Thunderbirds first appeared on British television sets in 1966, giving audiences an endearing appreciation of director Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation animation style, which conflated puppetry with visual graphics. The success of the show spawned several feature films over the years as well as a range of re-edits for the American market. However, an attempt to remake the show from scratch in 1993 was abandoned due to unsatisfactory animation quality, meaning fans’ wait for a revamp would continue.
Then, a decade later, in 2013, this long wait finally ended with the announcement that ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures (in association with Weta) had agreed to remake the show under the title Thunderbirds are Go—and last night Kiwis watching TV2 got their first taste of the CGI-powered live-action model sets coming to life during the first episode of the 12-part first series.
According to Nielsen’s overnight ratings, a total of 271,400 aged five and older tuned in to watch the show. More significantly, 143,900 of those that watched the show were aged between 25 and 54.
Jeff Latch, head of content at TVNZ, says it’s exciting to be bringing such an iconic series back to New Zealand screens and expects it resonate with the current generation as much as the original did with audiences in the 1960s and ’70s.
“Thunderbirds appeals to a remarkably broad audience, young and old, male and female,” says Latch. “Kids love the characters and what adult wouldn’t want to own Thunderbird 2? Having had a sneak preview of the series I can say that it lives up to fans expectations and it’s great to be able to share more iconic Kiwi-generated content with New Zealanders.”
Because the show was produced in New Zealand, TVNZ could work with the production team to make promotions specific to the local broadcast of the show.
“We worked with our friends in Pukeko Pictures and ITV to create something bespoke for TV2 audiences that put Brains into our popular ‘Show Me TV2’ spots,” says TV2 marketing manager Chris Hooper.
And the result of this collaboration is quirky promo that features the character Brains lending is awkward talents to a short introduction of the show.
“Fans have told us they love seeing international stars talking about TV2 in those promos, so it’s really exciting for us to welcome one of our newest stars onto the channel in this way,” says Hooper.