Help! One of my puppets is missing, says T-bird 1

Gerry Anderson appeals for help to find Dick Spanner, missing in action

Calling International Rescue – one of our puppets is missing. A nationwide appeal was launched yesterday by Gerry Anderson, the creator of Thunderbirds, to find one of his favourite creations. Lady Penelope, Parker and Captain Scarlet are safe and sound, but the producer is determined to find one of his proudest achievements – private detective Dick Spanner.

"I know the whereabouts of everything [else], but Dick Spanner defeats me, although I know he's out there somewhere. If The Independent on Sunday's readers could help track him down for me I would be very happy indeed," the veteran producer said last night.

Missing for 20 years, Dick Spanner was the solo star of a low-budget animation series, using cardboard sets, that has developed a cult following. Mr Anderson said finding the puppet would "make his year". Dick Spanner starred in 22 six-minute episodes shown on Channel 4's Network Seven TV programme in the mid-Eighties.

Described as the "world's strangest private investigator", the cheap-looking plastic and wood robot-like creation could not be further from the eerily realistic puppets of Thunderbirds fame. But Dick Spanner's dry humour and wordplay – voiced by Shane Rimmer, the actor who immortalised Scott Tracy – makes him close to Mr Anderson's heart. "He's a one-off," says the producer, "and the closest to my own sense of humour. It used to crease me up every time a new script came in."

Renewed interest in the show has prompted the release of the series on DVD this week, so that whoever has the original puppet could be sitting on a gold mine, according to Sarah Hodgson, an expert in entertainment memorabilia for Christie's. "Gerry Anderson creations are very collectable, so when they do come on to the market they can fetch large sums of money," she said.

In 2001, the original Parker fetched £38,000 at auction and Mr Anderson said original puppets would go for upwards of £60,000 today. Even original drawings from the series command large sums, some making £4,500 each at Bonhams in London last year.

Despite finding fame and fortune through his creations, the 78-year-old producer found working with puppets "humiliating" at first. "I never wanted to make puppet films," he said. "When I saw my first puppet it was this horrible looking thing made of papier mâché and operated on thick black cord – all my dreams of being a famous director were shattered. I really wanted to make live-action films."

Mr Anderson condemned a 2004 film of Thunderbirds as "absolute rubbish", turning down $750,000 to endorse the flop. Attempts to make a comeback with a multimillion-pound series of Captain Scarlet for Granada TV in 2005 were destroyed by what he called "shameful" scheduling.

He hopes that his dream of remaking the Thunderbirds series with live human characters could become a reality. Discussions have been held with ITV – headed by Sir Michael Grade, whose uncle, Sir Lew, was one of Anderson's backers in the Sixties.

He admits that this ambition borders on the obsessive: "I think about it before I go to sleep and first thing in the morning when I wake up. I'm absolutely desperate and would give my right arm to do this. "

Dawn Airey, ITV's director of global content, was tight-lipped but confirmed: "We do have the rights to Thunderbirds. It's an asset that we have and we're looking into it."

Dick Spanner

Estimated value £10,000.

'He was a Humphrey Bogart character, and it was all a play on words'

Lady Penelope

Estimated value £65,000.

'We wanted a lady with the qualities that Princess Diana came to symbolise'

Captain Scarlet

Estimated value £40,000.

'I wanted him to look clean-cut, a wholesome man who was glamorous'

Parker

Estimated value £70,000.

'We wanted a face that would give us a chance to write comedy'

Joe 90

Estimated value £30,000.

'With Joe 90 I recruited a lad to do the voice, not a woman as we had before'

Scott Tracy

Estimated value £60,000.

'He was the heart-throb of all the boys, and he was a puppet!'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Women protest at the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh
tvReview: It's a tough watch, but the details of the brutal gang rape and murder of medical student need to be shared if we want to strive for global gender equality
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot