‘Anything can happen in the next half-hour’: Gerry Anderson’s transnational science fiction
Bignell, J. (2011) ‘Anything can happen in the next half-hour’: Gerry Anderson’s transnational science fiction. In: Hochscherf, T. and Leggott, J. (eds.) British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy (29). McFarland, Jefferson (North Carolina) & London, pp. 73-84. ISBN 9780786446216
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Gerry Anderson’s 1960s puppet series have hybrid identities in relation to their medial, geographical, and production histories. This chapter ranges over his science fiction series from Supercar (1961) to Joe 90 (1968), arguing that Anderson’s television science fiction in that period crossed many kinds of boundary and border. Anderson’s television series were a compromise between his desire to make films for adults versus an available market for children’s television puppet programs, and aimed to appeal to a cross-generational family audience. They were made on film, using novel effects, for a UK television production culture that still relied largely on live and videotaped production. While commissioned by British ITV companies, the programs had notable success in the USA, achieving national networked screening as well as syndication, and they were designed to be transatlantic products. The transnational hero teams and security organisations featured in the series supported this internationalism, and simultaneously negotiated between the cultural meanings of Britishness and Americanness. By discussing their means of production, the aesthetic and narrative features of the programs, their institutional contexts, and their international distribution, this chapter argues that Anderson’s series suggest ways of rethinking the boundaries of British science fiction television in the 1960s.