Thunderbirds – 5. The Uninvited

Directed by Desmond Saunders

Teleplay by Alan Fennell

First Broadcast – 2nd December 1965

If you like sand, this is the Thunderbirds episode for you. There’s tons of it.

Wait is that Thunderbird 1 exploding? Wow… stand by for an exciting episode!

The episode opens with Scott returning from a fire in Tokyo. Because it’s just Scott there’s nothing terribly useful he can do so he just decides to leave them to it. Scott is given orders to take Alan up to Thunderbird 5 for his spell of duty… Tin-Tin’s packing his bag now. Why can’t Alan pack his own bag? Maybe Tin-Tin just likes going through his stuff.


Scott starts humming to himself. That’s how you know things are just a little too quiet.

Well this is different! Three mysterious jet planes are opening fire on Thunderbird 1. You can just about see the hole cut in the cockpit canopy to allow for the puppet strings. The voice cast do a fantastic job in this episode speaking the bizarre language of the Zombites. They’re never actually called ‘Zombites’ on screen but apparently that’s what they were called in the original script.

Scott dramatically alters course with a sharp tug of the controls.


I love shots like this that really show off Thunderbird 1’s speed and manoeuvrability. As most flying shots just show the craft hanging in front of a rolling sky backdrop, it’s great to get some more exciting flight like this.


The second fighter opens fire and tags Thunderbird 1 right in the tail section. The ship is consumed in a blinding fireball. Now this escalated quickly!

Scott is sent into a crash-dive. All Jeff can do is encourage Scott to pull the nose up. Of course, the continuity is all over the shop, but who cares, Thunderbird 1 is CRASHING!

WALLOP! The effects guys really did love crashing stuff. This sequence is amazing and perfectly matched with some dramatic sound effects.


If you look really closely at the bottom right corner of the frame you can just about see a floor puppeteer’s hand throwing Scott out of his seat.

The crash keeps on going as Thunderbird 1 slides through the sand before stopping dead as the nose cone plunges into a sand dune. A huge cloud of dust explodes. There’s a moment of utter silence where the viewer is left wondering how Scott could have possibly survived that.


The music strikes up to reveal the episode title. Wow. What a great opening. It’s worth mentioning at this point that this is the sub-plot used to extend the episode which was originally shot as a half-hour.


Blood! As much as it’s a bit graphic for a “children’s show”, for Scott to go through all that with just a cut on his forehead is playing it pretty safe really. With Scott knocked out and radio contact lost, the team back at base are naturally anxious…


WAIT A SECOND! WE ALL KNOW WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SEEING HERE! Anyone who knows anything about Thunderbirds bloopers knows that a technician with grubby finger nails is meant to clearly be seen lifting Tin-Tin out of her seat. It looks like that with some careful cropping, this release of the series has attempted to remove the error. I’m able to forgive the little edits they’ve made to repair film damage, but little (or even big) bloopers like this are a part of Thunderbirds. So here’s what you’re supposed to be seeing in a shot taken from the DVD:


There we go. Much better.


Even though Jeff just has his neutral expression head on, the way the puppet is being filmed clearly demonstrates his concern and worry. It’s amazing how expressive the puppets are able to be just by the way they’re filmed.


Scott wakes up and attempts to use the radio. Without sounding too weird, that is a lovely wound that’s been painted on his forehead.


The control panel used to represent Thunderbird 1’s dead radio is seen in the Martian Probe Rocket in Day of Disaster.

Scott opens up Thunderbird 1’s hatch and looks outside. You can just about see where the puppet wires are poking out the edge of the hatch before it opens and presumably a floor puppeteer lifts Scott into frame. This looks like the same piece of set used to show Scott entering Thunderbird 1 for launch. Scott figures that he’s 5000 miles from base. If Tracy Island is located in the South Pacific, and Scott’s crashed in the Sahara, his prediction is a few thousand miles short. And while we’re on that point, if he was flying home from Tokyo, why on Earth is he any where near the Sahara desert? Surely it would be quicker to just fly straight to the South Pacific?


I guess he’s just getting delerious in the desert heat… so he passes out dramatically leaning out of the side of Thunderbird 1.

Poor Tin-Tin is inconsolable, but luckily Gordon is hard at work trying to figure out Scott’s position. This is the first time in the series that Gordon is actually seen to be doing something aside from chipping in the odd suggestion or comment.


Virgil is quickly dispatched in Thunderbird 2. Brains is halfway through getting undressed (for some reason) when he jumps to attention and announces that he’s selected the necessary pod. This is presumably a pod full of maintenance equipment which unfortunately we never get to see.


This week it’s Pod 6. I’m not sure if I’ve ever pointed this out, but Thunderbird 2’s feet are wonky during this stock shot.


The stress of the situation has kicked off Tin-Tin’s smoking habit. Jeff initially refuses to let her go out to the crash area in case there’s another attack. But she insists on helping Scott, so Jeff just gives up all his concern and lets her go.


Much happier, Tin-Tin has changed into her International Rescue uniform. At least we can assume this is her uniform, we never actually see her wearing it ever again after this episode. Brains is looking very swish in his desert gear complete with his snazzy hat.

Here’s an odd moment. Alan, Jeff, and Gordon are discussing what could have happened when Jeff suddenly looks up at Scott’s portrait, assuming he’s heard a signal. With very little dialogue, the puppets are somehow able to convey the emotions of the moment. Jeff’s hope, followed by concern and disappointment are mostly expressed through the puppets eye movements and the way the camera is angled.

Alan and Gordon exchange silent looks of slight worry for their father.

A truck is seen driving through the desert, close to the Thunderbird 1 crash site. This same truck makes multiple appearances in Thunderbirds. In The Mighty Atom it’s driven by The Hood, and a repainted version is driven by Brains and Tin-Tin in Desperate Intruder. The tracks were then replaced with wheels as seen in the additional scenes for Martian Invasion, as well as Cry Wolf, Atlantic Inferno, Path of Destruction, and later, Thunderbird 6 and Joe 90.

In the truck are archaeologists Lindsey and Wilson. Lindsey is another of the few minor characters to have a blinker head throughout. He is a slightly modified version of Joe Carter from City of Fire. Wilson is noteworthy for having the most substantial beard of any Thunderbirds character.

In between Lindsey and Wilson driving down the dune delivering expository dialogue, and just before they discover Thunderbird 1, a lot suddenly changes. Lindsey, Wilson, and the truck itself, are a lot less sandy. In the door next to Lindsey some maps and charts have appeared. The incline at which they are driving also changes very dramatically. The steering wheel is also raised a little bit. All this points to two things. 1) That the the front windscreen on the puppet sized jeep had to be removed for camera access. 2) That initial shots of Lindsey and Wilson driving down the slope are most likely from the original half hour version of the episode, while the shots of them looking remarkably cleaner before discovering Thunderbird 1 were filmed later.

The shots that reveal the crashed Thunderbird 1 are rather nicely done as the camera creeps along from the explorers’ point of view.

This is going to sound weird, but Thunderbird 1 looks really good when it’s crashed, burnt and covered in sand. These shots of the jeep driving around the craft give us a rare opportunity to see Thunderbird 1 from a couple of different angles and give us a sense of its size.

Scott wakes up just as Lindsey and Wilson arrive. I love that the time was taken to paint some more blood on Scott’s face to give the impression that the wound is actually bleeding. A little exposition is given from Lindsey and Wilson to explain what they’re doing in the desert, searching for the Lost Pyramid of Khamandides. One imagines that similar pieces of dialogue must have been a part of different scenes in the original half hour version of the episode, but were cut and replaced with this. It’s interesting to think about not only what material was added to the original edits, but also what had to be removed to avoid repetition. Anyway, Scott instructs the two explorers to contact International Rescue to let them know how he is. He rather cheekily tells them any radio frequency will work, which is something members of International Rescue love showing off about throughout the series.

John gives Virgil and crew the position and Tin-Tin quickly spots the crash area. We’re treated to this rather lovely aerial shot of Thunderbird 1 and the jeep, complete with tracks through the sand. I could ruin it by saying that based on the shots we saw earlier, the jeep tracks should be coming straight along the port side of Thunderbird 1, but I would never be that petty…


While Brains’ hat does look very snazzy, the hole in the front made for the puppet wires is rather obvious.

The enormous Thunderbird 2 makes its descent. Notice how much sand has now blown off the top of Thunderbird 1…

Blimey, that was a smokey landing. You can see where Thunderbird 2’s thrusts have scorched the sand and the craft itself looks a little toasted too.


John and his father discuss the continuing mystery of Thunderbird 1’s crash and who may have been responsible. Jeff also informs us that Brains has fixed the radio which got smashed. We don’t actually hear about any other damage to Thunderbird 1 aside from that. With the amount of bangs and wallops the ship went down with, I’m rather surprised by that. John’s line, “I guess he doesn’t have to do his spell of satellite relief until he’s fit father,” is rather curious. The suggestion is that Scott’s due to relieve John in Thunderbird 5. But earlier we were told that Scott needed to take Alan up there for his spell of duty. So maybe that’s what John is referring to. Or maybe he’s just losing it a bit. I very much doubt Scott would be sentenced… I mean transferred, to a month of duty on Thunderbird 5, what with all the fuss that’s made in Atlantic Inferno about someone else flying Thunderbird 1, not to mention the idea is never seen or discussed again.


For some bizarre reason the International Rescue team have decided to do some camping when they could just go home, or at least sleep in Thunderbird 2 which is probably much more comfortable. It’s a cute little shot though with even a few tiny puffs of smoke emitting from the teeny tiny camp fire.

In the puppet shots, the fire is rather more large and threatening. Scott’s eaten an entire apple pie because he’s hurt and can do whatever he likes. Props to the prop department for providing all the miniature pieces of camping equipment.


While discussing the apparent randomness of the attack, Wilson suddenly pipes up like a ranting drunk at a bar with, “It’s this desert I tell ya,” as if he might suggest that the sand just sucked Thunderbird 1 down.

Lindsey joins in with his blinker head making him look absolutely smashed. They start to discuss the Lost Pyramid of Khamandides but Tin-Tin cuts them off before they get too into it.

The next scene is a bit odd. The team have gone to bed and we’re shown some shots of them sleeping set to some creepy music. Apart from showing us that they are indeed sleeping, I’m not quite sure why this is in here. I think the creepy music is supposed to imply that something might happen to them during the night after all the concerns that there’s some mysterious force at work in the desert. But nothing happens. It’s just a bit of tension that’s raised for no particular reason.


After the commercial break we’re back on Tracy Island. We don’t learn how Thunderbird 1 returned to base. We’re only told that the radio was damaged so I guess it took off under its own steam with no issues at all. Scott’s being spoiled with food again while wearing a hideous yellow tracksuit. This scene marks the first appearance of Grandma on screen. She was mentioned last time in Sun Probe. In that article we discussed the fact that all her appearances up until Move – And You’re Dead are in added scenes, including this one. She’s a lovely character charmingly voiced by Christine Finn, with a highly caricatured face that we don’t quite get to see yet.

After Lindsey and Wilson finish discussing how nice it was to have Thunderbird 1 crash on their doorstep, they revert back to their grubbier selves, and the jeep regains its windscreen. We’re back into footage of them that was originally shot for what would have presumably been the beginning of the episode originally.

So because Wilson still hasn’t gotten over his hatred of all things desert-related, he drives incredibly dangerously over some sand dunes which causes the trailer to break away and roll down the hill, at first flipping on to its back but then mysteriously getting back on its wheels.

The trailer peacefully comes to a stop at the bottom of the hill. Wilson mentions that there might just be some gasoline in there, so of course…


It has to explode. It’s Thunderbirds. If anything can explode, it does.


The two explorers can only look on…


As the trailer just keeps on exploding. Just to rub salt in the wounds.


Notice on the side of the door the unpainted wood. It makes for a nice bit of weathered realism, although it does expose the fact that the jeep is just made of wood.


Lindsey and Wilson spot that their radio has been thrown from the blast. We get to see something resembling a decent puppet walk from Wilson as he goes down ot retrieve it.


Wilson attempts to contact base camp Salar. If you look really closely you can spot a lego-like brick stuck on the right hand side of the radio. Unfortunately, the radio appears to be broken, leaving them stranded without food, water, gasoline, or help. Incidentally, the word ‘salar’ means ‘salt flat’ in Spanish.


Meanwhile, the Tracy family are relaxing at home. Tin-Tin and Gordon are in the pool. Tin-Tin’s swimming cap looks as fetching as ever. Gordon’s bobbing around in there quite happily. We get a quick peak at the diving board which is a completely different design to what we normally see in the Thunderbird 1 launch sequence.


Virgil is so utterly chilled in his all-white outfit and shades. He has his racket ready for what promises to be an exciting tennis match between him and Jeff. Notice the porch swing in the background appears to have speaker grilles in the arms.


Scott and Alan are preparing to head up to Thunderbird 5 so Alan can relieve John. Notice that Scott has his smiler head on.


Jeff is at his desk with a slightly different face to what we’ve seen previously in the episode. The shot quickly cuts to Alan and then back to Jeff…


But Jeff’s face has suddenly changed back to what we’ve seen previously in the episode. Multiple versions of each main character were required so episodes could be shot simultaneously. Christine Glanville’s unit would have one set of puppets, Mary Turner’s unit would have the other. As the puppet heads are crafted by hand no two are absolutely identical, and it’s generally pretty easy to spot which version is in use in a particular episode. But when the version of the puppet suddenly changes in the middle of the show or the middle of a scene, it suggests that certain shots were done at different times, maybe by different units. I hope to do an article soon highlighting the different versions of each Thunderbirds puppet used during the series. Let’s finish the scene and then we’ll tackle what this puppet swap could indicate. So Jeff has just asked whether Scott is feeling up to making the trip.


Scott responds that he’s feeling ‘A1.’ Notice that Scott is no longer smiling and that there’s a very slight cut still on his forehead.


Scott is then back to smiling as the couch descends into the floor. Now it’s pretty clear that the discussion about Scott’s health was filmed later to account for the added sub-plot, but the question is whether the whole sequence of Scott and Alan flying up to Thunderbird 5 was originally part of the episode. It doesn’t contribute too much to the plot, but the puppets that are used and the way the discontinuity is in this scene suggests that it was actually originally filmed for the half hour version of the story. This could mean that the one shot of Jeff sat at the desk with a different face is the only shot of him from the original version of the episode to make it into the final cut, and everything else is added on and was filmed with a different puppet.


What must have been something of a pain for the special effects team and editors was the fact that unlike with Thunderbirds 1 and 2, the characters are quite clearly visible as they’re transported to Thunderbird 3 for launch. This means that another version of the launch sequence, using different mini figures to the ones seen in Sun Probe had to be filmed for The Uninvited.  It also had to be reshot again for Danger At Ocean Deep when Brains comes along. With all the continuity errors that are allowed to let slide in Thunderbirds, I’m just amazed that the special effects team went to the effort of shooting the same sequence at least three times in the TV series just to swap out some little plasticine figures.

Sadly this strive for continuity doesn’t last for long as Alan mysteriously changes into the outfit he wore during Sun Probe when using Thunderbird 3’s elevator. That’s because footage was re-used from that episode for some reason.


Off goes Thunderbird 3!

With their trailer still burning away, Wilson and Lindsey continue to try using the radio. In the close up shot, Wilson’s whacky headphones suddenly disappear. Anyway, they decide to use up their gasoline to reach a water hole. Good plan.


The calls from Lindsey reach Thunderbird 5, but never mind that for the moment. Thunderbird 3 is seen docking with Thunderbird 5 for the first time. It’s mainly exciting because this sequence is the only opportunity we get to see the space station in any other shot beyond the opening countdown, and the same stock shot looking straight at it which is used throughout the series.


Eek, a closeup of Thunderbird 5. That never happens.


Alan goes to leave Thunderbird 3 and says goodbye to Scott…


Whose wound has completely healed somehow. Again, this suggests that the sequence of docking with Thunderbird 5 was in the original episode before Scott was injured.


I really like it when other people come to visit Thunderbird 5. You can just imagine John giving the place an extra special clean hours before any visitors come aboard.

John leaves Thunderbird 5 through the ‘Auto-Exit’, leaving Alan listening to the distress calls coming from the Sahara.

Lindsey is still trying to get the radio to work when they spot the water hole in the distance. This causes his headphones to suddenly disappear too.


They arrive at the oasis but all the water has dried up.

Here’s Wilson before and after they arrive at the oasis. Notice how much less sandy his hair and beard suddenly are.


The decision is made by Wilson to contact International Rescue. He puts on the headphones which are clearly put together at the top using a couple of lego-like bricks.

Alan, now with his silly hat removed, picks up the call but they are unable to communicate.

Thunderbird 3 is shown coming into land back at base. You can just about see the wire at the top of the nose cone that the model is being dangled by.


As this shot fades to black and Thunderbird 3 descends through the round house, smoke actually starts to enter shot from the right of the frame. Smoke must have started pouring out from underneath the sides of the table-top set and crept up into shot.


After the commerical break, Virgil is reading a copy of the same November issue of Kine magazine that Jeff was reading in City of Fire. Neither of them express any other signs of being intersted in photography during the series.


Alan plays back the distress calls from the Sahara so that they can confirm whether it’s Lindsey and Wilson. Naturally this is another added scene becase in the original version of the episode Virgil wouldn’t have met them yet.


Scott arrives home and two things are amiss:
1) He’s wearing a different outfit to the one he left in. This conveniently matches the outfit he wears in the stock footage of Thunderbird 1 launching.
2) Where’s John? We saw him leave Thunderbird 5 but for whatever reason he never made it home. Poor guy.

Anyway, Scott immediately jumps off the couch and launches Thunderbird 1.


After the launch Tin-Tin comments, “There he goes.” Now I don’t mean to be coarse, but if you look at Tin-Tin’s left leg, you can just about spot a hinge in her leg at the knee… if you’re into that type of thing.

Wilson has given up on using the radio and Lindsey is growing more desperate for water. But then, in the distance they spot a pyramid and decide to use all their remaining fuel to reach it.


Wilsons’ face goes back to being absolutely filthy as they make the drive over.

They soon arrive at the pyramid and through some rather clunky exposition we learn that Lindsey can read the hieroglyphics up on the wall. By the way, in case you were wondering, yes the word Khamandides is completely made up.


Just as they start checking for a door, one secret entrance starts to open up.

Wilson and Lindsey begin to explore. The set is decorated with some great Ancient Egyptian statues and artwork. The door suddenly closes.

Lindsey asks Wilson to put on his lighter. Something tells me that when the scene was written the room was supposed to be plunged into near darkness when the door closed because Lindsey and Wilson stumble across a skeleton which they should have been able to see without any additional light. The skeleton itself is a nice piece, and remarkably it almost matches the proportions of the Thunderbirds puppets.

Meanwhile, Scott arrives in the desert with Thunderbird 1. He’s got his silly hat on to protect his head in case Thunderbird 1 decides to crash again. It looks rather odd to see the TB1 model cruising around at low altitude with its thruster on full blast. Notice the rather long nozzle on the belly of the model acting as the thruster.

Lindsey and Wilson hear the sound of water trickling. This sequence is cut together in such a clever way that although the duo are supposed to be exploring the temple, we never see them walking. They reach the eternal fountain spouting some very blue water. For an eternal fountain, it doesn’t actually look particularly ornate.


After the commercial break we see a stock shot of Thunderbird 1 flying from left to right which I believe comes from Terror In New York City.


This is followed by a shot which very definitely comes from Terror In New York City of an angry, hat-less Scott looking through the hatch.


This aerial shot approaching the pyramid is rather nice.


And Scott’s back to being happy and… hatty.

The camera pans over from the jeep to Thunderbird 1 coming into land. If we’re to believe the sense of scale between these two models, Thunderbird 1 lands miles away.

Thanks to the wonders of high definition, we can now clearly see the water that Lindsey and Wilson have dribbled on their chins.


There’s something about Scott in particular wearing his International Rescue hat that reminds me of something… I went googling and found this:


Yeah. That’s it.


Scott happily trots inside the pyramid. He does seem unusually chirpy about the entire situation.

Despite the door closing behind him, Scott just keeps smiling away. He quickly finds the two explorers among some Ancient Egyptian treasure. With some quick re-dubbing, the scene has been made to look like their second meeting, rather than their first.


Lindsey’s lust for treasure suddenly causes him to totally flip and pull a gun on Scott.

BANG! Another moment when I’m sure the puppeteers were terrified one of their creations would lose a limb courtesy of the special effects team. The puppeteers must have had to prepare themselves quite a bit not to jump and move the puppet too suddenly whenever a loud bang went off on set.


Lindsey opens fire on Wilson who falls to the ground, and Scott takes cover behind a statue. Notice the scorch marks on the wall from the flaming torches.

A gunfight ensues between Scott and Lindsey. I know people have mixed opinions about International Rescue using weapons, and this is the first time Scott or any IR member pulls out their sidearm. Aside from the ethical issues which we don’t have time to get into here, the simple fact is that it was extremely difficult for the puppets to be shown realistically defending themselves against violence in any other way beyond using guns. They couldn’t get into a fist fight or tackle down any assailants because of their limited movement, so guns were about the only way that fighting action could be conveyed on screen. And I have to say that this sequence is done extremely well, both in terms of action, and in terms of not being too violent.  We’re shown that the weapons can do some damage, courtesy of some great bangs, but when people get shot it’s as simple as them falling over and getting knocked out, but not dying there and then.


Lindsey is an incredibly good shot. First he knocked out Scott’s radio, then he manages to fire the gun out of Scott’s hand without taking off any fingers. The action moves so fast in this scene that you can’t question the probability of what happens, it’s all just really exciting and really tense and you get the sense of just how dangerous Lindsey is.


Scott runs for cover behind different statues and eventually gets cornered. Lindsey fires at the ankle of the statue to knock it down – an absolutely nail-biting moment.

Lindsey cackles away manically. Matt Zimmerman has to be praised for embracing the insanity of the character and no doubt having a lot of fun with it. The statue tumbles leaving Scott completely exposed.


The camera focusses in on Lindsey turning Scott’s own weapon against him. The tension is built right up. There’s no way for Scott to get out of this one. This would be a great point for a cliffhanger ending.


Somehow the tension is raised even further when Barry Gray’s bombastic incidental music from Stingray announces the arrival of the pyramid’s inhabitants.

Without a moment of hesitation they shoot Lindsey and knock him out. Surely his arm would have been broken if it twisted behind him like that.

Scott spots the Zombite markings on their heads, which is given even greater significance thanks to the episode’s sub-plot. Their intentions are now even more questionable. After shooting Scott down, now they’ve just managed to save his life, but by shooting another person. The viewers are left feeling just as cautious and intrigued about the Zombites as Scott is.

Wilson comes out from his hiding place. I think the implication is supposed to be that Scott thought he was dead. Despite Lindsey’s actions, the hand of friendship is extended, and with no other option, Scott and Wilson are taken by the two Zombites.

Following Jeff’s previous order to Scott over the radio that Thunderbird 2 would be dispatched if he lost contact, Virgil and Gordon are now on their way to the Sahara. Rather oddly Virgil gives an estimated travel time of “1.4 hours”. I don’t know about you, but I find it a little tricky to work out in my head what point 4 of an hour is.

In the tiniest, cutest little monorail car, Scott, Wilson, and an unconcious but comfortable Lindsey are taken through the secret industrial chambers of the pyramid. Notice that the top of the monorail’s control cabin has no roof so allow for the puppet wires.

As Wilson and Scott look down at the power plant we’re treated to some classic examples of random households items and kit parts being thrown together to create an impressive looking model set that looks extremely important and technical. It’s also worth pointing out that the “joker in the gas mask” is the twin brother of the Zombite holding Scott and Wilson at gunpoint. In fact they’re triplets, as the same puppet was also the Zombite Flight Leader at the beginning of the episode. Needless to say Scott’s reference to the fighters that shot him down the other day was added later.


Here is the leader of the Zombites. What an evil looking ne’er-do-well. I think it’s fair to say that Ming the Merciless was probably a big influence in the design of this character. David Graham tackles the gibberish dialogue with fantastic flair and a thoroughly nasty tone.


The guy even has a cape. The puppet-sized monorail car is an impressive piece of set in the background. Both the miniature and the set have a nice big hole in the top for the puppet wires.


The Zombite language is so wonderful and I wish there was a definite translation of what they were saying. When the leader points here and yells something along the lines of “Min nela ni,” he’s probably saying something like “Turn on the screen,” but I’d prefer to think it’s something like…



Thunderbird 2 is shown on the screen. At which point, if you haven’t spotted it already, you’ll probably notice that every single one of the Zombite emblems on the pillars is reversed. It’s a bizarre mistake, but the fact it appears on every single pillar makes one assume that the person painting them on thought they were doing it right.


The Zombite Leader orders for missiles to be launched at Thunderbird 2. I’m guessing the writer had in mind that a hatch opening in the side of the pyramid would look a bit more impressive than a piece of it opening up on what is clearly a door hinge. And if you were under any delusion that pyramids were made of stone bricks, think again, because this one is clearly made of chipboard.

A little Zombite language lesson for you. The word for ‘up’ or ‘higher’ is apparently “Umpa” and the word for ‘stop’ is something that sounds like “Goba!”

Suddenly Wilson and Scott attack. We get to see one of the few punches pulled in Supermarionation and Scott opens fire on anything that moves including a control panel.

The missiles accidentally fire after Scott shoots at the control panel. They just about miss Thunderbird 2 which wobbles quite a bit as it flies through shot.


Gordon is incredibly smart and picks up on the fact that the missiles probably weren’t set off deliberately and works out that Scott must have had something to do with it, which is a fair assumption although it does make it sound rather like Scott fires missiles at people to warn them about stuff more often than he should.

Quite the gunfight breaks out as Scott and Wilson make their escape. An alarm is sounded – the same one that you see in various locations throughout the series including London Airport. I must say that even as a kid, I never bought the fact that it was a siren as it just looks a bit too much like a collander.

That ‘joker in the gas mask’ attempts to fire at the monorail car with no regard for safety whatsoever… although I suppose safety is generally the opposite of what you think about when starting a shoot out. Scott fires back in retaliation and knocks the guy over who rather unluckily falls on to the lever which releases the dangerous and explosive gas. The shot of the gas pouring out may be one of the few effects in Thunderbirds that is sped up rather than slowed down.

This triggers a terrific chain reaction of non-stop explosions that just keep on coming.


Confused by the lack of activity outside the pyramid, Virgil and Gordon decide it’s time to take action.


Meanwhile, the Zombite Leader is given a melodramatic death scene as he suffocates on the fumes, cursing the name of the Thunderbirds. Bravo for a great performance.


Lindsey wakes up just in time, looking incredibly hungover.

The Controller passes out and he rather conveniently falls on to the button which opens the pyramid entrace. Maybe it was a last ditch effort to allow any surviving Zombites to escape, or maybe it was just lucky for our heroes.


Without the camera revealing too much, Scott, Wilson, and Lindsey run through the pyramid to reach the exit.

Thunderbird 2 slowly makes its approach as Scott and the explorers make it through the exit. We don’t normally get to see the puppets passing under thresholds because their strings would be in the way, but because of the angle of the entrance, we do actually get to see them do it here.

Scott gives the order for Thunderbird 2 to pull out, essentially making Gordon and Virgil’s trip all the way out to the Sahara a bit pointless. In a way it’s disappointing, but this episode is also a rare opportunity for Scott to handle a situation solo when he’s normally at Mobile Control giving instructions to his brothers who get to do all the cool stuff.


We’re given one last shot of the Zombite Leader, melodramatic even in death.


Thunderbird 1 takes off, now parked considerably closer to the pyramid than when it landed and very out of proportion to the truck which was shown to be tiny in comparison to the crashed Thunderbird 1 we saw earlier.

Unfortunatley, the gas mask guy wakes up at just the wrong moment…

BANG! First the side of the pyramid is blown away to ensure that Lindsey and Wilson’s jeep gets completely barbequed.


Scott gets the lovely final line, “The Lost Pyramid of Khamandides is lost forever now.” Who knew that a massive explosion and the death of an entire hidden civilisation could make you feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

And to finish the episode off in style, we’re treated to a fantastic explosion. Quite a spectacle! With Lindsey and Wilson safe one tends to forget about all those dead Zombites that Scott slaughtered (albeit accidentally). When you think of it that way this ending is a little bit spoiled. So don’t think about it, just watch the amazing fireworks show.

The Uninvited has some superb action sequences, and of course the crash of Thunderbird 1 is an important moment in the series. The gunfights and the destruction of the pyramid are also extremely good sequences. The Zombites themselves are a little one-dimensional but still a classic group of villains, and probably one of the most bizarre and fantastical aspects of the series.

Its great that Scott and Thunderbird 1 get the spotlight in this episode, showing the character at his most vulnerable and resourceful. Once again we have another demonstration of a good sub-plot which focusses on the main characters and develops them further, rather than extending the story for no particular reason.

We’ve now reached the end of Disc 1 of the Shout Factory boxset and I should take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been enjoying these reviews/commentaries so far. The positive comments I receive are a real treat. I have great fun looking at these Thunderbirds episodes in close detail and learning new things about the way they were put together. Some may question why I pull apart and criticise a show I claim to love, but its because I continue to be fascinated with the way the series was made and how the writers and production team handled the difficult task of extending the episodes that were originally filmed as half-hour stories. I love learning new things about the series through doing this and am so glad that I’m helping people to look at and appreciate Thunderbirds in a whole new way.

Next week, we travel to Australia and then back to the Sahara desert again with The Mighty Atom, which sees the return of The Hood and Lady Penelope!

11 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 5. The Uninvited

  1. I’m loving these reviews! Also, something I noticed years ago is that when Gordon is reading the map, he is holding the pencil in his left hand – now whenever I see it I always wonder if he is actually supposed to be left-handed or if they just happened to put it in that hand…


  2. The Zombite leader buys his flooring from the same company that fitted the floor in the Hood’s temple. They must be an international flooring company, specialising in evil lairs. The colander siren is pretty accurate – search google images for ‘circular air raid siren’, they do tend to look just like collanders.


  3. My favourite episode of the show. What makes it memorable are TB1 being shot down at the start, the Zombites and the epic finale with the gun battle and pyramid explosion.
    The Zombites are mysterious and it makes you ask who were they. The Fleetway comic did a story called Return of the Zombites published in issues #61-63 set a month after the episode where they team up with the Hood to get revenge on International Rescue. Is there anyway I can read this story? If not, can someone post a full synopsis? I’d be very grateful. Ta.


  4. As an infant I only had one precious episode of thunderbirds. It was a VHS copy of The Uninvited. The episode is probably the oldest memory of tv/film I have. What a wonderful dissection of it! Thank you for your excellent work, so entertaining, and you have a great way of poking fun at goofs and silly things while conveying a deep love for the show.


  5. Just a thought regarding the flipped Zombite insignia. The Zombites are apparently supposed to be descended from ancient Egyptians, and the Egyptian hieroglyphic language could be written either left-to-right or right-to-left, with the characters flipped laterally to indicated which direction to read it in. Perhaps the Zombites’ modern alphabet is similarly reversible and therefore their insignia (which, for the purposes of the story, we must assume isn’t based on the letter ‘Z’ but on the equivalent Zombite character which just coincidentally happens to look similar to it’s Latin counterpart) is as well.


  6. en verdad yo también me divierto de cuando veo estos episodios es mi serie favorita desde los 6 meses de edad hasta ahora que tengo 27 años y tengo la serie completa en inglés y en español, me pregunto de que nunca dicen pero son idénticos el lider de los Zombites en este episodio es el mismo títere que en la temporada 2 interpretó al SR Faccini en ”Las Vacaciones de Lord Parker” o son distintos? es que se parecen en el bigote


  7. I’ve always been a fan of The Uninvited, with its dramatic opening and unusual premise. On reflection a while ago I realised that the episode is in fact the last vestige of the archetypal Stingray plot type I dubbed ‘the two man invasion’.

    Basically its what it says on the tin, the crew of Stingray would explore some hidden underwater base, in which a pair of sinister fish people were plotting to take over the surface. There’d usually only ever be two aggressors present, probably due to the budget of making more unusual puppets. The only time you get bigger casts are ones featuring Titan and his fish soldiers.

    Anyway, The Uninvited manages to cannily update the format in several ways. Firstly there’s the attack on Thunderbird 1 in the opening, creating a sense of higher stakes than in any of the Stingray examples. There’s also a greater scale to the Zombites’ pyramid lair, they get at least 3 puppets! Add to that a sense of mystery to the Zombites as a whole. They don’t speak English, so we never find out any backstory, leaving it all delightfully ambiguous.

    I reckon why it’s such a successful update of the Stingray formula is partly down to the extender material used to fill out the 50 minute runtime, which gave an unexpected dept to the central plot. As it stands, The Uninvited is both the last story to really fit the ‘two man invasion’ style, while also making for a very unique episode of Thunderbirds that has a structure that was never really repeated.


    1. Spot on with this! It never occurred to me while I was younger but has become more obvious in later viewings of Stingray how many episodes were based around that “two-man invasion” template. I don’t think we ever really learned why any of them had it in for us surface-dwellers, perhaps where Stingray would have benefitted from the extended runtime of Thunderbirds episodes.
      I’d never connected that this was very similar in style to those Stingray episodes. With that I love that they even included the incidental music from Stingray, which was always one of my favourite pieces outside of the theme tunes.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When I was little I loved the drama and tension as I do now. My adult fan self thinks they could have done a better job. I do get a chuckle out of the reviews though. Maybe Scott crossed the Sahara as a diversion to somewhere else? Maybe he was going to meet someone? I mean these are young dudes and there is only one Lady P and one Tin-Tin so the others must socialize somehow. Jeff should have asked at some point why his son was crossing the Sahara. That crash should have left Scott more injured that he was, I mean the thing went boom a couple times and it was a hard landing, plus his chin hit the control levers. Kiddos back in the day could handle blood on TV. We were tough. Jeff needs to lighten up on Scott, how many trips does he have to do in a day fly from Japan, fly to space. Couldn’t Gordon be the co-astro-guy. I mean Alan piloted and John most likely did back to base. Jeff is the hardest on poor, no social life Scott.Way to burden your eldest all the time.


    1. You could be on to something there, perhaps that was why Scott was humming away to himself before the attack. That was his “I’m about to get me some…” tune, before he was rudely interrupted by fighter jets!


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