A draughty warehouse on the Slough Trading Estate in the 1960s: what could possibly be so special about such a place? One word: Supermarionation… the term most associated with Gerry Anderson’s many TV shows, and the inspiration for Moon Rangers, recently seen on ITV’s detective series, Endeavour.
In Century 21 Slough, the former studios of iconic series such as Stingray, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, The Secret Service, UFO, and, most famously, Thunderbirds, fans have the opportunity to revisit the workplace of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and team one final time by the crew – before the demolition of the buildings in 2017.
Original puppets and models from the series are returned to their former home as director David Elliott, puppeteer Mary Turner, Dee Anderson (daughter of Sylvia Anderson), model maker Alan Shubrook, director and producer David Lane, and Academy Award special effects winner Brian Johnson reminisce over the production of some of the most magical and impressive television and film achievements, with the aid of rare archive footage and photographs – some seen here for the first time.
The documentary also includes the final piece of Supermarionation filmed in the original building as David Elliott returns to the director’s chair and Mary Turner climbs the puppet bridge once again…
The documentary is the work of Century 21 Films Ltd, a multi-faceted production company whose work spans drama to documentary, miniature effects to puppet shows, founded by a group of filmmakers who first collaborated on Filmed in Supermarionation, the story of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s hit puppet shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet.
In addition to their regular filmmaking services, the company specialise in Supermarionation – the puppetry filming technique used to make shows like Thunderbirds – and have collaborated with ITV repeatedly to provide specialised services. Their work has been featured on The One Show, This Morning, Good Morning Britain, BBC News, ITV News and Mastermind.
Most recently, you’ll have seen some of their work in “Apollo”, the recently-broadcast episode of ITV’s Endeavour, where the team created sequences from a fictional show, Moon Rangers, as part of the story – with one of the puppets modelled on the creator of Inspector Morse, author Colin Dexter!
There’s more about this project here on the Century 21 Films web site.
In addition to their ITV work, Century 21 Films has worked for a multitude of high-profile clients including the BBC, Mammoth Productions, the British Film Institute and the Halifax working on projects such Thunderbirds, Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone.
ANIMATION’S SILENT ERA CELEBRATED IN CARTOON CARNIVAL
2019 will see the release of Century 21’s second feature length documentary, Cartoon Carnival – a feature-length documentary look at the birth of the animated art-form, telling the often forgotten story of the pioneers of the silent era.
For many, the history of the animated cartoon begins with the story of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, but in reality the story begins as soon as man first dreamed of somehow capturing the moving image. Hand in hand with live-action cinema pioneers, early animation artists pushed the boundaries of what was technically and artistically possible in an exciting new medium – and also created an industry when they discovered what would sell to hungry audiences!
To tell its story, Cartoon Carnival pulls together experts in the field of animation history and showcases brand new transfers of rare short films and archive material, some of which has not been seen by the public for almost a century.
• Century 21 Slough is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray now. Each pre-order comes with a set of commemorative postcards. You can order from the link here – or you can buy or rent a downloadable copy here on Vimeo
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.