THUNDERBIRDS mania is set to take over Mersea when two of the original voice artists and a famed puppeteer visit for a one-off event.

Mary Turner, creator and puppeteer behind the iconic Lady Penelope and Captain Scarlet, will be a VIP guest at Rescue 1 - a fundraiser in aid of the West Mersea RNLI.

Famous islanders Shane Rimmer and Matt Zimmerman, the voices of brothers Scott and Alan Tracy, will return home having lived on Mersea in the Sixties.

Alongside this once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the trio, fans will have access to 15 of the original puppets, vehicles, a lifesize replica of a Dalek and Thunderbirds special effects director Brian Johnson.


Brian Johnson working on a model. Photo: Brian Johnson

Event organiser Graham Farley has been a long-time fan of the show which saw characters take on rescue missions much like the RNLI, he explained.

He said: “I collect, restore and remake puppets and research the subject, and have done for a long time. I loved the Thunderbirds for a long time as a kid and it became a hobby in the last 15 years.

“Through that research I made contact with the original technicians - camera operators, puppeteers, voice artists - and just built up my network.”

Graham, 61, will be hosting Rimmer and Zimmerman, who “love the island”, at his home, and said there are plans for them to visit West Mersea Oyster Bar.

But they are not the only VIPs people might spot at the MICA Centre on March 16.


Mary Turner created some of the iconic puppets. Photo: Graham Farley

He said: “I had a phone call with Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s daughter who runs a production company and she asked to come along. She was around when her parents were filming.

“It will be quite inspirational for the children too. Thunderbirds is the biggest selling kids’s programme on TV right now and is in its third series. So although children now know the CGI version, they will be able to relate to the TV version.”

Losing stars like Jeremy Wilkin in 2018, whose voice became Virgil Tracy, has also motivated Graham.

He said: “Some of these guys behind the show are in their 80s so we won’t have this opportunity again. We’ve also lost a couple of the major actors in recent years so I thought If I don’t do an event now, I will regret it.”

MGM has licensed Graham to show the first Thunderbirds film at the event which will play in the background as workshops and talks take place.

A maximum of 350 tickets are available, bookable here.