TV

Thomas Brodie-Sangster: “Thunderbirds promotes simple values based on family”

As Thunderbirds Day is set for launch, actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster talks about breathing life into the Tracy brothers and the need for a real life International Rescue

Five-four-three-two-one Thunderbirds Day is go!

Saturday 30th September has been declared the first Thunderbirds Day, giving fans around the world the chance to celebrate all things International Rescue, whether the original 1960s Supermarionation incarnation or its state of the art reimagining that currently airs on CITV.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, best known for his roles as lovelorn Sam in Love Actually, Simon in Nanny McPhee and Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones, provides the voice of Alan Tracy, the space-bound brother, in Thunderbirds Are Go. We spoke to him about all things Thunderbirds…

The Big Issue: Do you have exciting plans for International Thunderbirds Day?

Thomas Brodie-Sangster: I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do for Thunderbirds Day. Probably a countdown.

When much-loved programmes are revived it often seems like it’s purely for nastalgia’s sake. Do you think it’s different for Thunderbirds Are Go?

I think we’ve got quite a nice balance. I was always a big fan of the original growing up because my dad was. We used to sit down and watch them together and I fell in love. It was always my dream to be a Thunderbird, I had the costume and everything. When I got the part I was very excited but also approaching it as a fan of the original. I was happy to know they were going to build some sets like the original and mix it with animation to capture the imagination of a younger audience who wouldn’t know anything about the ’60s show. It was always aimed at ticking both boxes, being nostalgic for the purposes of making it better, going into what made it good in the first place.

What were those aspects?

For me a big part was the set building, the dirt blown away by air dusters as something took off. The music was fantastic. When I was a child there was already much more sophisticated animation out there but I didn’t have any problem watching puppets. Your imagination as a child can look past that if – and only if – they’re telling cool stories that excite you.

Did you have a crush on Lady Penelope?

I probably wouldn’t describe it as a crush but I definitely had huge respect for her. And she had a cool car.

John Tracy is stuck on a space station all the time. What do you think he does all day?

In the original series I used to find him quite boring. I’ve heard Gerry Anderson didn’t like the puppet of John, which is why he chose him to be up on Thunderbird 5 and not seen very much. But that was in the ’60s when space was first explored. Satellites were fairly primitive. Nowadays there’s a lot more for the character of John to be doing up there. The one who controls the mission from afar. That’s what the military do.

How do you put yourself into his space shoes when you’re in a recording studio?

It’s kind of odd, but it helps doing the recordings with a bunch of other people. Normally I’ve got Scott and Virgil, and those two guys also play Gordon and Alan. I’ve got all my brothers with me when we do these sequences, they’re all into it and you’re into it. You imagine it like a child would.

John Tracy and co

The next series has an incredible guest cast including David Tennant and Emilia Clarke. Do you try to film all together?

We try to get as many people in as we can. All in the same booth as well. We have our own microphones in a rather large booth and try and go through the whole scene and record everyone’s parts there and then. Because it has such a far reach over generations, people are very excited to be part of it.

The Tracy brothers were named after the first five US astronauts. If they were to be renamed today, which heroes would you pick?

Oh I don’t know. There are still space adventurers… Branson? Musk? Tesla – these are all quite cool names. I’ve run out. I’ve got three brothers.

Could we do with a real life International Rescue?

Absolutely yes. There would have to be some aerodynamic changes to Thunderbird 2 to make it work. But I’m sure we could definitely do it.

In this age of isolationism, does the show promote a positive, outward looking view of the world, where we’re all in it together and a problem somewhere in the world is our problem?

It promotes simple values based on family values. It promotes trust and friendship and love from a family perspective that then has a bigger reach to help people all over the world. No matter what predicament they’re in, and whether they’re good or they’re bad, there is a general promotion of love to anyone.

International Thunderbirds Day will take place on 30th September with Season 2, Part 2 of Thunderbirds Are Go coming to CITV the same day

  • To celebrate the day, the following activations are taking place across the UK and London:
    • Vue Entertainment will be helping fans across the UK celebrate with a programme of exciting exclusive Thunderbirds Day screenings. This unique event, held at 2.00pm on Saturday 30th September, in 52 venues nationwide (in honour of 52 years of Thunderbirds), will include a never-before nationally screened episode of Thunderbirds in the style of the classic series, filmed in Supermarionation and using audio recordings starring the original cast, followed by two brand new episodes of the hotly anticipated Season 2, Part 2 of Thunderbirds Are Go.
    • ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) and Transport for London (TfL) are partnering on a Thunderbirds Are Go takeover of TfL’s iconic Emirates Air Line cable car in east London. The activity will run from Friday 22nd September to Sunday 29th October offering families and visitors the chance to travel through the Tracy Island themed cable car terminal featuring large models of Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2, and take off in one of the themed cabins amidst the palm trees to the iconic 5-4-3-2-1 countdown.
    • InterContinental London – The O2 will be hosting a Lady Penelope-themed Afternoon Tea. Visitors will be able to relax in the stylish and decadent surroundings of the Meridian Lounge as they sample delicious themed treats fit for International Rescue’s most stylish field. The event will also be attended by the Lady Penelope and Parker puppets themselves, as seen on TV recently in the Halifax Savers Are Go adverts. The Lady Penelope-themed afternoon tea event will run from 15th September until 30th October

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