Sylvia Anderson, co-creator of the popular science-fiction TV show Thunderbirds has sadly died at her Berkshire home at the age of 88. The family of the ground-breaking English Television producer and writer confirmed the tragic news of her passing after a short illness.

Provided the voice of Lady Penelope

Anderson was not only one half of the creative team behind Thunderbirds – along with her then husband Gerry – she also became intrinsically linked to the show by providing the voice for the aristocratic female spy, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward.

Magical pairing with Parker

For Children growing up in the 1960s, the partnership of Lady Penelope and her devoted butler and chauffeur, Parker became familiar faces to brighten up their television viewing. What was slightly different to many other popular double acts though was that the Thunderbirds’ pairing were actually puppets, starring alongside the indefatigable Tracy family members who made up the life-saving organisation known as “International Rescue”.

Catchphrase became popular

Anderson’s distinctive tones suited the fashionable Lady Penelope character perfectly, with her trusted sidekick responding gruffly with an obedient “Yes, M’Lady” (which became a much-mimicked catchphrase) whenever called upon by his intrepid employer.

Her eye-catching pink, modified Rolls-Royce with its unique ‘FAB 1’ number plate fitted comfortably into the mid-60s mood of brashness and colourful dress sense.

Developed other memorable shows

In a lengthy career spanning five decades, Anderson’s creative output also incorporated such memorable shows as Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, in an age when puppetry became a useful vehicle to fuel the imaginations of countless young children.

Revolutionary puppetry techniques

Thunderbirds excelled on that count as it produced pure TV stardust, utilising the newly-developed technique of electronic marionette puppetry (that became known as “Supermarionation”) in combination with special effects sequences using scale models.

Limited original run

The show premiered on UK television in 1965 and has been shown in more than 60 countries worldwide to confirm its appeal, yet only 32 episodes were produced in the original format.

Subsequent television re-runs have ensured that future generations have continued to enjoy its nostalgic approach long after the shows stopped being made.

Updating the show to bring it into the 21st century, a TV remake was screened last year called Thunderbirds Are Go which featured computer animation techniques.