The Wonderbirds are go!
PUBLISHED: 11:51 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:30 18 September 2020
Thunderbirds heroine Dee Anderson on her new show, how she’s celebrating International Thunderbirds Day, plus the new Moxy Hotel
International Thunderbirds day on 30 September marks 55 years since Thunderbirds debuted on our screens - and the World has never been the same since.
Thunderbirds is a British science-fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, filmed by their production company AP Films and distributed by ITC Entertainment. Thunderbirds ran on TV from 1964-1966 and used a technique of puppetry the Anderson’s called ‘supermarionation’.
It’s famous 5-4-3-2-1 intro and march music were household sounds to millions of families, and the two series about the Tracy family and their International Rescue exploits were re-run time and again.
Dee Anderson is the only daughter of both Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. “I grew up with the show, and it was a big success,” she says. “It still has over 100 million followers internationally - what a legacy.”
Dee lived in Maidenhead when she was a little girl, and went to school at The Convent of the Nativity school. “I remember one nun used to read James Bond books - she said she was censoring them!” laughs Dee. “We were a very creative family. My mother created the characters and storylines for Thunderbirds, and my father was the technical genius.
“They were a great team. My mother had aspirations of Hollywood and she said she had brought Hollywood to Slough Trading Estate [where the show was filmed].” Dee continues: “Lady Penelope’s face was based on Mum’s face, but her eyes, Mum told me, were taken from mine. Mum also voiced the character. I was the inspiration for her huge blue eyes.
“You have to agree Lady Penelope is the ultimate inspirational and liberated female, way ahead of her time. A fearless secret agent, whose dangerous missions are an everyday event with her sidekick – the canny ex-con, her chauffeur Parker. Lady Penelope also loves the good things in life and makes no apology for them as she drinks Pernod, and communicates back to base via a teapot.
“I did a lot of singing and dancing growing up. It was obvious I would go into singing and acting,” says Dee. And now she is starring in her own online chat show Wonderbirds.
The Wonderbirds Show is the creation of me and my three friends, actresses Debbie Arnold, Sherrie Hewson and Harriet Thorpe. “The idea began in lockdown when we were on a Zoom call, showing ourselves up,” says Dee.
“Our chat was so funny we decided to publish it online. And after that, we decided we should continue to broadcast our chats live on Facebook and invite guests along.”
They have a different guest for every episode, and so far these have included Gok Wan, Arlene Phillips, Liz Kershaw and Beverly Knight among many others, as well as NHS workers, beauty experts, foodies and more. “We host shows on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and also have a Saturday Special with Richard Arnold,” says Dee.
“We’ve realised there’s a big audience out there. We’re mature women doing something fun online and people have been flooding in to tell us what a difference we’ve made to their lives. It’s so lovely to hear.”
We had also recently spoken to Dee about the new 152-room hotel is also being built just a mile from where the series was produced in Slough, which will will be adorned with images of the characters, space-age transportation and slogans.
There will be themed floor-level signage according to the numbered Thunderbirds vehicles, pop art wall graphics of Lady Penelope and more motifs from the series in its public areas. The new Marriott-owned Moxy Hotel is set to open in early 2021.
She said: “Mum would have loved to have been at the opening night and I am just so pleased that people, not just from England, but from around the world, will come to Slough and enjoy this hotel.”
And what will The Wonderbirds be doing to celebrate International Thunderbirds day on 30 September? Dee says: “We have a very special surprise guest in store, but I can’t reveal any more at the moment.”
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