Thunderbirds: Review: Agents’ Technical Manual

By Sam Denham; illustrations by Graham Bleathman

Haynes Publishing, out now

A complete guide to all the craft from the original Thunderbirds TV series. And when we say complete, we mean complete!

There are certain guides to TV shows on the market that go way beyond what any ordinary publisher could expect of a writer: Gary Russell’s Doctor Who Encyclopedia immediately springs to mind. This technical manual for Gerry Anderson’s seminal puppet show Thunderbirds goes straight to the top of that list.

Amalgamating material not just from the 32 broadcast episodes but from the wealth of merchandise and ancillary stories that are connected to the 1960s TV show, you almost wonder where Denham began trying to reconcile all the often-contradictory information. “This has made it a challenging task to completely rationalise every aspect of the series,” Denham writes in his introduction, which has to be one of the understatements of the 21st Century.

Intricate back stories for each character are provided, as well as an authorised account of how exactly International Rescue came into being, before we get into the cut-away diagrams that take designs that were meant to look exciting on screen and make a reality of them. Find out how all the Thunderbird craft fit beneath Tracy Island; exactly what goes where inside each of the Thunderbirds (the name of the craft, not the people – makers of movies, take note!); and how each of the specialised pieces of kit work. Machines that were reworked versions of earlier models are explained as variants on the same basic design. And of course, there’s FAB1 – Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce. A short section at the end details the Mission Files, perhaps the only missed opportunity of the entire book, as these are given alphabetically, rather than in chronological order.

Verdict: If you grew up loving this show – which, given the repeats over the years, means most readers of this site – you are going to be in awe of the detail shown here. An absolute must-buy for any Anderson fan.  10/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Thunderbirds Agents’ Technical Manual from


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