Sylvia Anderson (1927-2016)

Sylvia Anderson and Lady Penelope

Sylvia Anderson and Lady Penelope.

British television and film producer, writer and voice actress Sylvia Anderson passed away March 16 after a short illness. She was known for co-creating numerous television series with Gerry Anderson, her husband between 1960 and 1981. (He died in 2012.)

Many of these series, such as Thunderbirds, featured marionettes as actors. The BBC obituary explains:

They developed a production technique using electronic marionette puppets, called Supermarionation, in which the voices were recorded first, and when the puppets were filmed, the electric signal from the taped dialogue was hooked up to sensors in the puppets’ heads.

That made the puppets’ lips move perfectly in time with the soundtrack.

In 1963, the couple came up with the idea for Thunderbirds, which told the story of the Tracy family who form a secret organisation dedicated to saving human life, set in the future.

As well as co-creating and writing the series, Anderson worked on character development and costume design.

The Thunderbirds character Lady Penelope, a glamorous agent, was modelled on Anderson’s own appearance, and she also voiced the character.

She returned to voice Lady Penelope in a 1994 episode of the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. And when a new Thunderbirds Are Go series was produced in 2015, she was cast as the voice of Lady Penelope’s elderly Great Aunt Sylvia.

Sylvia leaves a daughter, Dee Anderson, and a son, Gerry Anderson, Jr.

7 thoughts on “Sylvia Anderson (1927-2016)

  1. Pingback: Dr. Venus of the World Space Patrol Has Died - Amazing Stories

  2. I’m sorry to hear that, but those marionettes always creeped me out. And I like puppets!

    Glad it was a short illness and she worked till the end.

  3. Lady P was wonderful, but there was so much more to Sylvia Anderson’s work than Thunderbirds – not to put down Thunderbirds, of course! But Captain Scarlet (my favourite of the supermarionation era), Joe 90, Fireball XL5, UFO, Space: 1999 (year one) – she was the character person. She made the Tracy family, she made the worlds work.

    And if you want to see the difference with and without her, just look at Space: 1999 year one (with) and year two (without). Don’t get me wrong, Gerry was great too, but without her… yeah.

    I temporarily turned my Tumblr blog into a Sylvia Anderson fan blog. It’s tagged so all in one place. And I have my own thoughts as well, of course.

    I’m looking forward to finally getting the Thunderbirds 1965 discs. All three episodes have a lot of Lady Penelope focus – particularly the last one, 2×03 (as I think of it 😀 ), “The Stately Home Robberies.” Can’t wait.

Comments are closed.