Saturday, March 19, 2016

MEMORIES OF AND ABOUT SYLVIA ANDERSON (1927 - 2016)

Several times in the history of this blog I've posted thoughts on the old television series Space: 1999. It was created and produced by Gerry Anderson and his then wife, Sylvia.

Last weekend I took a look at what Sylvia Anderson was up to these days. (Gerry died back in December of 2012.) I also went on to her personal website and saw her comments about looking forward to production of the new Thunderbirds series. (Thunderbirds was a "Supermarionation" series that had been produced in the early to mid 1960s. It enjoys the largest following of all the Anderson shows and, in my opinion, it is their best... with the possible exception of UFO.)

On Wednesday morning I awoke to the news, revealed to me via The Guardian, that the grand lady had passed away the day before (March 15th). At first I was saddened, of course, but was reminded that she lived to 88 years of age; as a matter of fact, Anderson died less than two weeks shy of what would have been her 89th birthday.

I remember listening to an interview with Ms Anderson a few years ago where she spoke of her applying for a job at a film production company back in 1957. She was a graduate of the London School of Economics ("I wanted to save the world...") and was looking for work, now that she was a single mom. What I remember most about Anderson's reminiscences was her recounting how she almost didn't get the job, not through failing the interview, but because she could not find the address of AP Films (Anderson-Provis). Sylvia Anderson, then "Sylvia Thamm", was seconds away from giving up, but before aborting her quest she happened to notice a small side street. It was the street she had been looking for. Just think, had she not decided to check it out Sylvia Thamm would have not become an "Anderson" and gone on to co-produce and co-create and help design all those "puppet shows" and UFO and Space: 1999.

I think that's a great story; a great "what if?". We all have those stories: "If only I had... I didn't realize they were right around the corner... If only I could go back and make sure I looked at the odd sign over what I thought was an automotive repair shop... Why didn't I call that number?...."

The odd thing is many people who gear up intending to enter and prosper as a creator/producer in the film and television business should probably not work in the "biz". They have nothing special in the way of talent, and offer little of note if anything at all. Sylvia Anderson was guided, perhaps, by some great force; someone or something knew this lady would wield influence through innate talent. Imagine that.


Look back at my previous posting on Ms Anderson; from July 12th, 2013...

SYLVIA ANDERSON INTERVIEW STORIES
http://barrysmight.blogspot.ca/2013/07/sylvia-anderson-interview-stories.html

(I would agree with her still on the casting of Space: 1999. Having seen, recently, more than a few episodes of that "near-miss" series, it's obvious one of the many things that would have helped it attain greater heights was if Robert Culp had have been cast as "John Koenig".)

3 comments:

Steve Kindernay said...

Barry,

Really great story about Sylvia Anderson, which I'd not heard of before. It reminds me of the "Turn Left" episode of Doctor Who, or "Tapestry" from Star Trek - The Next Generation. Both are among my favorite episodes of their respective series. It seems like hindsight, but so many of us can look back at times in our lives and ponder "What if?" Thanks for sharing!

Steve

Jon said...

"The road not taken"... one always wonders. But it's debatable whether any mechanism could work to actively select more talented individuals for a creative field. The original "Academy" (the Royal Academy of Painting) was very careful about who they allowed in, but by the 20th century it had become moribund and too concerned with technical mastery. Or there's always the apprentice system, or a Guild, or an elected board of curators, or the guy behind his desk with a cigar who says "Nah, forget it kid, you got nothin'"... It may be that the cure is worse than the disease.

Barry Smight said...

Steve,

You are most welcome! And thanks for your comment!


Jon,

There is that. Universities and colleges change their admissions/screening policies in step with the times... the prevailing wisdom or theories, or needs. Key term: Quotas.

At the risk of sounding as metaphysical as a typical first season episode of Space: 1999, I sometimes think there is a guiding hand. People who never considered themselves as being interested in a particular field often stumble into "it" through an aligning of very tangible mechanisms. Many, many people of the upper echelons got there "by accident". "Film" is full of stories like this.

Thanks for your comment!