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Thunderbirds Are Go (TV series) facts for kids

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Thunderbirds Are Go
Series title over a image of outer space
Genre
Created by Richard Taylor
Voices of Rosamund Pike
Thomas Sangster
Rasmus Hardiker
David Menkin
Kayvan Novak
David Graham
Angel Coulby
Teresa Gallagher
Andres Williams
Composer(s)
  • Ben Foster
  • Nick Foster
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 78 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Estelle Hughes
  • Giles Ridge
  • Richard Taylor
  • Andrew Smith
Cinematography Simon Godsiff
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
  • ITV Studios
  • Pukeko Pictures
  • Weta Workshop
Distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Release
Original network
Picture format 16:9
Original release 4 April 2015 (2015-04-04) – 22 February 2020 (2020-02-22)

Thunderbirds Are Go is a British animated science fiction television programme produced by ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures. It is a reboot of the Thunderbirds series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson which follows the exploits of International Rescue (IR) – a rescue organisation run by the Tracy family out of their secret island base in the Pacific Ocean. They use technologically-advanced craft for land, sea, air and space rescues in their operations, the most important of which are a set of vehicles called the Thunderbirds, piloted by the five Tracy brothers.

The programme premiered on 4 April 2015 and concluded on 22 February 2020, totalling 78 episodes across three series. It received positive feedback from critics and fans of the original series, and has spawned several branches of merchandising since its broadcast.

Background

A revival of the 1960s science fiction Supermarionation television series Thunderbirds was approved by co-creator Gerry Anderson when Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop, visited him at Pinewood Studios while he was working on New Captain Scarlet. On 4 February 2013, ITV Global Entertainment and Pukeko Pictures officially announced the revival under the title Thunderbirds Are Go! Production began in June 2013 at Weta Workshop, while the principal voice cast was announced on 30 September 2014.

Each series consists of 26 episodes with transmission split into multiple parts. Series 1 was broadcast between 4 April–20 June 2015 and 31 October 2015–23 January 2016. A second series was green-lit on 18 December 2014 and aired between 22 October 2016–7 January 2017 and 30 September–16 December 2017. A third and final series was confirmed on 5 May 2016 and was broadcast between 31 March–26 May 2018, 18 May–13 July 2019 and 4 January–22 February 2020.

Premise

Set in the year 2060, Thunderbirds Are Go follows the exploits of the Tracy brothers - Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, and John - who form the backbone of International Rescue (IR): a life-saving organisation that operates from a hidden base in the Southern Pacific Ocean, and who save people from disasters and dangerous situations using technologically advanced crafts for land, sea, air and space rescue, the most prominent of these being five vehicles called "Thunderbirds", each one operated by one of the brothers. In addition to the brothers, IR also includes additional members who offer assistance and support: Chief of Security Tanusha "Kayo" Kyrano, who conducts covert and security operations through the use of a specialised Thunderbird with stealth capabilities; engineer Brains, who provides technological and mechanical support both at the base and in the field; Grandma Tracy, the brothers' maternal support who tends to their home needs; and London operatives Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, an English aristocrat, and Aloysius "Nosey" Parker, a chauffeur and former thief, who conduct investigative and espionage work when required.

Although most rescues involve contending with disaster caused by unforeseen incidents or the actions of criminals, a number are orchestrated by IR's main adversary known only as "The Hood" - a British criminal mastermind who despises the organisation and seeks to often steal their technology while conducting crimes to make him wealthy. Prior to the premiere episode of the programme, the Hood is known to IR and is responsible for the loss of the brothers' father, Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR and a close friend of Colonel Casey, the head of the Global Defence Force (GDF). In the second series, the programme introduced a second villain called "The Mechanic," who causes havoc and eventually helps to break out the Hood, after he is arrested by the GDF at the end of the first series, only to later turn on him in order to break free from his control, whereupon he later surrenders, on condition that Brains helps him secure his freedom. In the third series, a pair of villains called the "Chaos Crew" - formed of siblings Havoc and Fuse - join with the Hood to cause world-wide chaos, and become a considerable problem for both the GDF and IR.

Much of the episodes focus on rescue operations, many of which include elements from the original series - an example includes a remake of the original series premiere episode with a modern take on its plot. Although all episodes mainly include unique characters who have only one appearance, several created for Thunderbirds Are Go make reoccurring appearances, often with them being put into new situations they need rescuing from, though overarching storylines for each series focused mainly on the prominent villains for that series and the actions they undertake. Throughout the programme, the loss of Jeff to his sons plays a key element in a number of stories, both in relics found by the brothers, the various lessons they recall him teaching them, and the people who knew him best. The third and final series eventually included a final story arc focused on Jeff, in which IR discover him to be alive, rather than dead as presumed, but trapped in deep space, with the Tracy family focused on developing the means to reach and rescue him, culminating in the brothers eventually bringing him home.

Cast

  • Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike and Teresa Gallagher also voice various guest characters.
  • Archive audio of Peter Dyneley (voice actor of Jeff Tracy in the original Thunderbirds series) announcing the 5–1 countdown from the programme's title sequence is featured in the remake's titles and during the Thunderbirds' launch sequences.
  • David Graham also voiced Parker in the original Thunderbirds series.

Production

All scale model miniature effects and CGI for the series was produced at Weta Workshop in New Zealand. The series was executive produced by Estelle Hughes, Giles Ridge, Richard Taylor and Andrew Smith, while David Scott and Theo Baynton act as series director and episode director, respectively. The head writer is Rob Hoegee, while Anthony Cox serves as a film editor and Ben Milsom a production designer.

The production of each episode started with a physical set creation. The sets were created using methods similar to those used in the original series, including the use of household objects as components. A film crew would devise camera setups for scenes to match with the movement and positions of CGI-created characters and crafts that were to be imposed later upon the footage. This also included special effects used on set, such as smoke and air. All CGI sequences were storyboarded before being superimposed onto the live-action footage of the miniatures. Each set was then individually scanned as a 3D print to provide reference for the CGI elements so they could be accurately registered in the environments. Details were then introduced, including textures, craft setup, atmospheric particles and flying debris. The UK-based company Milk VFX was responsible for the final composition.

The music score was composed by brothers Ben and Nick Foster. The revived series's opening theme and certain cues remained faithful to Barry Gray's score for the original series, albeit with a contemporary orchestral style.

Episodes

List of Thunderbirds Are Go episodes

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2015 British Academy Children's Awards BAFTA Kids Vote - Television Thunderbirds Are Go Nominated
2016 British Academy Television Craft Awards Original Music Ben Foster, Nick Foster
British Academy Children's Awards BAFTA Kids Vote - Television Thunderbirds Are Go

International broadcasts

On 16 June 2014, ITV Studios Global Entertainment sold the rights in a deal with Australia's free-to-air Nine Network (9Go!), who broadcast both the first series, and the second series. The third series was bought by ABC, who premiered it on ABC Me from 2 June 2018.

On 28 April 2015, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation acquired the television and licensing rights for Thunderbirds Are Go. The Japan broadcast for the first series was premiered on NHK (NHK General TV) on 2016-08-05 (as サンダーバード ARE GO), and all three series were premiered on Super! drama TV later. French broadcasts were premiered in September 2015 on Canal J (as Thunderbirds), followed by Gulli later this year (as Thunderbirds), with Nelvana as French licensing agent.

On 10 February 2016, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced 13 episodes of Thunderbirds Are Go (series 1, split up) would premiere in the United States on Amazon Video on 22 April 2016. The premiere of the second series at Prime Video was also announced. Currently, Series 3 has yet to debut on the service as of 2021.

Canadian broadcasts premiered on CHRGD and Family Channel in April 2016. Taiwan broadcast was premiered in PTS Taiwan on 14 September 2016 (as 新雷鳥神機隊). In Brazil, the show has broadcast on Gloob since 4 July 2016. In Latin America, the show broadcasts on Disney XD. The Nordic broadcasts were premiered in SVT (SVT Barnkanalen) in Sweden (as Thunderbirds), NRK Super in Norway (as Thunderbirds), DR (Ramasjang and Ultra) in Denmark (as Thunderbirds), MTV Juniori in Finland (as Thunderbirds), with Alicom appointed as the Nordic licensing agent.

The series was also premiered in TVNZ (TVNZ 2) in New Zealand, Noga in Israel (with LDI as the agent), MBC (MBC3) in pan-Arab (as ثندربيردز انطلق), NPO Zapp in Netherlands, Télé-Québec in Canada (as Thunderbirds : Les sentinelles de l'air), ABC in Australia, Ketnet in Flemish Belgium (with License Connection appointed as the agent for Benelux) (as Thunderbirds), Minika TV in Turkey, Gloob in Brazil. The Noga premiere began in summer 2015 on Kids Channel. The TVNZ premiere began on 12 April 2015 on TV2.

China's broadcast was premiered on CCTV-14, starting with the first series on 15 May 2017.

Marketing

Since 2016, ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) is launching consumer products programs for Thunderbirds Are Go at France, Benelux and the Nordics.

Since 2016, Bernard Matthews has released a range of Thunderbird craft shaped turkey.

As part of the second series launch in the UK, a fleet of five ThunderCabs taxis with Thunderbirds vehicle themes (including Thunderbirds 1-4, FAB 1) could be booked between 22 and 23 October 2016 between 9am and 5pm via the now-defunct Karhoo app, with rides costing a flat rate of £1 for any journey within central London. All proceeds were donated to The Children's Trust, the UK's leading charity for children with brain injury.

Toys

On 13 May 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced its appointment of Vivid as its master toy partner in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. As of Licensing Expo 2014, Vivid Imaginations had master toy licensee with worldwide rights, excluding US and Asia. There are many toys available in the range, including villains, heroes and the mighty Thunderbirds themselves.

On 24 April 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced that Global Licensing (NZ) Ltd had been appointed as licensing agent for Thunderbirds Are Go in New Zealand. As part of the new deal, Global worked with Vivid Imaginations, the master toy partner for Thunderbirds Are Go, to appoint Planet Fun as the local distributor in New Zealand, which was expected to see toys roll out across the territory from S/S 2015.

The Thunderbirds Are Go master toy line from Vivid Imaginations and distributed by HeadStart was launched in Australia in June 2015. Additional toy rights went to Vivid France and Vivid Holland in respective regions, with Takara Tomy as Japan distributor. The toy launches in France, Benelux and the Nordics began in September 2016, with TOPTOY as pan-Nordic distributor from late summer 2016.

App

An official Thunderbirds app was launched in October 2015 to accompany the second half of season 1.

An official app was also released on 20 May 2015 as an add-on to the features on the website. This free app is available on both Google Play and Apple's App Store. Behind the Story developed the app.

As of 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Miniclip planned the release of a Thunderbirds Are Go mobile game(as Thunderbirds Are Go: Team Rush).

Magazine

An official magazine was published by D. C. Thomson & Co. on 15 October 2015. It features comics, facts, puzzles and more. Each issue includes a free gift. The first six issues had small plastic replicas of Thunderbirds 1–5 and Thunderbird S. After that the gifts were generic front-of-magazine gifts with Thunderbirds Are Go branding, such as notebooks and 'invisible ink' pens.

License Connection became a representative for the brand in the Benelux territories and signed Meis & Maas as master publishing partner to launch a range of books and magazine formats in 2017.

Home media

Digital releases

All episodes are available to purchase digitally in full 1080p HD on Amazon Video and iTunes.

DVD releases

Region 2
Series DVD title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 22 June 2015
Volume 2 14–26 286 mins approx 1 February 2016
Complete Series One 1–26 572 mins approx 1 February 2016
2 Series 2, Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 6 February 2017
Series 2, Volume 2 14–26 (excluding 21) 264 mins approx 5 February 2018
3 Series 3, Volume 1 1–13 290 mins approx 9 September 2019
Series 3, Volume 2 14–26 (plus "Inferno") 312 mins approx 2 March 2020
Region 4
Series DVD title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–7 162 mins approx 24 June 2015
Volume 2 8–13 133 mins approx 24 June 2015
Volume 3 14–20 162 mins approx 20 January 2016
Volume 4 21–26 132 mins approx 3 February 2016
Complete Series (Limited Edition) 1–26 574 mins approx 1 June 2016
2 Series 2, Volume 1 1–13 288 mins approx 5 April 2017
Series 2, Volume 2 14–26 (excluding 21) 264 mins approx 7 March 2018

Blu-ray releases

Region A
Series Blu-ray title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 11 May 2016
Volume 2 14–26 286 mins approx 9 November 2016

Soundtrack releases

Series Soundtrack title Track count Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 (Original Television Soundtrack) 57 1:17:20 4 December 2015
Volume 2 (Original Television Soundtrack) 52 1:18:09 24 November 2017
2 Series 2 (Original Television Soundtrack) 77 2:23:08 23 August 2019
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