The Thunderbirds have landed! The iconic puppet series celebrated at Symphony Hall

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Six decades of themes from Gerry Anderson’s TV shows live in concert with a full orchestra and clips from the shows on Saturday (April 16)

The iconic music from the world famous TV puppet shows the Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet is being celebrated at Birmingham Symphony Hall like never before.

The one-off concert - the World Premiere of Stand By For Action! Gerry Anderson in Concert - will see those timeless soundtracks brought to life by a full symphony orchestra, and guest singers, transporting fans straight back to their childhoods through the legendary TV producer’s back catalogue.

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His inspirational shows with their groundbreaking special effects, captivating characters, fascinating stories and evocative music scores have been entertaining youngsters since the 1960s.

Birmingham was chosen because the city is where many of the distinctive puppets and sound effects were created.

The show has been curated with Gerry Anderson’s son Jamie, who is Director of Anderson Entertainment.

The musicians include Anderson composer Crispin Merrell on piano, conducted by BAFTA-winning composer and Anderson alumnus, Richard Harvey.

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Puppets Titan (Stingray), Virgil and Scott (Thunderbirds) were made in BirminghamPuppets Titan (Stingray), Virgil and Scott (Thunderbirds) were made in Birmingham
Puppets Titan (Stingray), Virgil and Scott (Thunderbirds) were made in Birmingham | B: Music

What will be included in Stand By For Action! Gerry Anderson in Concert?

The themes and incidental music will be presented alongside stunning visuals from the series and films including newly produced, specially restored, and previously unseen footage.

It is the first time this complete, career-spanning collection of film and music has been performed live in concert.

The concert will be hosted by special guest Jon Culshaw, who provides the voices for characters including Parker and Jeff Tracy in Anderson Entertainment’s Thunderbirds audio stories.

The iconic theme tunes and incidental music from classic Anderson shows will be played on the night, including:

Thunderbirds, Space: 1999,

Captain Scarlet,

Stingray and UFO

Terrahawks

Space Precinct, and

New Captain Scarlet

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Thunderbirds rocket from the TV puppet showThunderbirds rocket from the TV puppet show
Thunderbirds rocket from the TV puppet show | B: Music

The will be featured along with Anderson’s earliest work like

The Adventures of Twizzle,

Torchy the Battery Boy, and

Four Feather Fails

Organisers say: “Regardless of their entry point into the worlds of Gerry Anderson, fans can be assured of a nostalgic and exciting evening that will take them straight back to their childhoods.”

Jamie Anderson, Director of Anderson Entertainment, added, “I cannot wait for fans to enjoy this exciting, nostalgia-packed and varied evening of iconic tunes with a full video backdrop. The concert will feature exclusive footage and newly restored colour and high-definition content. This truly is an epic journey not to be missed.

TV producer Gerry Anderson’s son JamieTV producer Gerry Anderson’s son Jamie
TV producer Gerry Anderson’s son Jamie | B: Music

Is there more information about Birmingham’s connection to Gerry Anderson and The Thunderbirds?

One of Birmingham’s connections to Gerry Anderson’s work is that many of the most-recognisable puppets were created in the city. John Blundall was one of Britain’s foremost puppet masters and designers, who created memorable work in both theatre and television.

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Born in Birmingham, Blundall had made his first puppets by the age of 14, before going on to train in puppet-making and theatre in Russia and Japan. In 1966, Blundall joined the staff of Birmingham’s Midland Arts Centre, where he founded the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in 1968.

Among the puppets designed by Blundall was the character of Aloysius Parker from Thunderbirds. Blundall was one of four puppet designers who worked with Gerry Anderson to create the characters for the series, as well as characters for Supercar, Stingray and Fireball XL5.

Grosvenor Road Recording Studios in HandsworthGrosvenor Road Recording Studios in Handsworth
Grosvenor Road Recording Studios in Handsworth | Google Maps

In addition to the puppets, the original sound effects for many of Gerry Anderson’s TV productions were created in Birmingham. Grosvenor Road Studios, in Handsworth, formerly the renowned Hollick & Taylor Studios, has been Birmingham’s best kept secret for over sixty years.

During that period, many firsts have been recorded at the studios including all the original sound effects for Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Supercar and others. The effects were often improvised by studio owners John and Jean Taylor, placing Jean in a small group of women at the forefront of electronic music and sound effects. Grosvenor Road Studios, where one of the studios is called the Thunderbird Suite, is now the home of B:Music’s Associate Artists Black Voices.

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Jez Collins and Jamie Anderson at Grosvenor Road StudiosJez Collins and Jamie Anderson at Grosvenor Road Studios
Jez Collins and Jamie Anderson at Grosvenor Road Studios | B: Music

Jez Collins, Founder of Birmingham Music Archive said, “Grosvenor Road Studios is such an important part of Birmingham’s history. It’s Birmingham’s Abbey Road. Both Noddy Holder and John Bonham began their recording careers here. Reggae legends such as Jimmy Cliff and Steel Pulse have recorded here, and it is where the sound effects were made for a number of Gerry Anderson’s TV shows.

“Over 60 years ago, John and Jean Taylor made up the sound effects as they went along. They would go into the garden or around the house and find things to make the sounds- stones and pebbles, nuts and bolts, knives and forks, or even just banging the doors.

“It was a very experimental time, and Jean was an early pioneer of women in electronic effects. I am delighted that this is going to be celebrated at Symphony Hall, as many of us feel that Birmingham really is the spiritual home of these great shows.”

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