Where are they now: The Thunderbirds


Olly Lennard serves up some scalding truth ketchup on your childhood chips. This week: Thunderbirds

International Rescue was a team of highly armed vigilantes who operated out of a South Pacific tax haven called Tracy Island and piloted the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds themselves were five gigantic vehicles, which consumed so much fuel that four of them were classified as environmental crimes. The head of the organisation, Jeff Tracy, had made his millions selling Jacuzzi-fitted toasters and chocolate teapot repair kits. His five sons, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, Scott and John went out on the actual rescue missions while he stayed behind on Tracy Island for extradition reasons. The inventor of the Thunderbirds was Brains, whose thick glasses and speech impediment taught a generation of children that science is thankless and difficult and being intelligent isn’t cool. The family was also served by a single stereotypically Asian manservant, Kyrano, but apart from him they lived in a world where non-white people generally did not exist.

Throughout the 60s the Thunderbirds aided many, though may have contributed significantly to the danger of the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which the USSR attempted to construct their own Thunderbirds close to American soil. Controversy also struck when Thunderbird 2’s water cannons were used against civilians in the 1965 LA riots. When JFK was assassinated in ’63, many reported seeing Thunderbird 1 taking off from the grassy knoll.

In 1968 International Rescue was deployed to Vietnam. The stress was too much for Alan Tracy, who was traumatised by the Tet Offensive and loaded Thunderbird 3 with explosives before piloting it into Saigon, killing thousands. There were also accusations that International Rescue was aiding the Vietcong in setting up a puppet government.

The remaining years were unkind to the Thunderbirds. Virgil Tracy contracted venereal disease from no-strings attached sex, Scott married Lady Penelope who then mortgaged Creighton-Ward Manor following the financial crisis; Gordon inadvertently left Thunderbird 4 parked in a congestion charge zone for three days and was forced to declare bankruptcy, and John asphyxiated when Thunderbird 5 was involved in a collision with George Jetson. Brains now works at the Genius bar in the Apple flagship Store in New York, Thunderbird 2 was clamped when it was found in Camden without a tax disk and the secret location of Tracy Island was exposed following the invention of Google Earth. Gordon went on to pilot Thunderbird 23, which stops at Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Olly Lennard is a second year comedian and actor. You can follow him on Twitter, @OllyLennard.


Illustrator: Ruairidh Bowen


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