Tuesday, 7 December 2010


Copyright relevant owner

Hard as it may be for you to believe, the original name for FIREBALL XL5 was CENTURY 21 - and though remarkably similar to the shape we all know and love, was a silver, sleek and shiny futuristic sky-craft which really did look as if it was a product of the 21st century.  In fact, if memory serves, FIREBALL appeared (or was prepared) as a comic strip in TV COMIC (might've been an annual) before it was broadcast on TV and, although the colours were accurate, the shape of the ship was more in accord with the original Century 21 design by DEREK MEDDINGS.

So why was it changed?  Honest answer -  I don't know, but the first version of the craft looks as if it had been designed today, not back in the early '60s - it hasn't dated at all.  However, you'll just have to take my word for it until I can dig out the relevant source material and scan it for your perusal.

But that's a post for another time.  For the moment, you'll just have to be satisfied with the covers of the four annuals and the GOLD KEY comic from back in the '60s. Fireball XL5 was the only GERRY ANDERSON programme to be broadcast on network TV in America (the others were syndicated), and consequently was the most successful of all the AP/CENTURY 21 productions in that country.

Remember - click on an image to enlarge, then repeat to enlarge again.  As a bonus, here's the box art illustration from the 1963/'64 QUERCETTI parachute toy.


Swing Band - Dominic Halpin and the Honey B's said...

Nice post, I have one of these annuals, not great condition.
I got so hooked on this show I got my band to record the ending theme and then made this Fireball XL5 video to go with it

Kid said...

Fantastic version of the song - astounding video! Extremely entertaining. (Slight continuity glitch in the graphics as to whether Fireball Junior is separated or not, but nothing to sweat over.)

Everyone - you must visit Dominic's site.

Sir Paul said...

Hi Kid,
I may be telling you something you already know, but, Gerry Anderson had a record label too. The name was Century 21 records. When I was a small boy my Mum used to take me into town with her on Market Day, one of the market stalls in the town square sold records. That is where I acquired theme tunes on vinyl of:- Thunderbirds,
Fireball XL5,
Stingray, and strangely(if they were on the same label, which I think they were):- The Beverly Hillbillies,
I Dream of Genie,
Gilligan's Island,
Munsters, and The Addams Family.

Kid said...

Yup, I've got a few original records of the Anderson theme tunes. (As well as having most of them on CD.) Wasn't the world a much better place to be a kid in back then?

If you haven't yet watched Dominic Halpin's XL5 video at the above link, give it a look - it's fantastic.

Anonymous said...

As you said, Fireball XL5 was the only Gerry Anderson show broadcast on a nation-wide network in the USA in the sixties. The others were syndicated, so their distribution was erratic. Oddly, though, fewer Americans seem to remember Fireball XL5 than some of the others. Thunderbirds was rerun on a national network (either Fox or WB) in the 1990s, but, even before that, it seemed to be the most widely remembered of the marionette shows in America.

Kid said...

Interesting. I wonder if that's because of the '60s Thunderbirds movies. Thanks for commenting.

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