This is an extended version of an article which appeared at https://www.gerryanderson.co.uk/ on 28th January 2021 –
60th Anniversary of the first broadcast of Supercar on TV.
Supercar – The Wonder of the Age for Six Decades!
First Broadcast: 28th January 1961
Gerry Anderson TV was a backdrop to my school years in the early 1960s, a favourite when returning home from school. Having seen the programmes from Twizzle, Torchy and Four Feather Falls.. Kaiya Kalamakooya kala kaiya! … and beyond. But my absolute favourite was always Mike Mercury in Supercar!
Supercar is an experimental multi-purpose vertical take-off and landing craft. As well as its ability to fly, Supercar can travel on and under water, on land with a ground effect cushion from its vertical boosters, and even go into space. It is designed to perform a range of missions including search and rescue. Supercar is based at the Supercar team base in the remotely located Black Rock Laboratory within Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.
Well… there she is Mike….Supercar! [YouTube Episode 1 (3:25)]
… exclaimed by Professor Popkiss to Mike Mercury as Supercar is finishing a ground test in the first episode still sends tingles through my spine. The tech details were really appealing to my interests in science, engineering and aerospace. All the procedures for the familiar Gerry Anderson “launch sequence” began in Supercar…
Charging port engine, …, 9000, 12000, 15000, interlock on, Fire One
There are lots of superb details. I like the one where Dr. Beaker is examining a Supercar engines test and commenting on the crazing of the ceramic material of the blast shield. Reg Hill did a fine job of designing Supercar and giving it exciting capabilities on land, under the sea, in the air and even into space.
The sound effects for Supercar startup and flight added much to the atmosphere and Barry Gray’s music added a lot to all the Gerry Anderson TV series.. and Supercar has a very rich repertoire of themes and incidental music. The “Mike Mercury March” (aka “Mike’s Theme”) played as Supercar races to the scene of another rescue is wonderful.
While still at school I was so keen that I arranged a petition and got thousands of signatures from locals to send to ITV and AP Films to ask them to produce more episodes and show Supercar more on TV.
Having seen adverts in TV Comic, I was an early member of the Supercar Club which had a tie up with National Benzole “Super National” petrol and produced a flexi-disc with a Supercar story along with the Supercar theme and more Barry Gray music. I still smile when I remember my dad pulling into a National station to fill up, and as we drove away he accelerated fast and shouted out “zooooom”. The annuals each year, several Shipton Plastics “Plaston” PVC models (which we floated in our fish pond and tried to film in action in front of a back projection sheet), Budgie diecast Supercars and more merchandise followed. My dad, who had been in the Royal Navy, even got me a captain style peaked cap like Mike Mercury wore which I mounted my Supercar wings on.
It is wonderful that over the years since then we have been able to get the whole 39 episodes of Supercar from Series One and Series Two on DVD and that many new merchandising items and fan produced materials have appeared to keep the contents alive.
When Supercar was still on air in the early 1960s, I was taken by my dad to a TV trade show at Earls Court on London, as he ran a TV retail and repair store. And as we went around I heard a loud announcement that “Anything can happen in the next half hour”! Turning round to the big screen just in time to see the black and white image turn to COLOUR and STINGRAY appear. So there was plenty to look forward to, even though Supercar remained my interest.
A number of scientists and engineers have noted how they were influenced in their career choices and areas of interest from watching early Gerry Anderson programmes. And so it was in my case too. The Black Rock Laboratory team under Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker created Supercar (fictionally) using a grant from the US Air Force and their research people. Reality can follow fiction… I have (in real life) received research funding for my Artificial Intelligence work on planning, command and control of spacecraft and in search and rescue applications from the US Air Force Research Laboratory and the US Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) using the very same research mechanism that funded the X-15 rocket plane (and, one imagines, Supercar).
I have been fortunate to be part of the international community who continue to enjoy Gerry Anderson TV and work with some very creative people all round the world who are also very interested in Supercar over the years.
60 years later and Supercar is still in my life via the detailed and accurate 3D models produced 25 years ago with friends and collaborators around the globe and still looking good today as computer graphics have improved. The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators.
Mick Imrie in the UK in the late 1990s created Supercar and Black Rock Laboratory 3D computer models, originally in Cinema4D and subsequently ported by others in the Gerry Anderson Model Makers Alliance (GA-MMA) to Studio 3D Max, Lightwave, etc. See Supercar 3D Model – Mick Imrie and Austin Tate – 1998
Shane Pickering, a graphic artist and private pilot in New Zealand, in the late 1990s worked on schematics and internal details for Supercar compatible with the TV shows and annuals. See Supercar Schematics – Shane Pickering and Austin Tate – 1999.
Brian Douglas, a Microsoft Flight Simulator enthusiast in the UK, worked with me in 2003 to improve the visual appearance and flight dynamics for the earlier versions of Supercar for Flight Simulator I had created. Iain Murray and I worked to improve my earlier Black Rock Laboratory scenery for Flight Simulator. See Supercar for Flight Simulator – 1996-2003.
Kez Wilson at Misc!Mayhem in Texas created the Supercar Comic published in 2003, working with script writer Michael Wolff, and I was happy to help with its production using our 3D models used to get accurate outlines for rotascoping of some image panels. I met up with Kez and Graydon Gould, the voice of Mike Mercury, at a Fanderson event that same year. Kez and I created a Supercar Club 2000 to give new resources to fellow fans. See Supercar Comic – Kez Wilson and Michael Wolff – 2001-2003.
Playing Mantis in the USA produced the Johnny Lighting miniature diecast Supercar models originally in 2001 with colouring reflecting “The Little Golden Book” drawn images. Working with their designer Alan Pletcher I was able to give a little input to improve the later versions for colour and details to better reflect Supercar as seen on TV. I was fortunate to get deliveries of each new variant and limited edition that came out over the following years.
I have also had fun interactions with Martin Woodhouse (who along with his brother Hugh wrote the stories for Supercar series one), Dirk Maggs and some of the good folks at Fanderson.
The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators. See Supercar for Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality.
Roof Doors Open!
More info, computer models and images: http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/~bat/GA/supercar.html
Supercar at 60 in OpenSimulator
Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box
Availability March 2021 – Anderson Entertainment – Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box (alternative URL: http://andr.sn/supercar60). Limited to 300 units worldwide. Reversable DVD cover art by Chris Thompson (who also did the Pilot’s Licence Replica artwork) and new artwork by Lee Sullivan and Tim Keable. The replica Supercar Licence is individually numbered (my set was 60 277). Note the spacing of “Made Expressly for THE SUPER CAR CLUB” on the backing card for the Supercar Wings badge. As confirmed by Jamie Anderson, this is a deliberate nod to the original backing card from the maker… J.R. GAUNT & SON LTD (Ribbon Makers).
Supercar has been remastered in High Definition from original 35mm film elements and released in August 2021 on Blu-ray along with a paperback book, new comic, pilot’s licence and golden wings badge in a special 60th Anniversary Box Set.!