Thunderbirds are go (again)! International Rescue return to the small screen to mark 50th anniversary

The new series has spurned the puppets and will instead use a mix of cutting-edge CGI animation and live action miniature sets
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The Independent Culture

It was a television series that sparked the imaginations of millions. Now Thunderbirds, the 1960s sci-fi show, is set to appeal to a new generation. A 21st-century version is making a return to the small screen, in time for the show's 50th anniversary.

Featuring the Tracys, the family behind International Rescue, the secret organisation devoted to saving lives around the world – be they in jeopardy on land, in the air or underwater – the programme was so successful that it was broadcast in more than 30 countries. Lines from the series, such as the radio call sign FAB, have found their way into dictionaries.

Created by the studios behind the successful Lord of the Rings and Avatar films, the new series has spurned the "Supermarionation" puppet techniques that co-creators Gerry and Sylvia Anderson pioneered and will instead use a mix of cutting-edge CGI animation and live action miniature sets.

But ITV, the show's developers, have promised that the same characters will be back, with actress Rosamund Pike playing the unflappable aristocrat Lady Penelope, and David Graham, who originally voiced Parker, butler and chauffeur to Lady Penelope, returning to the role.

Giles Ridge, executive producer, said: "To be honest, it's a bit like handling the family silver, and we, like many people, are fans of the original series, so that adds its own kind of pressure.

"But we are also extremely proud to have this programme brand and the whole Supermarionation family of series such as Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and Supercar in the ITV portfolio.

"I'm delighted to say that when we've shown it to people, it has raised a few eyebrows. It's a long process," he said. ITV estimate that it will air on UK TV screens in spring 2015.

Fans of the old techniques can look out for a new project by Jamie Anderson, Gerry and Sylvia's son, who is currently fundraising to produce a pilot modelled on the 1960s methods.