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Death of Anderson

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2012-12-26

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson

TV producer Gerry Anderson, who created such classic hits as Thunderbirds, Joe 90, UFO and Stingray, has died aged 83.  

Anderson, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, passed away in his sleep on Wednesday afternoon, according to his son Jamie.  

He had previously spoken out about his battle against the disease, although his family confirmed his condition had deteriorated considerably in recent months.  

He was born Gerry Abrahams in Bloomsbury, London, in 1929, younger son of Deborah and Joseph Abrahams.

However his Jewish background was mixed, with his father's Jewish eastern European roots and mother's Cornish/Jewish roots.  

Although his ancestral name from his East European grandfather was Bieloglovski, this was changed to Abrahams by a British immigration officer when he arrived in this country in 1895.  

However the family name was later changed to Anderson by deed poll in a bid to avoid anti-Semitism - something which Anderson experienced after being evacuated to the country during World War II.  

Anderson began his career as a photographer and also worked in air traffic control before setting up his own production company, AP Films, with business partner Arthur Provis.  

He soon developed a knack for developing puppet-based shows and children's programmes in the 1950s with his debut puppet show Twizzle, and children's fantasy series Four Feather Falls.  

However Anderson's company was soon bought out by TV mogul Lord Lew Grade and subsequently it was the 60s that gave him his greatest success - with his most famous show, Thunderbirds.  

The show, originally inspired by a mining disaster in West Germany in 1963, spawning the idea of a show about a rescue service - focused on the Tracy family and their top secret organisation International Rescue, with its fleet of special rockets.   As well as the Tracy Brothers it became famous for its additional characters including scientists Brains and the aristocratic Lady Penelope - eventually voiced by Anderson's wife Sylvia after Fenella Fielding had been considered for the role.

Although only 32 episodes were ever made the show's enduring appeal led to re-runs on TV throughout the 70s and 80s, as well as a live-action film version being made in 2004.  

Anderson's other small screen hits included UFO, Stingray, Space 1999, Fireball XL and Captain Scarlet, with his later efforts including 80s hit Terrahawks.  

He was married three times, to Betty Wrightman, Sylvia Anderson and his last wife Mary Robins, whom he wed in 1981.   Anderson is also survived by his four children, daughters Joy and Linda and sons Jamie and Gerry Jr.