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wwp 19th February 2013 01:16 AM

Where were they when Gerry needed them?
Now that Gerry is gone, we see all sorts of tributes, awards named after him, and major film/TV studios relaunching new productions based on his work. This is all well and good, Gerry deserves it all, but where were they when he really needed them? Where was ITV throughout the 1980s, 1990's and 2000's, when Gerry was struggling as an independent producer, trying time and again to launch new series and films, only to be rejected by these same people? I say "shame on them!" Gerry was England's own Walt Disney, and yet ITV and others didn't recognize this . . . he was treated like garbage and ignored during the later part of his career, for the most part. They refused to finance his projects, yet financed and distributed other lousy productions nobody remembers. Shameful. I wonder how many wonderful TV shows and movies we all sadly missed out on, during the 1980s, 1990's and 2000's because Gerry was rejected by ITV and other British studios / networks?

john61 19th February 2013 08:41 AM

I've occasionally wondered this myself, but it will take someone with a greater knowledge of tv production and tv financing than me to answer the question. I always assumed the people with the money didn't feel Gerrys type of productions were 'right' for that time, but of course I may be wrong and it might not have been that at all. Ugly old politics may have come into it. There are people on this forum who will have a greater understanding of such things, and maybe they'll be able to shed some light on this sad subject. Like you I wonder what might have been if Gerry got better backing and financing. Sadly we'll never know. But luckilly it's very easy to make the most if what he did give us.

air terrainean 19th February 2013 09:42 AM

Gerry and his team were very lucky in the early years to have been backed by Lew Grade, who for almost 15 years gave them a free hand to make exactly what they wanted to make. Some of these shows were hugely successful, others weren't, or have only recently become more popular. When Lew Grade lost control of ATV/ITC there was no one else in British television willing to take the same kind of risk, and it consequently became much harder for anyone to make unusual or expensive programmes. By the early 1980s most of Gerry's team had also moved on, and so when he was given the chance to make a new show (Terrahawks) he more or less had to start from scratch, and sadly the resulting programme wasn't the international hit that some of his earlier shows had been. The same happened with Space Precinct and New Captain Scarlet. If Gerry had been able to come up with another programme as successful as Thunderbirds, things may have been completely different. I'd agree though that he always seemed to be an 'outsider' as far as the TV industry in this country is concerned, and the lack of any kind of decent TV tribute is pretty shameful.

john61 19th February 2013 12:42 PM

But isn't this usually the case for inovative imaginitive people who produce work not aimed at appealing to the lowest common denominator? Such people make those with the money feel nervous. Look at the talented film makers who continually make top notch films who have to form their own production company. Look at Alfred Hitchcock making dozens of oscar worthy films and never winning one, except a lifetime achievement award rushed to him about three and a half minutes before he died. Look at the amount of Oscar worthy films Spielberg made before he finally got one. I know with Gerry we're not talking about awards, but it's all part and parcel of the same thing. Those with the money and power like safe. They don't like mavericks, they don't like inovative. They'll pay up hapilly for as much bland unimaginitive tosh as can be presented to them, but show them someone who does things a bit differently, and makes stuff that'll do the viewer good, and they get all nervouse and reluctant to back them. Conformity is the key. Conform and follow the rules or find your own money. Poor old Gerry was just subjected to that. If Gerry came up with the X Factor or I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here he'd have been given more backing than he'd have known what to do with, but because he came up with stuff that was actually worth watching, and Lew Grade wasn't always around, he met the resistance usually reserved for his kind. It's a terrible sad shame, but it's how it is. If you're happy watching so called celebrities learning to ice skate or balroom dance, then this wont be a problem for you, but if you want the images you see on the screen to bring something of value to your life, then like me, you're out of luck. As I said, sad and shamefull, but just how it is.

lightcudder 19th February 2013 02:33 PM


Originally Posted by john61 (Post 17141)
If you're happy watching so called celebrities learning to ice skate or balroom dance, then this wont be a problem for you, but if you want the images you see on the screen to bring something of value to your life, then like me, you're out of luck. As I said, sad and shamefull, but just how it is.

I couldn't agree more, John. We have to be realistic though. Gerry's finest work was in the 1960s and 70's; a long time ago unfortunately. Mention his name to most (non-fan) people and they will instantly say 'Thunderbirds'. Most of his other programmes did not have that same impact on the casual viewer. That is in no way meant to be any reflection on his work. He was an unrecognised genius in the TV world. But there are a lot of those around sadly. I genuinely feel that there is little we fans can do apart from stick together and make darned sure that we keep his work alive through sites such as this. Or does that sound defeatist? I hope not. It isn't intended to be, but perhaps, as a longstanding UFO fan, I am weary of the apparent lack of interest in that series. Maybe, IF there is a UFO film, it will bring new fans. Maybe.

john61 19th February 2013 07:36 PM

As a species it is in our nature to strive and push and overcome any obstacle to survive. But in recent years we seem to have changed so it is now our nature to take the easy path, and this seems especially so with entertainment. En masse we have become very easilly pleased and have embraced that which we can watch without taxing ourselves. Programs that require little if any thought. You could say the entertainment equivalent of labour saving devices. Soaps that require no mental input to watch. So called family entertainment shows that do not stimulate even slightly. As I said in a previius text, things aimed at the lowest common denominator. Strictly Come Dancing. Britains Got Talent etc etc. Lots of totally untaxing un stimulating images on screens to vegetate in front of, and as a species we've hapilly accepted it because it's easier to watch than, say, an inteligent drama tgat requires effort and thought th watch. Some of us however want more, some of us want stimulating and taxing effort necessary programs, and when we're lucky enough to get someone who wants to give us what we want, someone like Gerry Anderson, the poor sod has to climb hell and high water to get the necessary backing to give it to us. Why? Because Gerrys idea of quality tv wont make tv money men enough readies to justify their investment. Not an artist among them, just a load of bean counters. But then I suppose that is the nature of business, so we should expect it. Luckilly Gerry was lucky enough to find at least some people who saw beyond the money, and we at least have that to be thankfull for. So we at least got the priceless gems we got. It's just a shame there weren't more Lew Grades around. Things could have been a lot better if there were. But we can at least appreciate what Gerry was able to make. Which I do all the time.

Colonel Foster 19th February 2013 09:09 PM

I Concur
With John.

air terrainean 19th February 2013 11:33 PM

You have to remember though, that when Lew Grade financed Supercar and the other shows that Gerry produced in the 60s, it was because they were seen as having commercial potential, so that's not really any different from today. There was also less TV programing available, so more shows had to be supplied to fill the schedules. Part of the problem now is that audiences can get the same kind of escapism from big budget movies on a widescreen in their own homes. It's much more difficult for television companies to compete with those kind of production values. The BBC have done well with Dr Who, and ITV did try with Primeval, but these kind of shows are expensive to produce for what is a diminishing TV audience. There is so much more choice for screen entertainment these days that any new programme has to compete with a whole range of options, rather than just one or two alternative channels. Also, it's easy to forget that in the past. most of ATV/ITC's output was regarded as junk entertainment for the masses, and it's only in recent years that some of what they produced has begun to be regarded more highly.

john61 20th February 2013 11:48 AM

I appreciate what you are saying, but I do think very little respect is given to the inteligence of the viewer by people who make tv programs. Some, especially programs made for children and younger viewers, are written with respect for the viewers intelect, but most programs are made as if the producers believe they will be watched by zombies. This has probably been the case ever since tv was invented, but to me it seems to have got more so in recent years. I may be wrong, it may be no worse now than it's ever been, but to me it looks like it is. My niece who is now in her early twenties used to love a cartoon called Percy The Park Keeper when she was a little girl. A cartoon made for very young children with Jim Broadbent providing Percys voice. I recently watched a few episodes with her and her two year old son, first time I've seen it in years, and I have to say I think even Percy The Park Keeper was made with more respect for the young viewers inteligence than most of the junk made for adults now.and I think the same about Gerrys programs. Even when they were 'puppet shows for kids' they were made with respect for the inteligence of the viewer. I saw Gerry as someone who made programs for people he knew weren't idiots, no matter whether it was Torchy or Space 1999, he knew all his viewers would have certain levels of inteligence no matter how young, and he made sure he gave them something worthwhile. That has always been my impression of Gerry, and I honestly don't think I'm wrong. When he got older, before he developed his health problems, he must have found it quite sadenning seeing all the lame brained mindless junk being shown on tv now days.

saturnapollo 20th February 2013 12:33 PM

One thing you have to keep in mind, most of Gerry's productions were really science fiction or had a science fiction element which in itself is a niche audience and science fiction goes in and out of fashion. Look how much trouble Dr Who fans had in getting Dr Who back.

Plus his productions were very expensive to make compared to the likes of Dr. Who and Blakes 7 so I can kind of see how he would be up against it a lot of the time trying to get these financed.

Also by modern standards TV productions are very fast paced for the younger audience or the US market and to be honest none of Gerry's productions were particularly noted for that and potential investors or production people may have taken things like that into consideration. As we all know these sorts of people tend to pigeonhole others and may have thought he wouldn't produce what they were after.

We should count ourselves lucky that Gerry managed (probably despite the odds) a lot of iconic programming we will continue to enjoy for the rest of our lives.


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