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    TheHound - an irregular round up of toon news and chatter from the uk                    August - 2002

    Thunderbirds, Rainbow, Bob The Builder and
    a still-plodding Tortoise are GO! this month...

  Thunderous News...

  Frakes makes a Thunderbirds
  movie so...

  Bungling Burglar Nabs Zippy
  - By George...

  Geoffrey over the rainbow at
  return of stolen puppets...

  Tortoise Plods On...

  Aardman feature still on after all...

  Bob Builds Some Friends...
  New characters for the HIT show...

 Sites For Sore Eyes...
  No apologies this month...

The Fleetway Interviews
The Fleetway Interviews


      The live-action Thunderbirds movie is finally coming!   Thunderous News!

     Well, this is a BIG bolt from the blue. Are you ready to blast-off for action?
     It seems that Working Title's long-gestating live-action Thunderbirds movie has
     finally been given clearance to 'Go'. That's right, Thunderbirds, in live-action form.
     At last! The film is apparently to be directed by Jonathan Frakes, Commander
     William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation and director of the last two Star Trek
     movies as well as the forthcoming Star Trek: Nemesis and Paramount/Nickelodeon's
     Clockstoppers kids film. Word has it the Thunderbirds picture has been put on the
     fast-track for production next year by Universal and should that be the case it will
     put to bed years of speculation about the proposed feature.

     International Rescue have visited the Big Screen on two previous occasions, of
     course, but on their initial releases both Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6      underperformed for producers UA. That said, both continued to reap a steady
     income on the matinee circuit, even today, thirty+ years on. But a live-action
     adaptation, well that's an entirely different prospect with a whole new set of hurdles
     to clear. That's why it's taken so darn long to progress. Those following the film's
     development will recall that Peter 'Sliding Doors' Hewitt was the last figure in the
     director's chair before the light was dimmed, and casting speculation has included
     both the McGann clan and the Baldwin brothers as the Tracys, and the likes of 
     Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Penelope. So who's up for the cast now? The
     press blurb hasn't said, but The Hound reckons there won't be many, if any, A-list
     stars in the rolecall, given the hefty effects bill for the film...

     What is particularly interesting is how Thunderbirds' honcho Gerry Anderson
     barely gets a look-in on the press releases. Nor Sylvia. Gerry has gone on the
     record before, confirming that he has at best a backseat role in any live-action
     adaptation and that the studio folk don't feel they need him involved in any decision
     making. He's also expressed amusement at the way they've attempted to
     develop material - hiring writers who have never seen the show before, etc.
     The Hound here read those comments like everyone else, assuming a little
     sour grapes at play, or other undercurrents rippling the waters between creator
     and creatives, but any illusion of the studios being in control of their project is
     rocked somewhat when one looks at the blurb that accompanied the recent fanfare
     for the film. The PR campaign tells us that ''Working Title
recently took Thunderbirds
     back to the drawing board to reconceive it as a family film - reflecting the original TV
     series' core audience of kids under 10 - instead of as an adult actioner'
     Erm, come again? - What kind of suited claptrap is this? - No wonder Mr A felt
     at odds with the powers-that-be. I guess that's just the price we have to pay for
     allowing the new wave of Media Studies Graduates to inveigle their way into the
     industry - *sigh*...

     Still, let's not get too negative now. This is interesting, nay exciting news.
     Mr Anderson himself has maintained for years that a live-action adaptation
     of his most-famous series would 'Go' at some point. He has also repeated
     ad-infinitum his loathing for the original string puppets. In an interview
     with SFX magazine a couple of years ago he famously said: 'I spent my whole
     career in puppets trying to get rid of them'
. So he must be pleased that the
     film is finally blasting off
- with or without his input. And so should we. But I will
     just leave you with two words of caution to consider:

     Judge Dredd

     Yeek! - Now there's something to make the kiddies tremble...

     Blast off for more Thunderbirds action on the official series site:


     Bungling burglar nabs Zippy - by George!

      Crikey, now there's a headline and-a-half. But then, July must have felt
      like a month and-a-half for poor Geoffrey Hayes - you know - THE
      Geoffrey from evergreen pre-school favourite Rainbow.
Unless you were
      living down a hole last month, or indeed a contestant on Big Brother,
      you can't fail to have heard about the debacle concerning the stealing
      and subsequent return of the original George Zippy and Bungle costumes
      If you were down that hole, or on that show, here's what's happened:

      Mr Hayes recently spent £3,500 on the the original Bungle costume which
      he bought from Christie's specifically to use as part of his new stage show
      Over The Rainbow, in which he takes an insightful look at his days
      on the kids series. The show's producer Richard Temple owns the original
      George and Zippy costumes and all three were sitting in a trunk in the
      back of a car at a Berkshire service station on the way home from a filming
      session in Bristol when an opportunist thief saw fit to nab the trunk!

      Poor old Geoffrey and Richard were incredibly distressed, of course,
      and both envisaged never seeing the colourful trio again. But then,
      incredibly, a couple of days later the priceless threesome were posted
      back to Mr Temple's office in High St. Kensington. They were in a box
      with a note which read, simply, 'sorry'. So who was the thief, and where
      did the trio go on their travels? - No one knows. But what we do know
      is that Geoffrey and Richard were ecstatic at the return, and Over The
      Rainbow was launched August 2nd at the Edinburgh Fringe as planned,
      with all three puppet co-stars present and correct...

      Which is all jolly decent and splendid, but there is an interesting footnote
      or two, to all this. Firstly, wasn't the timing convenient? - I mean, the trio
      go missing a week before the show launches, and then return safe and well,
      in time for the premiere. And also, weren't the circumstances convenient?
      Apparently, Thames Valley Police have said the theft was never officially
      reported to them. According to Mr Temple's spokesperson, that was because
      the costumes were never properly insured, negating the need for a Crime
      Reference Number. Well, cynical old me is probably putting two-and-two
      together and making five. I mean, Geoffrey certainly appeared to be genuinely
      distressed in all the publicity surrounding the case, so perhaps such
      Conspiracy Theories are unfounded...

      What is indisputably, splendiferously great however is that Mr Geoffrey
      Hayes is finally getting something back for all the effort he put into the series
      over the years - George, Zippy, and Bungle must have weighed around his
      neck like a millstone at times. It's also pleasing to see the three original
      characters safe in the hands of people who truly deserve to have them, and
      are putting them to good use once more, rather than having them stuck behind
      glass in some ridiculous Hard Rock-style restaurant...
      Toonhound, of course, has shamefully overlooked Rainbow in its indexes,
      although Grandma Bricks Of Swallow Street gets a page. And whilst you
      wait with baited breathe for yours truly to correct his error, True Blue-
      Mauve-Indigo-Violet Rainbow aficionados should make their way here: 


      Tortoise plods on...

     Meanwhile over at Aardman Animation, the good news rumbles ever on.
     You probably recall last month the studio announced their new film project
     Flushed Away from the pen of comedy stalwarts Clement LeFrenais. Reports
     suggested that this new tale had bumped the long-delayed Tortoise Vs Hare
     script in to touch indefinitely. Well now, it seems that Aardman are keen to
     clarify the situation and have announced that the Tortoise script is still very
     much a going concern - which is just terrific news.

     Tortoise Vs Hare was/is a take on the eons old Aesop Fable about the race
     between the two critters. It was to be directed by Rex The Runt creator Richard
     Goleszowski from a script by Rob Sprackling and John Smith (Mike Bassett:
     England Manager). The project conjures forth countless splendidly fun scenarios
     to play with, just perfect for the Big Screen so it's jolly exciting to see this one
     still out there for the future.

     Stay tooned to all things Aardman-esque at their official site:

       Bob The Builder - HIT's big hitter...  Bob builds some friends...

      Elsewhere this month chart-star, licensing phenomenon and all-round
      happy labourer Bob The Builder is back in the news. Bob's returning to
      the BBC soon with his sixth season of shows and this time he's bringing
      some new friends along with him. JJ and Molly are a father-daughter team
      of Builder's Merchants, and Skip and Trix are new vehicular buddies.
      Apparently Molly is a particularly keen environmentalist. Ah, but more
      importantly, will she be a rival in love to Bob's unrequited amour Wendy?
      The press releases don't say, but they do tell us that these are the first
      new characters to join the show since it began...

      It's great to see this HIT series going from strength to strength. Indeed,
      things are going so well there's also been an announcement of a second
      Bob The Builder special for launch on homevideo next year. Last year's
      special A Christmas To Remember was a terrific success and featured guest
      voices and characters in the form of Noddy Holder, Elton John, Chris Evans,
      Alison Steadman and Stephen Tompkinson. This new special continues the
      trend and introduces us to Bob's parents, Robert and Dot, to be voiced by
      Richard Briers and June Whitfield. Brenda Blethyn - Gawd bless 'er - is also
      onboard, providing the voice of Doctor Florence Montfitchett. Apparently she's
      a Heritage Expert, and the storyline features medieval castles and jousting.
      Add to that the fact that Bob's Dad is also a bit of a builder, and we can expect
      much conflict between the father-son duo and no doubt Lofty or Dizzy will end
      up having a tilt or two in the process....

      So far HIT's animation studio HOT have produced 104 episodes of the
      top-rated series, and they've plans to make a total of 10 series in all.
      10 series? - That's amazing, especially when one thinks of how far a
      single series can travel. I mean, Bagpuss, Mr Benn, Moschops and
      so many more are still thriving on the back of just 13 episodes...

      Get building with Bob at his official site:


    Toonhound's Pooch... Sites for sore eyes...

     ...Now remember last month when I promised 'no more apologies'?
     Well it seems I have to return to old habits this month, not because I've
     promised things I can't deliver, but rather because I haven't been able to
     deliver as much as I'd hoped. Confused yet? - Let me explain. My lovely
     but-painfully-slow PC has finally hit crunch point. It just keeps crashing,
     allowing conflicts twixt AOL, IE6, Windows, Zonealarm etc. It's made
     updating the site nigh-on impossible without a lot of patience and
     something soft for me to bang my head off repeatedly. But things are
     going to change very soon with the arrival of a new, all-singing, all-dancing
     machine. At least, that's the plan. Once I've sussed out the new set-up
     the updates should return to normal - that means three-to-four times a
     week instead of the current level of two-to-three at most. Of course,
     this is all irrelevant to you anyway, because you've never actually thought
     to check that kind of detail, right? - Oh well, at least you know I'm trying
     here, even if you're not actually aware of the fact...

       Till next time!

Pooch again!    




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