Thunderbirds Are Go (again)! ITV commissions 26 episodes from Lord of the Rings special effects team

 

Thunderbirds Are Go once again, 50 years after the cult show featuring the exploits of International Rescue first went on air.

ITV will broadcast a new series of the classic show, combining CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation and live-action model sets, which is set to air in 2015.

Thunderbirds Are Go! will “affectionately pay tribute” to the original, created by Gerry Anderson, who died in December at the age of 83.

Created by Anderson and his second wife, Sylvia, Thunderbirds was first broadcast in 1965. The update will feature a “whole new level of action-adventure animation for today's audience”, co-producer ITV Studios said, with the five Tracy brothers piloting their “incredible vehicles into impossible rescues across the globe”.

New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures is co-producing the series in collaboration with the Weta Workshop, which worked on The Hobbit, King Kong, Avatar and Lord Of The Rings.

ITV and children's channel CiTV will broadcast the new series, in the form of 26 half-hour episodes.

With the catchphrase “Thunderbirds are go!” and featuring the secret emergency service run by the Tracy family, aided by London agent Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker, the original series enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s.

Anderson dismissed a 2004 Thunderbirds feature film as “the biggest load of crap I have ever seen in my life”. But two years before his death, he endorsed the new television series, promising that it would feature “all mod cons”.

Denise O Donoghue, ITV Studios UK managing director, said of the new TV series: “Thunderbirds is a highly respected brand that continues to hold recognition around the world.

“This cult series is often credited as changing the history of animation and action-adventure, and we look forward to taking the show to another level while retaining the much-loved heritage that has endured over the past 50 years.”

Richard Taylor, co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, said: “It is thrilling to think we have the opportunity to work with ITV on this new series inspired by this most wonderful of British shows.

“I personally, together with the teams here at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, look forward to designing and creating an inspirational world that will engage the imagination of a whole new generation as it did for us nearly half a century ago.”

Anderson, famous for the use of “supermarionation”, or the use of modified puppets, was also best-known for creating TV Shows Captain Scarlet and Stingray.

In 1966, Thunderbirds was made into a major feature film, Thunderbirds Are Go, which was followed by a sequel two years later, Thunderbird 6.

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