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Thunderbird 6

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Thunderbird 6
Thunderbird 6.jpeg
"Upset. Me upset? OF COURSE I'M NOT UPSET!"
Genre: Science-fiction
Directed By: David Lane
Produced By: Sylvia Anderson
Written By: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Based On: Thunderbirds
Starring: Keith Alexander
Sylvia Anderson
John Carson
Peter Dyneley
Gary Files
Christine Finn
David Graham
Geoffrey Keen
Shane Rimmer
Jeremy Wilkin
Matt Zimmerman
Cinematography: Harry Oakes
Distributed By: United Artists
Release Date: July 29 1968 (United Kingdom)
Runtime: 89 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: £300,000
Prequel: Thunderbirds Are Go

Thunderbird 6 is a 1968 British science fiction action-adventure puppet film based on Thunderbirds, a Supermarionation television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and filmed by their production company Century 21 Productions. Written by the Andersons and directed by David Lane, it is the sequel to Thunderbirds Are Go (1966).


In 2028, the New World Aircraft Corporation in England gives Brains an open brief to design a revolutionary aircraft. Brains suggests an airship, prompting howls of laughter from the executives. Nevertheless, his proposal is accepted and the corporation builds Skyship One, a fully automated airship powered by an anti-gravity field. Representing International Rescue for the maiden flight – a private round-the-world trip with pre-programmed stops – are Alan Tracy, Tin-Tin, Lady Penelope and Parker. Brains, meanwhile, is forced to remain on Tracy Island after Jeff asks him to design a sixth Thunderbird craft. Working without a specification, Brains produces a range of concepts but all are rejected by Jeff.

Alan and Tin-Tin fly to England in an old Tiger Moth biplane and join Penelope and Parker before Skyship One departs. However, the group are unaware that Captain Foster and the stewards have been murdered and replaced by agents of The Hood, now operating as "Black Phantom" from an abandoned airfield near Casablanca. As the ship is automated, the impostors are not required to demonstrate any detailed knowledge of its systems and are thus able to avoid raising their guests' suspicions as the trip progresses.

After Skyship One leaves the Egyptian pyramids, Penelope finds a bugging device in her bedroom. Unknown to her, Foster and his men have been recording and editing her voice to assemble a fake radio message asking Jeff to send Thunderbirds 1 and 2 to the abandoned airfield, where The Hood and his men intend to hi-jack the craft. During a stop in the Swiss Alps, Parker discovers the editing equipment, but before the group can act the message is completed and transmitted to Tracy Island via John on Thunderbird 5. Jeff immediately dispatches Scott and Virgil in Thunderbirds 1 and 2, but Alan realises that his brothers are flying into a trap and Penelope is able to forward the warning just in time. On landing at the airfield, Scott and Virgil use the Thunderbirds rocket launchers to destroy The Hood's base. They then take off to rendezvous with Skyship One.

Aboard the airship, Alan, Penelope and Parker engage in a shootout with the impostors but are forced to surrender when Tin-Tin is taken hostage. The anti-gravity system is damaged in the fighting, causing the ship to lose altitude and crash into a radio mast at a missile base near Dover. With Skyship One balanced precariously on top of the mast and its anti-gravity field weakening, it is up to Scott, Virgil and Brains to rescue all aboard before the ship collapses onto the base below. However, Scott and Virgil are unable to close in without their thrusters tipping it over and none of Thunderbird 2s Pod Vehicles is light enough to deploy onto it. At Gordon's suggestion, Brains flies the Tiger Moth up to Skyship Ones top deck to airlift the passengers and crew to safety one by one. However, on landing, he is held at gunpoint by Foster and his two surviving henchmen. With Penelope hostage in the plane's cockpit, Foster tries to take off but is shot dead by Alan. The Tiger Moth launches with the International Rescue agents and impostors clinging on to the wings and landing gear. Shortly after, Skyship One crashes to the ground, starting a chain reaction that obliterates the missile base.

The remaining impostors are killed in a shootout aboard the Tiger Moth. Stray bullets puncture the fuel tank, forcing Penelope to make an emergency landing. After near misses with a factory chimney, a bridge on the M104 motorway and a tree, Penelope ditches the plane into a field. Parker is thrown out when the plane clips the tree top and ends up dangling upside down in its branches before falling to the ground.

Back on Tracy Island, Brains unveils the new Thunderbird 6 as none other than the repaired Tiger Moth, which all agree has proven its worth in the field.

Why It’s Not F.A.B.

  1. By the time this film was made, Captain Scarlet had come and gone and Thunderbirds was yesterdays news. It was over 1 1/2 years since the last episode of the series aired.
  2. Thunderbirds hardware generaly looks amazing, but Skyship One looks ugly.
  3. Alan, Tin-Tin and Penelope are unlikeable as they bully Parker.
  4. Jeff is no better than Alan, Tin-Tin and Penelope as he bullies Brains.
  5. The scene where the original crew of Skyship one are gunned down is way too dark for a family friendly movie.
  6. By the time this was made, it was made alongside Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons which used human preportioned heads as opposed to the caricatures of Thunderbirds. The heads for this film were a compromise of both. But the problem here is that it serves only as a distraction from the film.
  7. During the climax, Skyship one balances on A RADAR TOWER!!!
  8. Whilst Brains got a happy ending, Parker didn't.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Brains throwing a tantrum was pretty funny.
  2. Excellent musical score by Barry Gray.
  3. Gorgeous cinematography and model effects.
  4. The idea of the Thunderbirds team going on a world tour is a nice concept, it's just a shame that is was badly botched.
  5. Brains got a happy ending.
  6. Like it's predecessor, it can be considered by some as slightly better than the 2004 film adaptation.


Thunderbird 6 was a box office failure and its poor reception put an end to plans for another sequel. In a contemporary review for the Daily Mail, critic Barry Norman described Thunderbird 6 as a showcase of "technical excellence" but also pointed out its "class-conscious" side, noting that the manservant Parker is the butt of several jokes over the course of the film.

Stephen La Rivière ascribes the film's failure to a loss of public interest in Thunderbirds: by the time the film was released, the TV series had been cancelled and the final episode ("Give or Take a Million") had been broadcast over a year earlier. He praises the film's visuals, writing that the Tiger Moth effects were "some of the best effects work Century 21 would ever create. It is a testament to their skill and ingenuity that, in the motorway sequence, the model shots are indistinguishable from the original." However, he questions the lack of action sequences, suggesting that this was disappointing to younger viewers and makes the film "feel like an extended puppet version of holiday magazine programme Wish You Were Here...?" He argues that this "unfamiliar air" to the film is compounded by its voice acting, which he believes sounds more mature than before (a development he attributes to the casting of new actors like Gary Files and Keith Alexander).

La Rivière further argues that the use of a vintage biplane as the star vehicle, and Virgil's pun on Esso's slogan "Put a Tiger in Your Tank", would have been appreciated only by an adult audience. The film's younger viewers, on the other hand, "had spent the entire 90 minutes eagerly waiting for the most fantastic piece of hardware to arrive. They got an old plane.Commentator John Marriott also criticises the Tiger Moth, remarking that "the big screen was an unsuitable place for the gentle irony of steam-age technology scoring triumphantly over an array of fantasy machines. Responding to claims that the tone is markedly different from that of Thunderbirds Are Go, Gerry Anderson said that as many months had passed since the last TV episode, Century 21 was "much more aware with ['Thunderbird 6] that it wasn't just a question of making a longer episode, but it was, indeed, to make something special for the cinema.

John Peel is dismissive of the film, comparing it negatively to the "well-made fun" of Thunderbirds Are Go. He calls it "a feeble last fling for a brilliant series" with an over-long and illogical plot, weak jokes and little action. BBC Online gives the film three stars out of five, calling it a "weak and perhaps too padded adventure" whose plot has the "extended feel of a special TV episode instead of a feature film. Jim Schembri of The Age praises the story and describes the film as having a "snappier pace, with an action climax leaps ahead of anything in the latest Bond epic. Writing for the same newspaper, Philippa Hawker notes an increased level of humour, stating that the film is "more self-consciously light-hearted but it's also more suspenseful. The review describes the film as "entertaining if antiquated" and a "a slice of kid-friendly cinema made for a far more innocent age.




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