AH, the year always seems to take someone with it. This year it’s Gerry Anderson.
I can’t be the only person who immediately lurched about pretending to be a member of the Thunderbird team with that arm-and-leg combo when I heard the news of his passing. Michael Jackson went on to nick that move for his landmark Thriller video.
The theme tune to Fireball XL5 is firmly lodged in my memory banks. Stingray was the most exciting thing we were allowed to watch back then. Captain Troy Tempest was considered hot stuff for five-year-olds. He bore an uncanny resemblance to James Garner.
Tempest had a groovy sort of girlfriend called Marina, who could breathe underwater but couldn’t speak. She could always be relied upon to turn up like a soggy St Bernard to rescue Troy when he got into bother. She got her own soapy song at the end.
She did a lot of yearning, as I recall, because Troy didn’t fancy her back. Well, he did, but these days we’d say he had commitment issues. Actually most of the Anderson leading men seemed to have problems with relationships that came with strings attached. Sorry.
Captain Tempest’s boss was a guy called Shore and was a bit of a terror, but he was the first wheelchair-bound character I can remember seeing on telly. And believe me, he was most definitely disabled and in charge, which was ground-breaking at that time. Not even Star Trek had a character with a disability, unless you count Scotty’s accent.
When the opening credits rolled over Barry Gray’s thumping music, Commander Shore would announce: “Anything can happen in the next half hour . . .”
Storming stuff, but I thought he meant in the living room. For the next 30 minutes I sat stock still on the mustard mock leather sofa (it was the 1960s, remember) expecting the shaggy cream and brown fireside rug (like I said, the 60s) to bulge up as the fiendish mole people burrowed up though the Axminster.
In which case, they would have been met by my outraged mother, a lithe young woman then with blazing red hair, and a taste for brightly- coloured slacks.
Now, I was well aware that she could take out a lippy kid at 50 paces with a wet washing-up sponge, but I figured the invaders didn’t know that, so I knew in a Mole Man v Mother Smackdown, my mum would cream those guys – so bring it on, supervillain.