Supermarionation. In my mind, the show is indivisible from this aesthetic, the Tracy brothers’ personalities interwoven with their bobbing walks and closed-lip delivery.
While there’s bound to be a lot of nostalgia for the tactile ingenuity of Anderson’s show, young audiences raised in the era of Pixar might find it all rather quaint, and so ITV and Pukeko Pictures are treading carefully with their remake. Thunderbirds Are Go is being made with a combination of live-action miniature sets and CG characters.
It sounds like a compromise but having the expert Weta workshop on the show, building the miniatures and doing character designs, should help ensure that things look good, if perhaps not as distinctive as the original show.
All imagery has been kept completely under wraps so far but attendees of next week’s Licensing Expo in Vegas will be amongst the first to see what Weta have been drawing up. We’ve been able to get a hold of this invite, asking potential Licensors to stop by and chat with ITV’s reps. Not only does it contain the show’s logo, there’s also a glimpse of Thunderbird 2.
To my eye, it looks like Thunderbird 2 is a CG model here, though this might just be a mock-up for the invitation and not a representation of the show. Aside from that, the design does look – from this sliver at least – all but identical to the original.
More imagery may sneak out next week and if it does, we’ll be sure to pass it along. Things may remain under lock and key for a while yet, though, as Thunderbirds Are Go is expected to start airing a little over a year from now.
Here is ITV’s original press release on the voice cast from back in 2013, just to remind you how long it takes to put together a project of this type.
Fifty years after its television debut the iconic series is back in production featuring a talented cast led by Rosamund Pike (The World’s End, Gone Girl) as Lady Penelope and David Graham (Thunderbirds 1965) reprising his role as chauffeur and International Rescue agent Parker.
Debuting on ITV in 2015 this re-invention of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s much-loved series will be produced using an innovative mix of CGI animation and live-action miniature sets.
Unstoppable inventor Brains will be voiced by Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker, Facejacker) whilst Tracy brothers Gordon and John are both played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Game of Thrones). Rasmus Hardiker (Saxondale, Lead Balloon) has been cast as both the youngest and oldest Tracy brothers Alan and Scott. The fifth Tracy brother, Virgil, will be played by David Menkin.
Tracy Island matriarch Grandma Tracy is voiced by Sandra Dickinson (Amazing World of Gumball, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and master villain The Hood played by Andres Williams (M.I. High, Foyle’s War).
Plus Thunderbirds Are Go! will feature new characters including Kayo, the Tracy brothers’ friend and fellow island resident, who will be played by Angel Coulby (Merlin, Dancing on the Edge) and Colonel Casey voiced by Adjoa Andoh (Invictus, Doctor Who)