Thank you for supporting Security Hazard

Hello folks, Jack here. I’ve been posting quite sporadically recently due to multiple dramatic shifts in how much spare time I did, and then didn’t, and then did again, and now definitely don’t have, so I wanted to post a little thank you for sticking with me.

When I started the Security Hazard blog just over four years ago I had recently moved to the other side of the world, was living with my incredibly generous and incredibly new in-laws, and (due to the joys of the US immigration system) faced many months of unemployment. It was a time that was scary and exciting in equal measure. With time on my hands, I turned my attention to something which had been an absolute constant in my life since Day 1 – the work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

I started writing whatever the heck I fancied about all my favourite TV series. This evolved into weekly reviews of Thunderbirds episodes which I hope made you laugh, and also made you cry a little when you realised that the person writing said reviews must basically have no life. The blog evolved further when my dear wife, Katherine, joined me to create a podcast called Operation Anderthon. That experience taught us that Destiny Angel needs to work on her attitude, the Space Police pilot is a bit too long, and that Katherine and I have vastly different opinions about the palm trees either side of Thunderbird 2’s runway.

In between those projects I’ve pursued other passions connected with the Gerry Anderson universe. These have included showcasing Anderson LEGO models, streaming live on Facebook, creating quizzes, and producing a fan-made Terrahawks festive special based on A Christmas Carol. You’re welcome.

Somehow, despite some enormous highs and lows over the past four years and often with months going by in between posts, people have been decent enough to stick with me. I absolutely love hearing from you all and reading your comments. It’s a delight to learn about your earliest memories of Thunderbirds, and how you agree or disagree with my many musings. I was even fortunate enough to meet some of you in-person at the 2019 Fanderson event.

I’ve never written my articles with a particular audience in mind, which is why it surprises me just how many people get in touch on a regular basis with words of encouragement. It means a great deal, and I almost certainly would not have kept going for this long without that support. I am grateful to all of those people who realise that I am just a guy who writes nonsense about puppet shows for fun. You accept my mistakes, and celebrate the things I get right with great enthusiasm. And, just ocassionally, crazy things happen like the BBC interviewing me as some sort of expert authority on The Investigator

I have great things I want to do with Security Hazard. It may take months and years because I’m mostly just one guy doing this all in my spare time (which I seem to have less and less of as I get older and balder). More podcasts, more reviews, more LEGO builds, more videos, and more oddities are a certainty. New things which dare to push the boundaries of common sense are also a certainty.

First and foremost I’m here to make content which entertains you and keeps me out of trouble. So here are just some of the random things that I am planning for the future (the distant future in some cases) in no particular order:

  • Stingray Reviews – when Network eventually release their blu-ray sets, I’m going to be all over that like X20 on a grand piano.
  • Operation Anderthon Season 2 – Katherine and I are making preparations to bring the podcast back at some point… just as soon as Katherine stops saying “oh no, not again,” every time I bring it up…
  • LEGO Zero-X – once I can track down enough LEGO bricks that are the right shade of dark blue, I’ll be taking over assembly control and making sure lift body two actually stands a chance of docking successfully with the main body.
  • Something Something Virtual Reality – Katherine and I just treated ourselves to a virtual reality headset… we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it yet… but I’m sure there’s an amusing Anderson-related video in there somewhere.
  • Thunderbirds Reviews 2.0 – it’s been almost four years since my original Thunderbirds reviews were written. They’re great and all, but they could do with an update in some form or another. Really haven’t thought about it much beyond that…

Hopefully I’ve managed to whet your appetite for more Security Hazard goodness. It may take some time because of real life, and I welcome any suggestions about what you fine folks would like to see. Thank you for your patience, be good to each other, and whatever you do, stay F.A.B.

 

 

Gemini Force One, Into Infinity, Space Precinct, and Terrahawks audiobooks are coming to Big Finish!

From the team that brought you exciting audio releases of Captain ScarletTerrahawksand Space: 1999, a terrific explosion of new audiobook releases is coming in early June, with even more planned for the future! Who’s behind it all? Why it’s those fine folks at Big Finish Productions and Anderson Entertainment. Titles from the worlds of Gerry Anderson old and new that have been announced include Into Infinity, Gemini Force One, Space Precinct, and more Terrahawks!

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Gemini Force One is a Thunderbirds-esque international rescue series originally penned by Gerry Anderson and completed by Joshua Files author, MG Harris. The first adventure, Black Horizon, will be read by actor Jacob Dudman.

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Into Infinity is based on the 1970s television pilot created by Gerry Anderson starring Nick Tate and Brian Blessed. The Day After Tomorrow, the first of a range of new audiobook readings of novelisations by science fiction author Gregory L Norris, will be narrated by Robbie Stevens.

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Space Precinct also gets a novelisation of its original opening story, Demeter City, which was never produced for the 1990s television series’ original run. The story sees its lead characters Brogan and Haldane leave their beats in New York City and arriving on the planet Altor – feeding directly into the opening TV story. Written by Paul Mayhew Archer it has been adapted and read by Richard James.

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And Terrahawks: Expect the Unexpected, an original novel from the 1980s by Jack Curtis, is also being narrated by original series voice, Robbie Stevens.

Future ranges and productions of both fiction and non-fiction titles will include more Space Precinct stories, Gemini Force One titles, the second Into Infinity novel – Planetfall, and New Captain Scarlet content to be released later this year and into 2021.

Series producer for Anderson Entertainment, Jamie Anderson said: “We’ve wanted to do more work with Big Finish Productions for some time as they are the natural home for Gerry Anderson on audio. With this deal, I’m so thrilled to see the worlds of Gerry Anderson expanding for fans across the globe to enjoy, at a time when entertainment and content is so important.”

Big Finish Productions Chairman, Jason Haigh-Ellery said: “I am so excited about these new productions we are doing with Anderson Entertainment. Gerry Anderson was a hero to my generation. I vividly remember watching Into Infinity and looking forward to seeing the next episode the following week – but then being massively disappointed when my parents told me it was a one-off. Now, 45 years later, I can finally get to share the adventures of the Bowen and Masters families!

“I have always been fascinated by the production process and the alternative original pilot for Space Precinct always intrigued me. And now we can all listen to the differences in tone and ideas. I do hope Anderson fans enjoy these productions as much as we did putting them together.”

The first four audiobooks are available for pre-order now via the Big Finish website at www.bigfinish.com. (All titles are download only.)

The June releases (and prices) are:

Gemini Force One: Black Horizon by MG Harris read by Jacob Dudman – £9.99

Space Precinct: Demeter City by Paul Mayhew Archer adapted and read by Richard James – £4.99

Terrahawks: Expect the Unexpected by Jack Curtis, read by Robbie Stevens – £5.99

Into Infinity: The Day After Tomorrow by Gregory L Norris, read by Robbie Stevens – £9.99

Big Finish listeners can pre-order all of the above titles in a bundle for just £24.

Further ranges and productions will be released later in 2020 and into 2021.

Nebula-75: Filmed in Superisolation, but keeping the “Super” in Supermarionation

What happens to Supermarionation if you take away the lavish sets, dozens of background characters, multiple explosive special effects, and the generous financial backing of Lew Grade. Is it still super?

As I am sure you are aware, much of the world went into lockdown in 2020 because, frankly, it was the most sensible thing to do. Film and television production haulted, and the Century 21 Films team (Filmed In Supermarionation, Thunderbirds 1965, Endeavour) were temporarily unable to proceed with the Supermarionation work they had in development. So what do a team of film-making pioneers do when living in a flat full of puppets, props, and models? Of course they turn their living room into a makeshift Supermarionation studio and create a brand new series tailored to the restraints of production in lockdown conditions…

I say this with my tongue rooted firmly in my cheek because it is that kind of wonderful, light-hearted spirit that has made the Nebula-75 series so enjoyable to see evolve. The hard work of the 1960s Supermarionation production team is taken quite seriously by fans. We marvel at the technicians who shielded themselves from enormous flames which blackened the ceilings of the Slough studios. We are filled with admiration for the puppeteers which squeezeed together on top of the puppet bridge, dangled dangerously over the side, holding electrical cables between their teeth just to achieve a large crowd scene. We reverently consider the heroism of fellows like Derek Meddings climbing into a pool of crocodiles and leaping straight out again at the first sign of peril. It was a serious and sometimes life-threatening job. But it was also a bit silly. Filming in Supermarionation on the Slough Trading Estate was not like working at any regular office job, or even at a regular film studio. They must have had a lot of laughs at some quite extraordinary moments while trying to make the best puppet films the world had ever seen.

That same joyous spirit is there in great spoonfuls in Nebula-75, despite the entire production being dictated by working with next-to-no budget in a small flat, only using existing materials. But to quote from the Thunderbirds episode, The Impostors, “does that matter? After all, it isn’t the equipment that interests us. No, sir! It’s the great guys who use it.”

Yes, the Century 21 Films team have used their wealth of Supermarionation experience, and incredible creativity and ingenuity to create a series which is not hampered by its restrictions but enhanced by them.

The team make use of every inch of space their living room has to offer!

The drama is driven by the characters, all of whom are exceptionally likeable personalities. While listening to Ray Neptune tell his stories, we are comforted by his very human uncertainty about what he might be facing. Yet he is heroic, without being arrogant. Doctor Asteroid is a muddled scientist without being infuriating. Circuit is highly-strung but also charming. Every character, be they a regular or a guest, an alien or an Earthling, has a heart. Even some of the original Supermarionation characters struggle to win my affections because they are a tad one-dimensional (Fireball XL5 particularly suffers from this affliction in my opinion – Professor Mattic is about the only character I find who possesses any warmth, and even he can get a bit grating).

Circuit relaxes on set.

Time for an award-winning piece of criticism: the fact that the show is made at home means that it looks homemade and I think that is good… I know, you’re holding back your applause. Let me explain:

One feels an uneasiness when watching the first episode of Twizzle because you can see the struggle going on between what the puppeteers and director are trying to make the puppet appear to be doing, and the puppet just not quite being able to achieve it. One might argue that AP Films didn’t quite know what they were doing at this early stage. But they improved quickly, working incredibly hard to refine their skills, build puppets that were functional and more appealing, and tailoring stories to both push their talents further, while working around what simply was not possible. Those same principles have been applied to Nebula-75. Each episode is more ambitious than the last, yet still the production continues to rely on using bookcases as pieces of set decorated with cardboard and shiny tape. The Century 21 Films team have owned the  fact that their show is made at home, and made it a part of the show. It doesn’t look homemade through lack of skill, or laziness. It is a choice which is not only realised extremely well (a set made out of bookcases has never looked better!), but also does not detract from the real magic of the show.

And that’s the thing, Nebula-75 and all Supermarionation projects that are done right, are magical. When a puppet comes to life on screen, with all the energy that a good dialogue performance can bring, and – perhaps most imporatantly – some highly skilled puppeteering delivered by an experienced operator, it is simply magical. An inanimate object coming to life sounds like the stuff of fairy tales, but it is what I believe Supermarionation is all about, and why it is still engaging to watch 60 years since the idea was conceived. Magic doesn’t get old. And viewers will believe that the puppet characters are alive and driving the story forward whether the sets around them cost £25,000 or £2.50.

I look forward to seeing Nebula-75 continue. It is most definitely Supermarionation. As long as the enjoyable characters remain at the heart of it all, I am certain that the series has a future, even outside of Superisolation…

Stay tuned to Nebula-75 on social media for the latest news!

Spectrum HQ Cloudbase – LEGO MOC

One day I was surveying my collection of Gerry Anderson themed LEGO models and I realised that I had yet to build anything from Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons. I love the sleek design of the vehicles from Captain Scarlet, but they don’t necessarily lend themselves easily to the more blocky look of LEGO without the use of specialised parts. A better builder than I with a more expansive parts inventory would probably make an easy job of building a LEGO Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle or a Spectrum Passenger Jet, but each vehicle presents a unique challenge either because of its shape or its colour.

I was still determined, however, to add a Captain Scarlet MOC to my collection.  Quickly scanning through my parts I guesstimated that I would just about have enough grey bricks and plates to create a sizeable version of Cloudbase, headquarters of the Spectrum organisation. Go big or go home, right?

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For reference I relied heavily on the Vivid Imaginations Soundtech Cloudbase toy from the early 2000’s – the exact one I’ve had since my 8th birthday. It is, quite simply, one of the best toys ever produced based on a Gerry Anderson series. In addition I studied shots from the series itself and Graham Bleathman’s cutaway artwork.

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The starting point was to put together a tiny Angel Interceptor to sit on the flight deck. As with all micro scale builds, it was important to try to capture as much detail as possible with as few bricks as possible. I desperately tried to limit the width of the aircraft to just four studs, theoretically allowing two of them to sit side by side, on an eight-stud-wide plate.

With the approximate scale figured out, it was then just a question of putting bricks together until I had the shape of the Angel Interceptor flight deck. Then came the tricky part. Cloudbase is essentially one giant rectangle with the Angel flight deck, the engines, and the Command Centre stuck on the sides. In order to support the weight of all these elements, the core structure had to be incredibly strong, which is difficult when the shape of the body is large and flat. The internal structure of the main body is therefore a maze of bricks and plates overlapping each other and then covered in as many grey plates as I could get my hands on. Deeply buried in each corner for maximum strength is one of the four engine units that keep Cloudbase hovering at 40,000 feet in the air. As an additional touch, I also created a simple hinge mechanism for the “Spectra-fan” at one end, which supposedly tilts upright to slow aircraft down as they land.

I experimented multiple times with ways to add markings to the deck of this Cloudbase build, but as of right now I don’t have the parts to create a smooth, detailed surface. For the moment, therefore, the studs remain exposed. Although I would certainly like to finish this aspect of the build more in the future, maximum accuracy and perfect polish was never my goal when putting this together. I just wanted a big model of Cloudbase that clearly looked like Cloudbase.

The Cloudbase Command Centre is probably one of the least LEGO-friendly shapes I have ever attempted. I started with the circular base which was constructed by connecting a ring of 1×2 swivel/hinge plates together. Then, using a combination of SNOT construction and carefully selected slope bricks I managed to piece together the approximate shape of the building. Inside, bricks were once again used to reinforce the many elements which had to come together in all sorts of awkward ways. Some creativity had to be used at times as my inventory of grey plates had almost completely run out during construction of the main body.

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When the building was completed and full of all that structural reinforcement it was a mighty heavy block. The next challenge was therefore figuring out how to connect the Command Centre to the engines via only two pieces of support stanchion on either side. At first, I used some old fork-ended hinge pieces to achieve the correct angle. Alas, they were far from capable of carrying the weight. I therefore switched to the more modern ratcheted hinges. Although this limited my options for angling the stanchion, this actually worked in my favour because once a section was in place it remained unable to move. Further reinforcement of the two load-bearing engines was needed by further building up the support on the inside of the main body. Finally, the Command Centre was able to sit above and between the two engines without collapsing under its own weight.

The underside of Cloudbase is hardly ever glimpsed at on screen. The only really important detail seemed to be making sure the circular Amber Room was positioned beneath the Angel Interceptor flight deck. The rest of the detail on Cloudbase’s belly was only roughly detailed using black bricks, slopes, and a couple of satellite dishes to represent hover turbines.

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The finished model is a beast which displays beautifully on top of some transparent bricks to simulate flight. One day I intend to add detail to the runway, and construct a whole fleet of Angel Interceptors to remain on standby. For now though, I am very glad to have this addition to my collection. S.I.G.!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news on my LEGO projects!

Lady Penelope’s Yacht, FAB 2 – LEGO MOC

Sometimes, when I’m trying to come up with my next Anderson-themed LEGO build, I spend hours trying to think up an impressive crowd-pleaser. Other times I want to diversify my collection in order to represent a machine from every series. In the case of FAB 2, I really just wanted to get back to basics and build something fun and a bit different.

Only seen in the classic episode, The Man From MI.5, and later in Introducing Thunderbirds, FAB 2 is hardly the most memorable vehicle in the International Rescue fleet. Its function is to get Penelope, Parker, and FAB 1 from A to B in comfort and style. Fortunately, publications and merchandise over the years have played a part in making this simple pleasure cruiser appear to hold more significance than was probably ever intended.

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FAB 2 as seen in ‘The Man From MI.5’

Graham Bleathman’s cutaway drawings have enabled us to get a closer look at this elegant creation which only appeared in a handful of wide shots during its outing in The Man From MI.5. The original model was repurposed later to appear in Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday but those shots don’t show us very much either. Yet there was something about FAB 2’s obscurity while still holding the designation of ‘FAB’ which made it appealing for me to work on in LEGO and add to my collection.

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As with all of my LEGO creations so far, there was no prior planning or digital construction before I started putting bricks together. For reference I had a few shots from The Man From MI.5 to work with and Graham Bleathman’s cutaway artwork from the Haynes Agent’s Technical Manual and the earlier World of Thunderbirds book. I decided to make this model to the approximate scale of my micro FAB 1 build which is just four LEGO studs long. I try not to get too bogged down in concerns about scale when I’m building. I’m usually more interested in achieving the correct shapes with the pieces I have, rather than trying to make sure something is exactly the right height, length or width compared to something else in my collection.

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I began construction on the bow of the boat, which is by far the most challenging shape to re-create. LEGO produces many large pieces which can easily form the front of a ship, but my own parts inventory only extended to a few of these and none of them were the right colour. I therefore had to to try and sculpt an approximation of the bow using only bricks and angled plates. This technique produces a distinctly LEGO-ey look and perhaps could be refined considering this model is relatively small, but I was limited by the parts I had available (having just finished an enormous model of Cloudbase in grey which I will show you later!).

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Next I started constructing the hull and a garage to contain FAB 1. It would have been all too easy to make the body of the boat completely solid in order to easily build the deck above. However, I felt that creating a space to park FAB 1 was an important feature and decided to leave the necessary space, and added a hinged plate to simulate the rear door.

When working on such a small build with relatively limited parts, certain details can only be suggested. Space on the promenade deck was severely restricted, and trying and build up all of the rooms and pillars which are visible on the original model would have been impossible. It takes a certain artistic vision, or perhaps just some imagination, to study basic LEGO bricks and think about how they could be used to represent entire structures and sit comfortably in the build as a whole. There’s only so much you can get away with before the whole model becomes unrecognisable. I think having 1 x 2 slopes blocking the lower port and starboard decks to form pillars for the upper deck just about works. When you’re looking at the MOC from a distance you probably wouldn’t question it. It’s only when you get a closer look and start to overthink it, that you realise there is no possible way for anyone to access the lounge and bar at the front of the yacht. It’s nothing that a little bit of acceptance and imagination can’t fix though.

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Fortunately, I had the perfect windscreen pieces for the lounge and the bridge, which really pulls the whole thing together for me. The rest of the upper deck was built relatively easily with details like the search-light, antenna, and even the suggestion of some lifeboats being added at the end. When I was finished, the only modification I made was adding the gangway on the port side which is simply represented by a 1 x 6 tile attached to a 1 x 1 modified brick, allowing it to move up and down.

As I looked at the finished model something didn’t quite look right about the shape. It didn’t appear to be long enough compared its height. It then occured to me that the red hull is normally seen sitting in the water, thus reducing the overall height of what we see on screen. I therefore decided it would be best to display FAB 2 “in water” by building up blue bricks and 1 x 1 translucent blue studs around her. Using clear studs I attempted to simulate the boat’s wake, as if it were travelling at speed. As a final touch, I added my micro FAB 1 and Thunderbird 4 builds to cruise alongside, thus creating a small diorama of International Rescue’s entire ocean-going fleet setting sail for another adventure.

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If you enjoy hearing about my LEGO creations based on the worlds of Gerry Anderson, you can subscribe to the blog here or follow Security Hazard on Facebook and Twitter.

Security Hazard Live! Tune in on Monday, March 23rd

For Gerry Anderson fans who are stuck indoors and looking for a little bit of extra entertainment and chat about their favourite TV shows, I’m trying something new. With no plan or agenda, Jack Knoll (one half of the Operation Anderthon podcast, and some Thunderbirds reviews that go on a bit) will be streaming live on the Security Hazard Facebook page on Monday, March 23rd at 5:00 pm GMT for the first time.

There may well be technical hiccups along the way, but if you’re prepared to take a chance on me, you could be a witness to part of history… or at least, you can pass a bit of time listening to some twerp witter on about Thunderbirds and such like things.

Interested? Follow Security Hazard on Facebook at www.facebook.com/unofficialgerryandersonblog and standby for action!

 

Ep 23 – Season 1 Finale

It’s time for Jack and Katherine to reflect on their exciting adventure watching the first episode of every Gerry Anderson series. Standby for revelations, games, and a look into the future…

To try The AnderTag for yourself visit www.securityhazard.net/the-andertag

Visit www.securityhazard.net/subscribe to receive the latest updates from the Security Hazard blog.

Thanks to Andrew Clements, Jamie Anderson, Richard James, and all of our listeners.

Operation Anderthon will return!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unofficialgerryandersonblog/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/securityhazard/

Email: sec.hazard.pod@gmail.com

 

Ep 22 – Space Precinct

Jack and Katherine take a trip to Demeter City and watch the Space Precinct episode Double Duty to round off their journey through the Gerry Anderson universe and their mission to view the first episode of every series. But is this really the end of their Anderthon?

Watch Mark Simpson Wedge’s Gerry Anderson Panel Game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1T3q-F_tLA

Space Precinct, loosely based on the Space Police pilot from 1986, was one of the most ambitious and expensive television series ever produced when it debuted in 1994. The series was a mixture of police procedural and science fiction and followed the work and family life of Lieutenant Patrick Brogan, a New York cop who transferred to the Demeter City police force on the planet Altor. Along with his human, Creon, Tarn, and robotic colleagues, Brogan enforces the law in Demeter City tackling everything from drug-dealing to acts of terrorism. All this while getting to grips with family life on an alien planet. With complex animatronics and special effects, the series is a visual feast with a number of special guest stars making appearances throughout. But are Jack and Katherine are ready to patrol the streets of Demeter City?

Jack’s a massive Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999 etc.) fan, and Katherine isn’t. In order to bring about peace in the household, Katherine has agreed to watch the first episode of every Gerry Anderson series in existence.

Blog: https://securityhazard.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unofficialgerryandersonblog/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/securityhazard/

Email: sec.hazard.pod@gmail.com

Ep 21 – Terrahawks

Special Agent Chloe – the dog – is called in to select this week’s adventure for Jack and Katherine. Chloe chooses Terrahawks, and Katherine is left to make her judgement on Expect The Unexpected, the opening story to one of Gerry Anderson’s most bizarre television series.

Returning to the world of puppetry, Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr’s Terrahawks debuted in 1983 with a cast of bizarre characters filmed in Supermacromation, using hand puppets rather than marionettes. The Terrahawks are an elite fighting force tasked with defending the Earth from the evil alien android Zelda and her wicked family of fiendish villains. Led by Doctor Tiger Ninestein, a prickly clone with no time for nonsense, the Terrahawks use their fleet of vehicles and an army of spherical Zeroid robots to fight off attacks from Zelda and her gang of monsters. As the series progressed, the humour which formed the core of the series became wilder and more surreal. The question is, what did Jack and Katherine make of this series?

Jack’s a massive Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999 etc.) fan, and Katherine isn’t. In order to bring about peace in the household, Katherine has agreed to watch the first episode of every Gerry Anderson series in existence.

Blog: https://securityhazard.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unofficialgerryandersonblog/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/securityhazard/

Email: sec.hazard.pod@gmail.com