All images on this page come from the newly colourised episode of Fireball XL5, "A Day In The Life Of A Space General"
Be warned! Gerry Anderson is after your money. If you’ve got £8 million to spare, he'd like to hear from you…
Anderson, the genius behind supermarionation shows like Thunderbirds and Stingray, plus the live action Space: 1999 and UFO, not to mention the CG Captain Scarlet, cheekily drops this bombshell as he chats to SFX about the release of a special edition boxset of his 1962 show Fireball XL5. “I working on a new show called A Christmas Miracle,” he reveals. “It's a science fiction Christmas story, with character designs by artist Rodney Mathews . It’s going to be CGI. I'm very excited about it, but unfortunately I didn't think about this before the recession. So everybody I talk to, I’m asking... well, I'm thinking about you now. Maybe you've got $8 million tucked away somewhere you could invest?”
Sadly, no. Not likely on an SFX wage. But I assure him that I'll ask around. "Just don’t take too big a cut yourself for making the introduction,” he deadpans.
"They've had one of the episodes colourised,” he enthuses. “Now, I’ve seen some of the earlier attempts at colourising, and I thought, ‘Blimey… not very good!’ This one that they’ve done – which has taken a long time and cost a fortune – looks brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I have never been one of these people who say, ‘If something's been shot in black and white then it shouldn’t be in colour; it's made in black and white for a reason.’ Well the only reason Fireball XL5 was made in black and white was because we didn't have colour. And also, I feel that people who feel that way, no problem: it's available in black and white. It's there for them.”
Is it tempting, though, in this age of CG FX to go even further, and paint out all the wires from his puppet shows? “I don't think it's practical, cost wise. And I'm not quite sure how the puppets would look. I think it might be quite comical. If you've got wires, you know why they're walking with a peculiar gait. If you take the wires out, then I think people would think – instead of ‘Great, there's no wires!’ – they'd be thinking, ‘That's a bloody funny walk he's got!” So I think it might be counterproductive as well as being horrendously expensive.”
“Some of the early shows, when I'm forced to watch them… when I say forced to watch, I mean that I'm someone who's always thinking of tomorrow, so I tend to turn my back on what I've made. But then, sometimes, there's a reason, rather like with Fireball now, that I have to look at one and remind myself. And I look at them and think, ‘Christ, that was really quite amazing for the time that it was made.’”
Back in the present, Anderson is still hoping there’s life in his excellent CG version of Captain Scarlet. “We are in the talking stages of talking to a new American distributor, and hopefully we'll be signing in a week or two. And then it might start all over again. And if it takes off in America, it could become a big hit.”
Then, of course, there’s the big screen version of his ’70s live action show, UFO. “I was told about that by ITV America, by a very thoughtful person who phoned me and said, ‘Gerry we've acquired the rights to remake UFO, and I didn't want you to get a shock and suddenly read the press announcement. So I'm ringing you to forewarn you.’ Which was a very kind thing to do. It's going to be a very big picture. It's got a lot of very talented people involved. And they've talked about the possibility of me being an advisor on the picture. That really is as far as we've got. And I'd like to think that I could help them, because a lot of remakes don't live up to the original. So I would like to be involved. Not to interfere I know too much about the creative process to interfere, that puts people off. But just internal chats to express my views, and people can take it, or leave it, or modify it. Hopefully, it might dribble through...”
So hopefully, it’ll be a better experience for than the Thunderbirds movie, on which he wasn’t consulted at all. “The Thunderbirds movie, and you can print this, I thought was an utter load of crap. Universal Pictures had learned during the production that people were constantly asking, ‘Well, why isn't Gerry involved?’ And just before the premiere – a couple of weeks before the premiere – they offered me three quarters of a million dollars to attend the premiere and help them promote the picture. And I turned it down. I could have done with money, but I couldn't bring myself to become a prostitute.”
* The Fireball XL5 Special Edition Box Set is available from 29 June for £59.99. A six-disc set featuring all 39 episodes of the series, it’s absolutely packed with extras, including the colourised episode, “A Day In The Life Of A Space General", a brand new making of documentary and a 60-page booklet.
* There's also a special event being held on Saturday 27 June to celebrate the release of the DVD box set. More details at the bottom of our Seven Days Later page.