Gerry Anderson puppets, collected by studio driver, go to auction

An original title board from Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr's Terrahawks is seen at Ewbank's Auctioneers, ahead of a sale at their showroom in Woking
An original title board from Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr's Terrahawks is seen at Ewbank's Auctioneers, ahead of a sale at their showroom in Woking, Britain, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

November 10, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – A treasure trove of models and puppets from “Thunderbirds” creator Gerry Anderson’s TV shows and commercials that was salvaged and stored away for 30 years by a driver at the production studio has come to light and is set to go up for auction this month.

“I’ve been in auctions for over 15 years, and we’ve never had a collection of Gerry Anderson items this big in one auction,” Alastair McCrea, auction house Ewbank’s entertainment and memorabilia valuer, told Reuters.

The bulk of the sale is items from 1980s science fiction show “Terrahawks” as well as some pieces from “Captain Scarlet” and pilot show “Space Police”. 

They include a rare surviving puppet head for character Captain Ochre from the original 1960s Captain Scarlet series expected to go for between 5,000-8,000 pounds ($6,500-$10,500) and a model battlehawk from “Terrahawks” which was one of the shows’ key ships, and is likely to fetch 4,000-6,000 pounds ($5,270-$7,900). 

Anderson was not known for keeping his puppets and models after filming.

“They usually just destroyed everything,” McCrea said.

However a former employee called Julian Bell who worked as a driver at Bray Studios where “Terrahawks” was made, kept some items.   

“He was a massive Gerry Anderson fan. And he collected these items when he worked there, and he kept it all in his flat near Windsor, and he kept it until he sadly passed away last year,” McCrea said.    

Anderson’s son and director of Anderson Entertainment, Jamie Anderson, told Reuters they were lucky it was all saved.

“Dad would have thought it was ridiculous at the time. He would have thought ‘come on, this guy’s just hoarding junk’. But it turns out it’s not junk.”

“What an amazing collection and what a sizeable one to preserve for all that time,” he said.  

The whole collection is expected to be sold for around £150,000 in the online auction on Nov. 30. 

Gerry Anderson, who died in 2012, started his television career in the 1950s. His company AP Films pioneered the “supermarionation” puppetry technique with the fusion of marionette figures and small-scale models to create live action-style shows.

Speaking about “Terrahawks”, which is set in the year 2020, Jamie Anderson said it was not his father’s “proudest show” but he loved elements of it.

“And we’re really lucky that a fan as passionate as Julian worked for Anderson Burr Pictures at the time, and Dad’s companies a bit later on, that he had the foresight to save it.”

(Reporting by Sarah Mills and Will Russell, Editing by Angus MacSwan)