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Six Decades of Themes from Gerry Anderson’s TV Shows Live in Concert

Music from one of the most iconic back catalogues of all time, including Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Captain Scarlet and UFO, will be celebrated in a special one-off concert at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, a B:Music venue on Saturday 16 April 2022.

The timeless soundtracks from the TV shows of legendary producer Gerry Anderson MBE, with music by renowned composers like Barry Gray, Richard Harvey, and Crispin Merrell, will be brought to life throughout the evening by a full symphony orchestra and guest singers, depicting the iconic landscape of music, sounds and themes that defined an era.

Having left an undeniable and indelible mark on popular culture, Gerry Anderson’s TV series have had a seismic impact on the childhoods of many, thanks to the introduction of ground-breaking special effects, captivating characters, inspirational stories, and evocative music scores that are so infused to the genre.

The iconic theme tunes and incidental music from classic Anderson shows – including Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Captain Scarlet, Stingray and UFO – will be played alongside that of his earliest work like The Adventures of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy, and Four Feather Falls, right through to Terrahawks, Space Precinct and his final production: New Captain Scarlet. The themes and incidental music will be presented alongside stunning visuals from the series and films including newly produced, specially restored, and previously unseen footage. Regardless of their entry point into the worlds of Gerry Anderson, fans can be assured of a nostalgic and exciting evening that will take them straight back to their childhoods.

Anderson Entertainment presents a world premiere production in Stand By For Action! Gerry Anderson in Concert, a unique celebration of the life and TV productions of Gerry Anderson MBE. Hosted by special guest Jon Culshaw, who provides the voices for characters including Parker and Jeff Tracy in Anderson Entertainment’s Thunderbirds audio stories, it is the first time this complete, career-spanning collection of film and music has been performed live in concert.

Jon Culshaw said, “I’m thrilled and very honoured to be hosting this fantastic occasion; an occasion which will fill the Symphony Hall auditorium with the magic of the great Gerry Anderson. I grew up with Gerry Anderson’s shows, so having the opportunity to present his work to a live audience is a real delight. Stand by for Action!”

The sensational show will transport fans through over 60 years of the Gerry Anderson back catalogue. The music will be brought to life by a full symphony orchestra featuring Anderson composer Crispin Merrell on piano, conducted by BAFTA-winning composer and Anderson alumnus, Richard Harvey.

Jamie Anderson, Director of Anderson Entertainment, said, “I cannot wait for fans to enjoy this exciting, nostalgia-packed and varied evening of iconic tunes with a full video backdrop. The concert will feature exclusive footage and newly restored colour and high-definition content. This truly is an epic journey not to be missed.

The city of Birmingham has played such an important part in the creation of my father’s work, which many people maybe aren’t even aware of, so I can’t think of a better venue than Birmingham’s incredible Symphony Hall to host this special evening.”

One of Birmingham’s connections to Gerry Anderson’s work is that many of the most-recognisable puppets were created in the city. John Blundall was one of Britain’s foremost puppet masters and designers, who created memorable work in both theatre and television. Born in Birmingham, Blundall had made his first puppets by the age of 14, before going on to train in puppet-making and theatre in Russia and Japan. In 1966, Blundall joined the staff of Birmingham’s Midland Arts Centre, where he founded the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in 1968.

Among the puppets designed by Blundall was the character of Aloysius Parker from Thunderbirds. Blundall was one of four puppet designers who worked with Gerry Anderson to create the characters for the series, as well as characters for Supercar, Stingray and Fireball XL5.

In addition to the puppets, the original sound effects for many of Gerry Anderson’s TV productions were created in Birmingham. Grosvenor Road Studios, formerly the renowned Hollick & Taylor Studios, has been Birmingham’s best keep secret for over sixty years. During that period, many firsts have been recorded at the studios including all the original sound effects for Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Supercar and others. The effects were often improvised by studio owners John and Jean Taylor, placing Jean in a small group of women at the forefront of electronic music and sound effects. Grosvenor Road Studios, where one of the studios is called the Thunderbird Suite, is now the home of B:Music’s Associate Artists Black Voices.

Jez Collins, Founder of Birmingham Music Archive said, “Grosvenor Road Studios is such an important part of Birmingham’s history. It’s Birmingham’s Abbey Road. Both Noddy Holder and John Bonham began their recording careers here. Reggae legends such as Jimmy Cliff and Steel Pulse have recorded here, and it is where the sound effects were made for a number of Gerry Anderson’s TV shows.

Over 60 years ago, John and Jean Taylor made up the sound effects as they went along. They would go into the garden or around the house and find things to make the sounds- stones and pebbles, nuts and bolts, knives and forks, or even just banging the doors. It was a very experimental time, and Jean was an early pioneer of women in electronic effects. I am delighted that this is going to be celebrated at Symphony Hall, as many of us feel that Birmingham really is the spiritual home of these great shows.”

Presented by Anderson Entertainment and Carrot Productions, Stand By For Action! Gerry Anderson in Concert will take place at Symphony Hall, a B:Music venue on Saturday 16 April 2022 at 7.30pm.

Images: Jonathan Williams

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