Vic Anderson – Thunderbirds Are Go!

The summer of 1967 was known as ‘the summer of love’. The Beatles hit ‘All You Need is Love’ became something of an anthem and the talk amongst younger people was very much of peace and love. August of that year was also a turning point for 22 year old Vic Anderson. Having just finished a grueling two years working on the set of ‘Thunderbirds’, he was now working up until midnight most evenings filming the latest concept from creative genius Gerry Anderson, ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’.

Professional artist Vic had been a member of the Century 21 team since 1963 and worked on ‘Supercar’, ‘Fireball XL5’ and ‘Stingray’ in the early days. All of these puppet series were extremely popular and great fun to work on. The team were selling the series all over the world and Century 21 Productions was doing very well. TV production had a great future and Vic had joined at just the right time, but the work was exhausting and he wasn’t the only one to be suffering physically from the tight schedules, long hours and late nights. Heavy smoking and drinking was one of the coping mechanisms and a way of relieving stress, but it wasn’t helping Vic. He knew that he needed something else.

Vic was born at the end of World War Two and was one of six children. One of twins, he was initially laid aside by the midwife who thought he was dead. His arm was broken and he wasn’t breathing following a difficult birth, but after a few minutes, his aunt noticed the sheet covering him was moving. Vic started to breathe on his own and after a spell in hospital he was sent home. At school, Vic excelled at art. He attended Kent Institute of Art and Design at the same time as fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, and afterwards joined the C21 Production Team which was already making successful children’s programmes, but was about to take off in an unprecedented way with Stingray and Thunderbirds. They would soon gain worldwide fame.

Earlier in 1967 the C21 Team had taken on a new member called Peter. Vic says, “There was something about his life that was very different to mine at the time. He was a good, wholesome man and he told me about the love of God that was shown in Jesus and his death on the cross to take away my sin.” Vic saw that Peter was also different from the other members of staff because he didn’t seem to need to drink and smoke heavily in order to cope with the stress. Vic had been brought up to go to sunday school. He was confirmed by the Bishop of Dover in his teens, but he still didn’t have the peace that Peter had found.

By the summer of that year, Vic was very stressed and feeling constantly ill with violent migraine headaches. Peter asked him to go along to a church event one evening and he agreed. It really wasn’t the stuffy church event that Vic had expected. Vic says, “The meeting was full of young people, mostly in their early twenties. Several of them stood up and told their story. They had been drug addicts, drunks and petty criminals, but they all had this one thing in common. They had all been set free by Jesus Christ. I saw that this was my answer too.” At the end of the evening people were asked to give their lives over to Christ, and Vic responded. He also discovered that his best friend Terry, who also worked for Century 21, had also been in the meeting and had responded in the same way as Vic.

Within weeks, Vic found that the headaches had stopped. The hard work continued, but he was able to cope in a new way. There was an inner strength, an inner peace, and both Terry and Peter at work to talk and pray with in times of stress. Vic married his girlfriend Babs in 1969 and continued working at Century 21 until 1970 when he was given a new post with ABC TV. A few years after that he became a full-time Christian minister. Vic is now officially retired, but he continues to give talks on Thunderbirds and also works for Gideons, a world-wide group who distribute bibles to prisons, schools, hotels, hospitals and the military.

Story by Ralph Burden
* photo attribution: by Ralph Burden          photo: Vic Anderson with C21 original puppet of himself
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