Preview image of new Thunderbird 1 releasedBookmark and Share

Sunday, 22 June 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
A preview image of the new Thunderbird 1 from the forthcoming series Thunderbirds Are Go! has been released by ITV Studios.

The major new children's series, which is a co-production between ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures in association with Weta Workshop, is set to make its international debut early next year in the UK on ITV and CITV.

Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood sign, the rocket maintains its distinctive silver bullet style from the original show, which first aired on ITV from 1965 to 1966.

The reboot, comprising 26 half-hour episodes, will be produced using a mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets to deliver a new level of action-adventure animation while also paying tribute to the classic 1960s phenomenon.

As previously reported, the reinvention of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's iconic series will star Rosamund Pike as the voice of Lady Penelope and original cast member David Graham, who reprises his role as Parker.

Other star voices will include Kayvan Novak as inventor Brains and Thomas Brodie-Sangster voicing John Tracy.

Executive producer Giles Ridge said:
Thunderbirds Are Go! pays tribute to the original series whilst delivering a dynamic action-adventure to thrill a new generation. The iconic characters, craft, music and story elements of the original have been lovingly reimagined for a 21st-century audience. The series will showcase the world-famous Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop's ground-breaking creative and technical excellence.






Champions actress Alexandra Bastedo dies at 67Bookmark and Share

Monday, 13 January 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
Alexandra Bastedo as Sharron MacreadyThe actress Alexandra Bastedo who played Sharron Macready in the cult '60s ITV series The Champions died yesterday of cancer at the age of 67.

Born in Hove, the keen animal-lover's original ambition was to be a vet, but showbusiness beckoned and she made her film debut in 1963 as one of the title characters in 13 Frightened Girls - aka The Candy Web.

More films followed, as did TV, which led to the multi-lingual Bastedo being cast as one of the three eponymous Champions - United Nations agents with perfected human abilities given to them by a secret civilisation following a plane crash in Tibet.

The sci-fi/action/adventure series - which also starred William Gaunt and Stuart Damon - was created by Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman and ran for 30 episodes between September 1968 and April 1969. In her biography on her website, Bastedo wrote how being in the show changed her life:
Apart from becoming a household name in England, Scotland and Wales I became an international star, particularly in Spain and South America where they called me "La Bastedo".
Over the course of her acting career, she appeared in many more films and TV series, including Batman Begins, EastEnders, and Absolutely Fabulous. Her real dream, though, was to rescue animals, and she founded the Alexandra Bastedo Champions Animal Sanctuary, which at first was based at Almodington, near Chichester, in West Sussex. She and her husband - the actor, writer, and director Patrick Garland - then moved to nearby West Chiltington, where the sanctuary was also relocated.

A passionate advocate of animal protection, Bastedo wrote a memoir entitled Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks plus a number of books on the welfare of cats and dogs. In addition, she was patron to a number of animal welfare organisations, including Compassion in World Farming, the Wildlife Aid Foundation, the National Animal Welfare Trust, Greyhounds in Need, and Naturewatch.

Yesterday, the actor and friend Peter Egan, who along with Gaunt is a patron of the ABC Animal Sanctuary, tweeted:

Garland died last April, aged 78.




Thunderbirds Are Go! Voice Cast RevealedBookmark and Share

Monday, 30 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Original Thunderbirds cast member David Graham is to provide the voice of Parker once again in the new version of the TV series, it was announced today - on the 48th anniversary of the original show's first broadcast.

He will be joined by Rosamund Pike as Lady Penelope, to whom Parker is chauffeur, Kayvan Novak as Brains, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Gordon and John Tracy, Rasmus Hardiker as Alan and Scott Tracy, and David Menkin as the fifth Tracy brother, Virgil, in Thunderbirds Are Go!, which has just started production.

Meanwhile, Tracy Island matriarch Grandma Tracy will be voiced by Sandra Dickinson (the former wife of Peter Davison) and Andres Williams is to play master villain The Hood, said ITV.

Debuting in 2015, this reinvention of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's much-loved series featuring the exploits of International Rescue will be produced using a mix of CGI animation and live-action miniature sets. Thunderbirds Are Go! will also feature new characters including Kayo, the Tracy brothers' friend and fellow island resident, who will be played by Angel Coulby, and Colonel Casey, voiced by Adjoa Andoh.

Graham said:
I am triple-chuffed to be on board the new series of Thunderbirds Are Go! and reprising my role of dear old Parker with such a distinguished cast. My driving skills are in good nick and I am delighted to be behind the wheel again with M’Lady. Cheerio!
Pike commented:
I'm very excited to bring Lady Penelope's wry wit and taste for adventure to a new generation. Exploring the scenes with David Graham has been an absolute delight. The scripts are very modern, very fresh, and very funny. We're all eagerly anticipating our next stint in the recording studio!
And co-executive producer Giles Ridge, of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, said:
Each member of the cast has brought a brilliantly fresh and unique approach to these wonderful characters. I can't think of anyone better than Rosamund to bring back to life the fabulous Lady Penelope, and we are honoured that David Graham has joined the cast to revisit his role as Parker.
Thunderbirds Are Go! is being produced by ITV Studios and New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures, with Weta Workshop designing the series and producing the miniatures. The 26 30-minute episodes will debut on CITV in 2015.

Ridge's fellow executive producers are Estelle Hughes for ITV Studios and Richard Taylor and Andrew Smith for Pukeko Pictures. The head writer is Rob Hoegee and the series director is David Scott, with Theo Baynton as episodic director.

Thunderbirds originally aired on ITV from 1965 to 1966, with 32 episodes over two series. The first episode - Trapped In The Sky - was first broadcast 48 years ago today, with ATV Midlands, Westward, and Channel being the first TV regions in the UK to show it.




Thunderbirds Are Go AgainBookmark and Share

Monday, 4 February 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
ITV is to reinvent the cult TV series Thunderbirds, it announced today.

The broadcaster will be working with the New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop on 26 30-minute episodes, which will mix CGI animation and live-action model sets. They are scheduled to debut on CITV in 2015 - 50 years after the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series first hit TV screens in the UK on the commercial channel ITV.

Currently in pre-production, it has been given the working title of Thunderbirds Are Go! and will once again see the five Tracy brothers piloting their vehicles into international rescues.

The series head writer is Rob Hoegee, and it has been commissioned by Jamila Metran, head of programming for CITV, who said:
Thunderbirds Are Go! will be a hugely exciting new show for the CITV audience. We're delighted to be working with ITV Studios and the talented teams at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, whose success and innovation is renowned across the film and television industry. Thunderbirds is a much-loved British institution with significant global recognition, and our audience will relish this timely opportunity to discover the new series 50 years on.

Denise O'Donoghue, the managing director of ITV Studios UK, said:
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, the co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, said:
Thunderbirds was a hugely influential television series in my childhood. Having watched it originally in black and white, it was only years later that I discovered the full and rich world that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Derek Meddings, Mike Trimm, and their team created. It is thrilling, therefore, 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.

Andrew Smith, the chief executive of Pukeko Pictures, commented:
Pukeko Pictures is focused on high-quality value-based programming, and we are thrilled to be associated with such an iconic brand, one that brilliantly encompasses family values, heroism, and generosity. We are very proud to partner with ITV Studios to create a new era of Thunderbirds.

It is being executive-produced by Estelle Hughes for ITV Studios, Giles Ridge for ITV Studios Global Entertainment, and Taylor and Smith for Pukeko Pictures.




ITV To Mark 30 Years Of Children's ProgrammesBookmark and Share

Friday, 21 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The 30th anniversary of the Children's ITV brand is to be marked with a special documentary and an "Old Skool Weekend" of iconic programmes from the '80s and '90s.

Children's ITV launched on 3rd January 1983, and in the early days guest presenters - including Roland Rat, Timmy Mallet, and Basil Brush - pre-recorded the intros to children's programming every month. In 1987, Children's ITV went live, with output presented by Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore. The CITV channel arrived on 11th March 2006 and, with its mix of programming aimed primarily at four-to-nine-year-olds, now broadcasts approximately a third of original content.

A one-hour documentary entitled 30 Years Of CITV will be shown on ITV1 on Saturday 29th December at 6.30pm, while between 9.25am and 6pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January, CITV will be showing a selection of its iconic shows, including the first and last episodes of Press Gang - Steven Moffat's first TV work - and episodes from Children's Ward, which was produced by Russell T Davies, who also wrote for it, as well as an episode of Button Moon, whose theme music was co-composed by Peter Davison.

The "Old Skool Weekend" schedule is as follows:

    SATURDAY 5th JANUARY
  • 9.25am: Mike and Angelo (1990)
  • 9.50am: Super Gran (second episode, 1985)
  • 10.15am: Wizadora (last episode, 1998)
  • 10.30am: T-Bag (1987)
  • 10.50am: Engie Benjy (series 3, episode 1, 2004)
  • 11.05am: The Raggy Dolls (1994)
  • 11.15am: Puddle Lane (1986)
  • 11.35am: Count Duckula (1991)
  • 12pm: The Sooty Show (1986)
  • 12.25pm: Art Attack (1992)
  • 12.40pm: The Big Bang (1997)
  • 1pm: Finders Keepers (1991)
  • 1.30pm: Fun House (1994)
  • 2pm: Knightmare (1993)
  • 2.30pm: Fraggle Rock (1983)
  • 3pm: The Worst Witch (1998)
  • 3.30pm: Woof! (Eric, first episode, 1989)
  • 4pm: Dramarama (Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night, 1988)
  • 4.30pm: Press Gang (first episode, 1989)
  • 5pm: The Tomorrow People (1992)
  • 5.30pm: Children's Ward (2000)

    SUNDAY 6th JANUARY
  • 9.25am: Mike and Angelo
  • 9.50am: Spatz (1992)
  • 10.10am: Huxley Pig
  • 10.30am: Rainbow (1984)
  • 10.50am: Button Moon (1985)
  • 11.05am: The Riddlers
  • 11.15am: Rosie and Jim (first episode, 1990)
  • 11.35am: Dangermouse (1986)
  • 12pm: Sooty & Co (1993)
  • 12.25pm: How 2 (1995)
  • 12.40pm: Fingertips (2002)
  • 1pm: Jungle Run (2001)
  • 1.30pm: Fun House (1995)
  • 2pm: Knightmare (1993)
  • 2.30pm: Fraggle Rock (1983)
  • 3pm: My Parents Are Aliens (2005)
  • 3.30pm: Woof! (Rex, 1993)
  • 4pm: Dramarama (Back To Front, 1989)
  • 4.30pm: Press Gang (last episode, 1993)
  • 5pm: The Tomorrow People (1992)
  • 5.30pm: Children's Ward (unknown)




Primeval Series 5 Episode 6 DetailsBookmark and Share

Monday, 9 July 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The stakes are high and lives are lost as the dangerous world of anomalies comes to its climax and future predator hybrids are unleashed in the sixth and final episode of the fifth series of Primeval.

The team is at a loss. Connor has disappeared through Philip's anomaly and Matt thinks that his mission is over – Philip has won. Matt has a decision to make about what to do next – and jumps through the anomaly to save Connor.

He finds himself in a barren desert world, with Connor struggling in the immense heat and deadly sun's rays: a world we recognise from Matt's dreams. Worse still, coming towards them are a group of disgustingly mutated future predators, intent on causing some damage. They're facing a deadly attack with no defence, until an EMD shot rings out; Abby has followed them through the anomaly. Luckily, Matt seems to know his way around and the group head for a bunker, protection from the threat of the heat and the predators. Beginning to recover, Connor's guilt about his role in Philip's project is overwhelming. It takes a whispered promise from Abby to give him the impetus to carry on and get back to the ARC in one last attempt to save the world…

Back at New Dawn, Emily has been captured and questions Philip about what he's done, but they're distracted by the anomaly, which is rapidly increasing in size. The scientists are starting to abandon ship as the building begins to shake, but things are even worse at the ARC, where, although all the anomalies have closed, some kind of strange atmospheric changes are playing havoc with their comms.

Connor, Matt, and Abby make their way back to the anomaly, shocked by its now-enormous size. They arrive back through it to find an abandoned New Dawn. But Philip, shocked by the atmospheric changes taking place, watches from inside New Dawn as dark clouds gather and the Earth seems to be taking its revenge.

Connor gives Philip an impassioned speech about what they're seeing and about the effects his machine will have in the future. Philip knows there's only one thing he can do: attempt to shut down the machine alone. He knows this is suicide, but he has to do something to try to right his wrongs. New Dawn explodes under the pressure but, to the shock of the team, the anomaly still remains.

At the ARC, future predators have managed to infiltrate it via Connor's small man-made anomaly, which has reopened with Philip's machine. Jess and Lester are facing a losing battle as they run out of weapons and ammunition. As the team arrive back, they're faced with Jess cradling a mortally-injured Lester and they're thrown into a fight to save the ARC and bring down the future predators. Suddenly, Connor realises how they might be able to stop Philip's anomaly expanding, but they need to utilise his stable, man-made version to do so.

They face a race against time to get Connor's anomaly to New Dawn in time to stop it. However, for it to work Connor's anomaly needs to go into the big one. Matt knows this is his time and he tells the team he'll drive the anomaly into New Dawn's anomaly. Emily and Matt have a tearful goodbye as Matt drives into the anomaly. Will he make it back or is he gone forever?
This creature is obviously not based on any real animal but it is assumed that as long as the Earth's climate remains as seasonal as it is then mammals will continue to be the dominant group of animals. If that is so then rats and bats are by far the most common groups of mammals (accounting for three-quarters of all mammal species) and any large predator could well evolve from them.

The future predator was first encountered in the final episode of series one when the team first discovers that anomalies can open to the future as well as the past. Genetic tests reveal the predator is a type of wingless bat with lightning-fast reactions and the ability to stalk its prey using high-frequency sonar.

In this episode, the future predator, having evolved through thousands of years of catastrophic change in the Earth's environment, is one of the last species left. However. the atmosphere has taken its toll and the future predator is now a deformed, sickly, malnourished creature struggling to survive - but still as vicious as ever . . .

The episode is currently scheduled to go out on ITV1 on Saturday 21st July at 5.30pm but please note that the transmission time may change between now and then.

(newslink: ITV Press Centre)