The Catacombs The Merchandise Guide
Compiled by Martin Willey

"The Complete Gerry Anderson" by Chris Bentley

The Complete Gerry Anderson

Published by Reynolds and Hearn
First edition April 2003 (softcover, 288 pages)
Second edition May 2005 (hardcover, 320 pages)
Reviewed by Martin Willey

As Chris Bentley says in his foreword, this is a reference guide to Gerry Anderson's complete career- 556 episodes, 4 feature films, plus pilot films and commercials. Chris's earlier Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet books had detailed chapters on production and merchandising, and photo-filled pages; this book is instead an encyclopaedia of episodes, and the only photos are in two short photo sections. The format is smaller too- A5 rather than the large glossy format Carlton books. The Complete Gerry Anderson is also twice as thick. The pages are densely-packed with facts (episode descriptions, with cast lists in sidebars), but the layout is attractive and easy to read.

Like most episode guides, The Complete Gerry Anderson is a book to browse, rather than read straight through. Each episode (2 per page) has a full cast list (including all credited cast as well as extras), date of first UK transmission, a one-paragraph synopses (most plot summaries end in an exclamation mark or ellipses...), a short Notes section (continuity, script changes), and often an "Opps" paragraph (errors). Chris deliberately avoids giving any opinions or interpretation.

Most people will probably read the Opps section first, followed by the Notes and the introduction page to each series. You'll probably find yourself flicking through random pages just to read these notes. They are an excellent companion to the DVD sets; you might even find yourself picking episodes to watch so you can spot the errors. Personally, if I know the story, I never read the synopses. Now that DVDs are readily available, I'd rather watch the episode. The one paragraph length of the episode synopses is just about right; just enough to recognise if you're not sure of the title.

Photo section

Space 1999 is covered in 26 pages (28 in the second edition). There are a few things in the notes I haven't seen before. For instance, in Force Of Life: Former Junior Mr Britain John Hamill (Mark Dominix) was, at the time of production, making a name for himself as the male lead in a series of British sex comedies such as The Over Amorous Artist (1974). Ina Skiver's appearance in The AB Chrysalis seems to be one of many in which she lacked clothes. Guest cast who also appeared in other Anderson series are also identified. The cast list for episodes is unusually complete, although the so-called "Mrs Harris" rule means anonymous extras like Pam Rose and Annie Lambert are among the regulars, while occasional characters like Petrov or Ed Spencer are guest cast.

There are four colour photos in the photo section of the first edition: Aarchon from Voyager's Return; Maya with director Charlie Crichton in The Metamorph; Carla and Logan from Journey To Where; and a bare chested Alan with Kreno animal from A B Chrysalis. In the second edition, there are nine colour photos: a SFX shot of an Eagle from Breakaway, Alan (in pyjamas), Sandra, Jack Tanner, Darian Priest, Balor, bringers of wonder in Command Center, Reilly and Mentor.

For the second edition, there are lists of "uncredited production personnel" for each season. The episode cast lists are a little longer. Both are probably derived from this site! There is also a list of "days since leaving Earth orbit" for Year Two, alongside a strangely located summary of the "original concept" that is expanded a little from the first edition. Otherwise there are only very minor changes to the text. The first edition ignored the compilation movies, but the second edition briefly mentions all five, including the Italian Spazio 1999. In addition, the second edition has much more complete coverage of later Anderson productions, including the first 13 episodes of the new Captain Scarlet series.

There have been many previous episode guides: the nearly identically titled Complete Gerry Anderson Episode Guide by Adam Pirani (1989), Chris Drake's UFO Space 1999 (1994), Roger Fulton's Encyclopaedia of TV Science Fiction (1990 and 1995), the Rogers and Gillis Guide to ITC (1997) and the original of the genre, Gary Gerani's Fantastic Television (1977). The Complete Gerry Anderson succeeds in being the definitive episode guide to date. It cannot and does not set out to compete with books focused on a single series, like Chris Bentley's earlier books, or, for Space 1999, the books by John Muir or Bob Wood. But for a wider appreciation of Anderson's oeuvre, this is the essential reference guide.

Copyright Martin Willey