Gerry Anderson Adverts
In the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s Gerry Anderson directed a number of television adverts. A Jif dessert toppings advert renewed his advertising career (which had started in the 1950s) and in 1990 he joined the Moving Picture Company as a commercials director. A number of his key crew from Terrahawks, Dick Spanner and some earlier productions joined him to create a series of very successful adverts – some of which featured his well-loved characters (like Scott Tracy, Parker, Penelope and Titan). We’ve selected some of his key adverts for you to enjoy – how many of these Gerry Anderson adverts do you remember?
The Royal Bank of Scotland – Shoes (1985)
This award winning stop motion animated advert was shot in just three weeks and was (to quote Gerry Anderson) “a technical nightmare!”. It was named as Commercial of the Week by Campaign magazine and won a Silver Arrow award. In an alternate ending, the successful entrepreneur character can be seen smoking a cigar – the smoke forming the RBS logo.
The Giacometti-style models were made by Richard Gregory, and Steve Begg was director of photography. The animation was undertaken by Joan Ashworth – now a professor at the Royal College of Art.
Richard recalls: “There were too many characters for them to be supported on wires, or fly wires in, so I got a call late one Sunday night from Gerry. He asked if I could come down the next day to help. We worked out a way of using blades attached to square brass tubes that slotted into the bottom of the statues’ legs. As each foot landed, the blade was pushed into the base of the set, and the tube fitted into a hole in the foot.” This allowed the models to stand perfectly, allowing the impressive stop motion walking sequences to be filmed.
Tennants Pilsner – Lou Tennant (1987)
Made in a very similar style (in look, feel and humour) to Dick Spanner, this series of four pun-filled ads for Tenants Pilsner lager carried the immortal (and very British) line: ‘It’s good, but… not that good.’
Once again Richard Gregory took a lead role in the art department, joined by Mark Woollard (who would later go on to direct New Captain Scarlet) working as an animator.
Exchange and Mart – Scott’s Car (1987)
Scott Tracy sells his car through Exchange & Mart… what self-respecting International Rescue wouldn’t, eh?
This live action commercial featured the two very talented mimes from the Thunderbirds FAB stage show. Andrew Dawson donned the life-size Scott Tracy head and uniform, while Gavin Roberston took on the role of the buyer. The ad was shot at Bray Studios.
Scotch Video Tapes – Archie (1990)
The 1966 World Cup replay advert for Scotch tape featuring Archie the skeleton was also directed by Gerry Anderson – part of a series of three he was involved with. With the apartment designed by Steve Begg (with the concept art still hanging in the Anderson family home to this day), and Richard Gregory returning once again to make Archie for the final advert where the character dances down a set of steps.
Richard recalls: “The original Archie was huge. Around half life-size. So all the sets had to be vast. He was basically totally impractical for stop motion. Anyway, he used to ‘sleep’ in an MDF coffin. When we went to get him out for the third advert, someone had stolen him. So I quickly put together a new 1/3 scale Archie puppet which was used for the final advert – and was much easier to shoot with!”.
Swinton Insurance – Parker’s Day Off (1990)
Christine Glanville and Bob Bell returned to work with Gerry Anderson on this ‘of its time’ ad. With models provided by Richard Gregory and David Sisson, and Steve Begg taking care of the visual effects.
The Thunderbird 2 model, built by Richard Gregory, would later go on to feature in the three Thunderbirds 1965 episodes produced in 2015. Richard also built the Mini that FAB1 smashes into.
Domestos Fresh – Detective Dom (1991)
Dom was designed and built by Richard Gregory, and Jamie Anderson still owns the original armatured Dom! Although sadly the foam rubber he was made of (Dom, that is) has perished and the model looks rather sad and dishevelled these days. An unusual one in our Gerry Anderson adverts selection, but Dom was such a great character we couldn’t resist!
KitKat – Scott Take a Break (1993)
Art directed by Bob Bell and Mark Harris, with a Scott Tracy built specially for the advert by Christine Glanville and Richard Gregory, and the cockpit set build by Mark Woollard and Bill James.
Weetabix – Stingray (1993)
The Stingray Weetabix commercial was shot in 2 days at the Bell Studios near London Heathrow. Christine Glanville and Richard Gregory built a brand new Titan puppet, while ex-Century 21 and Anderson Burr Pictures property master Peter Holmes joined to build the Aquaphibians. Ex-Supermarionation stalwart Harry Oakes also joined as camera operator alongside art director Bob Bell.
Gerry Anderson produced many other adverts, but we thought this selection featured some of his most interesting ones.
Which of the Gerry Anderson adverts was your favourite?