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Thunderbirds Are Go Cliff Richard and the Shadows Test Footage

Five decades on since the Supermarionation shows were made it seems extraordinary that items of interest keep turning up. Over the last few years we’ve seen a stream of everything from puppets, models, unseen photographs and even bits of footage surface – all of which gives us a fascinating insight into the work done during those pioneering days.

Archive material hidden away

One unusual piece that was uncovered last year was this test recording made in 1966 at an ATV television studio. Found in the collection of a retired cameraman, the footage which was identified on the soundtrack as ‘A.P. Films test recording’ turned out to be something very interesting indeed. The owner surmised that the film was a recording of a Thunderbirds pop promo, but when we saw the film (and recognised the unmistakeable voice of Gerry Anderson) we knew immediately its significance.

The footage features five takes of Cliff Richard and the Shadows miming to a recording of Shooting Star, the song which they recorded for their puppet counterparts to perform to in the dream sequence of Thunderbirds Are Go. The first take features a shot of the whole group, whilst subsequent takes focus on individual members of The Shadows (Brian Bennett, John Rostill, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch). Whilst we have no concrete evidence about the film’s intended use, given that certain movements (noticeably the simple side to side dance) were replicated by the marionettes in the film, it seems likely that this 16 minute recording was made for the puppeteers to study the performances of the individual musicians.

You can see a short clip of the Cliff Richard and the Shadows test footage on our YouTube channel:

 

How can I see the footage in full?

The footage was released in its entirety on the recent American blu-ray release by Twilight Time of Thunderbirds Are Go and will be included on Filmed in Supermarionation, Network Distributing’s forthcoming documentary release.
Thanks to Chris Perry and Kaleidoscope for tracking down and saving the footage which is now part of Anderson Entertainment’s Gerry Anderson Archive.

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Stephen La Rivière

Stephen is a writer and filmmaker. His book, Filmed in Supermarionation, was published in 2010 and a new documentary film of the same name is out in September 2014. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/filmedinsupermarionation and follow @Filmed_SuperM on Twitter.

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  • Ross Ironfield

    I’ve seen the footage in full on the blu-ray, and it’s really quite interesting. I would imagine your guess for using it as reference footage is correct… maybe we should ask Cliff himself?

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