Captain Scarlett! Dum, dum dum du-dum! “Stand By for action!”
Every Saturday Morning Captain Scarlet was beamed into my child sized consciousness, and it’s been etched there ever since.
It was first broadcast in 1967, but was played regularly right up until the late 1980’s. The programmes were produced by Gerry and Sylvyia Anderson, who also made classics like Thunderbirds, Terrahawks, Joe 90 and Stingray.
Captain Scarlet itself was sold and broadcast regularly to 40 other countries, surely making it one of the most watched TV programmed ever created.
Set in 2068, the plot is of the war between Earth and a mysterious Alien race, mysteriously known as…. “The Mysterons“. After a misunderstanding causes human astronauts to destroy a Mysteron settlement, the vengeful Mysterons declare war on Earth. Earth is defended by “Spectrum” that has the remarkable Captain Scarlett heading up the attack - Captain Scarlet has the Mysteron ability to return to life after suffering fatal injury - this of course makes Scarlet "indestructible".
Of course the marionette that played Captain Scarlet was also indestructible. But the irony wasn’t visible to a 6 year old like myself.
There were inevitably, Captain Scarlet dolls and space ships and all manner of other paraphernalia available, none of which I owned. There was also comic strips of the TV programme available in the Anderson-related children's magazine, TV Century 21 - I had a few of those and an annual I think.
Amazingly, in fact astonishingly, the 32 episode series of Captain Scarlet cost £1.5 million in 1967, which is roughly £2000 per minute. And as my father is fond of saying “Money was worth a lot more back then”. that is an amazing amount of money. No wonder they showed these episodes on continual repeat for the next 20 years!