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The FAB Years by Sylvia Anderson

1/07/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The FAB Years in the USA - or Buy The FAB Years in the UK

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pub: Hermes Press. 176 page illustrated indexed very large softcover. Price: about GBP 12.00 (UK) if you know where to look). ISBN: 1-932563-91-1.

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I pulled ‘The FAB Years’ by Sylvia Anderson a couple years back but the vulgarities of book reviewing means these books have to be placed on the side while I get on with those that are freely given for review. I’m making a bit more of an effort during the summer months to catch up a little, if only to spare the weight on the chair where they are left and to justify why I went after them at the time. You, the reviewer, can also benefit cos I can also turn them into reviews.

There are two camps where the Century 21 TV series are concerned. You’re either backing Gerry Anderson as he’s in the news more or Sylvia Anderson who was not only one of the four company directors and who gave the heart to the creation of the characters on the show. I find Gerry’s attitude to his own shows at odds with their fame. Sylvia, on the other hand, embraces the shows and there is an obvious love for both them and the production staff in this book. Nary a bad word is spoken although there are often things hinted at which I would love to have see elaborated on, especially as to the falling out Gerry had with Derek Meddings, resulting in him moving on. What is made out from this book was them making the best of some unusual decisions and the luck in getting some developing talent and giving them their heads to get the work done. This, in turn, gave the creative atmosphere for both Andersons to create their shows with Gerry supplying the action and Sylvia with characterisation. It’s inevitable in show business that egos will be bruised when attention is moved from one person to the other which is the biggest cause of the break-up of both their marriage and business relationship.

Sylvia Anderson doesn’t really dwell too much on this in this book but is more anecdotal of the people she met over the years and how many celebrities were fans of the shows, many of which are on the book cover. There is also some insight into the work itself and what happened later which if you’re familiar with even things such as the ‘Thunderbirds’ movie fills in some interesting gaps like the latest FAB ONE was based off a Ford than a Rolls Royce being a problem of time.

I have to point out three errors that should have been caught by the editors or even Sylvia herself. A pose of her with Thunderbird Three not Thunderbird One on page 32 being the most obvious. On page 96, the Adam Faith film, ‘What A Whopper’ has it called ‘What A Whipper’ could be seen purely as a typing error. The photo on page 104 looks more like a scene from ‘Captain Scarlet’ than ‘Thunderbirds’. All can be corrected if there’s ever a thought to doing a reprint.

Don’t buy this book if you’re expecting a lot of warts and all. It’s obvious that Sylvia has a joie de vivre about life and that tends to come over far more than anything else. There are a lot of photographs throughout this book and although you might have seen many of them before, I doubt if you would have seen them at the large size shown in this book.

If you’re into the Century 21 franchise, I’m hoping you already own this book. If you’ve missed out, don’t forget to add it to your collection.

GF Willmetts

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