Making of Terrahawks DVD

Saturday, 18 October 2008 09:14

On 16 August 1983, a documentary team travelled to Bray Studios where Gerry Anderson was producing his latest SF series, Terrahawks. This was for a special two-part edition of the childrens’ media show Clapperboard.

Whilst the finished programme no longer exists, a vast amount of the original footage was recently discovered, and can now finally be seen in its entirety, 25 years later, to celebrate the anniversary of this series in TERRAHAWKS – MAKING THE UNEXPECTED. Now you can buy a copy of this release - available exclusively through

Terrahawks - Making the Unexpected DVDTerrahawks was heralded as Gerry Anderson’s big return to puppet series - his first in nearly 15 years, since the early demise of The Secret Service. The resulting 39 episodes became very popular across the ITV regions, but in a world that had moved on, the non-network transmission of the first ‘season’ of 13 episodes was a real killer blow for the series.

Despite the show then getting a network Sunday afternoon transmission for its second ‘season’ of 13 outings, the damage had been done already, and the show never fully realised its potential. Indeed, to get the financing for the show, there was a deliberate move to make the format very friendly to young children (the 5 to 9 year-olds), and this immediately alienated the core established audience of Anderson-philes - who wanted to see a continuation of the more adult-orientated approach that the succession of series within the Anderson ‘brand’ had built up to.

In essence, the mood of the series took the viewer back to the good versus evil basis that had last been seen in Anderson’s Supercar back in the early 1960s. There was none of the vast characterisation that had been the foundation to the success of Thunderbirds, the true jeopardy of Captain Scarlet, the engaging back stories present in UFO, or the angle of spirituality that had appealed to so many new converts with Space: 1999.

The vitriol that Terrahawks thus received from ‘alleged’ Anderson fans to some extent has to be considered a great betrayal by many of his long-time supporters. There was a lack of recognition that this was NOT a series made with them in mind, but one that was necessary to set up AnderBurr Productions as the new Century 21 Productions. Had the show been given the proper impetus by these fans, then who knows how history would have been run different.

And to celebrate the Terrahawks 25th anniversary, this unique documentary features behind-the-scenes footage of the programme being filmed, a look into the model work and the workshops that created them, and exclusive interviews with producers Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr, chief puppeteer Christine Glanville, model maker Nick Finlayson and director Alan Pattillo.

In the original Clapperboard programmes, this footage was combined with clips from both Terrahawks and the Anderson back catalogue, and overlaid with an extremely plummy narration to explain to the ‘little ones’ watching what was going on. Kudos to Network in being able to assemble this revised ‘special’ simply from the footage filmed. As a rough estimate, a third to a half of the footage that you will see here is being seen for the first time anywhere (given that much was cut out to fit the original 2 x 25 minute running time). The overall result might be a ‘mere’ 49 minutes in duration, but as the rights to the Terrahawks series currently reside elsewhere, this is as good as it can get in terms of a 25th anniversary celebration.

The RRP for Terrahawks: Making the Unexpected is £9.99 and is only available via the Network DVD website at

Thanks to Cult TV and Network, you could have had the opportunity to add one of five copies of this DVD into your collection, in our prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: THE FOOTAGE FROM TERRAHAWKS: MAKING THE UNEXPECTED CAME FROM WHICH CHILDRENS’ MEDIA DOCUMENTARY SERIES? The answer was Clapperboard, and the lucky winners were Spencer Broadley of Redhill, Russ Drew of Bromley, Anne Cornwall of Attleborough, Jason Spriggs of St Helens, and Simon Anderson of Doncaster.  Well done all!

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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