He was Britain's master of puppets, the creator of much-loved television shows including Thunderbirds and Stingray, whose groundbreaking use of marionettes was a source of wonder to generations of children.
Gerry Anderson, whose science fiction programmes won him legions of fans all over the world, died yesterday aged 83. His son Jamie said he passed away at a care home at midday. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's.
“I think a light has gone out in the universe,” actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on shows including The Day After Tomorrow and Space: 1999, told the BBC. “He had a great sense of humour. He wasn't childish but child-like and he had a tremendous love of the universe and astronomy and scientists.”
Broadcaster Jonathan Ross also paid tribute, writing: “For men of my age his work made childhood an incredible place to be.”
London-born Anderson became a household name in Britain after the success of Thunderbirds, which brought the puppets of Jeff Tracy, Brains and Lady Penelope into the nation's living rooms and popularised the catchphrases “Thunderbirds are go!” and “FAB”.
Every time Thunderbirds was repeated, Anderson would receive sacks of mail, his son Jamie said, and he would often be recognised in the street. “The stories were charming, and the formula just worked. The rockets and the gadgets were always fun for kids as well,” he added.
However, Jamie also recalled that his father “hated the puppets” as they were a “pain in the a***”, and sometimes felt he had been pigeon-holed into being a marionette director.
He leaves three children from former marriages — Joy, Linda and Gerry jnr — as well as Jamie and his widow Mary.