Impressionist Jon Culshaw and Harry Potter star Genevieve Gaunt voice Thunderbirds legends in new audiobook

It’s the news Thunderbirds fans of all ages have been waiting for. Parker and Lady Penelope, two of the best-loved characters from the hit 1960s show, are back!

Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars Audio Book

Yes, Parker and Lady Penelope, along with the Tracy brothers, Jeff Tracy, the evil Hood and the brilliant Brains, can be heard again very soon in the first of an exciting new series of audiobooks, launching this May.

In Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars, an updated version of the story first released in the 1960s, the ex-con cockney chauffeur Parker and the stylish aristocrat Lady Penelope, originally voiced by David Graham and Sylvia Anderson, will be brought to life by voice actor and impressionist Jon Culshaw, star of Dead Ringers and Spitting Image, and actress Genevieve Gaunt, also known as Pansy Parkinson in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Wilhelmina ‘Willow’ Moreno Henstridge in the popular soap opera, The Royals.

But that’s not all. Jon, a fan of Gerry Anderson since childhood, will also be voicing Jeff Tracy, the head of the Tracy family, who coordinates rescue missions from his futuristic base on Tracy Island.

“I grew up with Gerry Anderson’s shows,” says Jon, so working on this audiobook has been a delight. I also love voicing contrasting characters – and they don’t get much more different than Jeff Tracy and Parker!”

Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars Book

And fans of the still enormously popular original Thunderbirds series are in for another treat. In a charming gesture, the Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars audiobook includes a message from David Graham, who played the original Parker (along with Brains and Gordon), saying that, in his 96th year, he feels he now deserves a rest and is passing the baton to the new team.

As well as Jon and Genevieve, the new line-up includes Wayne Forester, Justin T Lee, Joe Jameson and Anna Leong Brophy.

Covers of the original Thunderbirds novels released in the 1960s, published by Armada, featuring internal illustrations by Peter Archer
Covers of the original Thunderbirds novels released in the 1960s, published by Armada, featuring internal illustrations by Peter Archer

This audiobook, an adaptation of the 1965 novel Thunderbirds credited to ”John Theydon”, pseudonym of John W. Jennison, is the first of Anderson Entertainment‘s new range of audio versions of classic Gerry Anderson stories from the 1960s and 1970s, thanks to a new licensing deal with ITV Studios.

More audiobooks are now in production and will be available soon, including Stingray, Joe 90, Space:1999, UFO and, of course, more Thunderbirds stories.

John W. Jennison wrote many of these, most as Theydon, but two Thunderbirds hard back novels, Lost World and Operation Asteroids, were released under his own name. Other writers in the books included Kevin McGarry.

Thunderbirds - Operation Asteroids
Thunderbirds – Operation Asteroids.Image via eBay

Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars is available for pre-order now, 11th April, in a four-CD set that includes a behind-the-scenes documentary, along with a hardcover reissue of the original book. Both are available exclusively from the Gerry Anderson store.

A digital version of the book can be exclusively pre-ordered from Big Finish.

The release of the audiobook and hardcover edition will take place in May – soon after the excitement of the first-ever Gerry Anderson Day on 14th April. Gerry Anderson Day celebrates the life and works of the legendary producer with special events, live streams, unique new content from Gerry’s own production company Anderson Entertainment, one-off and limited edition products, and a special YouTube programme.

Pre-order Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars Audio Book

Pre-order Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars Hardback

I KNOW THAT VOICE…

• The original Lady Penelope puppet’s facial features were based on those of Sylvia Anderson. She was sculpted by Mary Turner, who also created John Tracy, Gordon Tracy and Brains

Century 21 Records - Thunderbirds - The Stately Homes Robberies

• David Graham and Sylvia Anderson featured in three original Thunderbirds dramas produced by Century 21 Records in the 1960s, part of a number of releases, the others adaptations of TV episodes that included additional narration from a member of the original voice cast performing in character

Two records – “F.A.B.” and “The Stately Homes Robberies” – are narrated from the point of view of Lady Penelope and Parker, and feature original songs composed by Barry Gray. An original mini-episode also features on the Century 21 release, TV21 Themes

Century 21 Records - TV21 Themes

• Lady Penelope, again voiced by Sylvia Anderson, appeared to the character of Edina Monsoon in a dream sequence in “Hospital”, a 1994 episode of the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous

Sophia Myles played Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and Ron Cook appeared as Aloysius Parker in the 2004 live-action film, Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds are Go - Lady Penelope and Parker
Lady Penelope and Parker as featured in the 2015 series Thunderbirds are Go. Image: ITV

Rosamund Pike voiced Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward in the 2015 series Thunderbirds are Go, with David Graham reprising his role as Parker

• Neither character appears in the Japanese anime series Scientific Rescue Team Techno Voyager (科学救助隊テクノボイジャー, Kagaku Kyūjo Tai Tekunoboijā), a Japanese anime series loosely inspired by Thunderbirds, dubbed into English as Thunderbirds 2086

WEB LINKS

Fantastic Fiction – John W, Jennison Bibliography

Check out this visual guide to original Thunderbirds merchandise, featuring the original covers of the Thunderbirds books written by John Theydon

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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1 reply

  1. I’m old enough to have bought the original version of this updated “Thunderbirds” novel!

    My first introduction to the books of John Theydon (real name John W. Jennison) was “Stingray and the Monster”, bought on Perranporth Beach in Armada paperback for 2/6…

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