TV - Terrahawks

Gerry Anderson

With the news that Big Finish and Anderson Entertainment's Terrahawks is getting a second audio series, memories unfold for Steve Taylor-Bryant...

I really enjoyed the original Thunderbirds and the Captain Scarlet that I managed to see as a child. Gerry Anderson's puppetry holds a special place in the “fond memories section” of my brain so, when there was a new show announced, I remember being incredibly excited to see it before the fear hit home but I’ll get to that fear in a minute.

Terrahawks was made so long ago that we are only five years away from the time it was set in, 2020, and I am sure that, should we have a base on Mars by then, it wouldn’t be destroyed by an alien race, which happened in the show. Mars base was attacked and the Earth was under threat with all hopes of survival resting with a small group of protectors called the Terrahawks. From their South American hideaway, Hawknest, the Terrahawks planned how they would defeat this alien race and built some futuristic weapons for the fights ahead.

The vehicles and bases were superbly designed and just what every child would draw if they had been set a project in school to defeat aliens. From Spacetank to The Groundhawk through to the flying command centre, The Terrahawk, the vehicles and bases were different to the things in Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet but doffed a cap to those past Anderson shows by looking like they could fit into any of his universes. My personal favourite was The Hawkwing with its particle accelerator, detachable explosive wing and the fact my hero Lieutenant Hawkeye was one of the pilots. Oh, and the Zeroids! Let’s not forget the Zeroids. Small round robotic football-looking things voiced by Windsor Davies, marvellous!

Zelda

Then there was the fear I spoke of earlier. Zelda. In 1983, when the show started, I was only eight years old and barely used to coming out from behind the couch, thanks in the main to Doctor Who so, when the television network introduced, during the daytime mind you, the witch-looking alien leader known as Zelda I was all ready to pack up my t-shirts and Action Man and move in behind the couch on a permanent basis. Yellow eyes, teeth missing, long talon-like nails, and yet quite human looking, like my Nan! That’s it, that is why the fear: this alien leader was a violent, psychotic, latex puppet version of my Nan.

Terrahawks was the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humour, balanced with the right number of battle scenes and was fantastic viewing for the three or so years it ran. Unfortunately though Anderson didn’t have the control of the show that he held with his other productions and the show disappeared into relative obscurity with very few re-runs on television and hardly any videotape left remaining. Anderson had kept his budget down by making the latex characters rather than the wooden marionettes of his previous shows and when the show was cancelled there had actually been more series planned.

Whilst I would have loved to continue watching such a magnificent show over and over again, the characters’ disappearance for many years has led to an almost cult-like status for the Terrahawks. I wish Big Finish all the luck in the world with their new version of the Terrahawks but I still pine for the alien-looking Nan being on my screen making me dive behind furniture.

Images - Anderson Entertainment