Monday, 24 April 2017
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sylviaandersonSylvia Anderson died at age 88, on 15 March 2016, following a short illness.

Sylvia Beatrice Anderson (née Thomas) was an English television and film producer, writer and voice actress, best known for her collaborations with Gerry Anderson, her husband between 1960 and 1981.

In addition to serving as co-creator and co-writer on their TV series during the 1960s and early 1970s, Anderson's primary contribution was character development and costume design. She regularly directed the bi-weekly voice recording sessions, and provided the voices of many female and child characters, in particular Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds. The Andersons divorced at the start of the 1980s, following a 5-year separation.

Anderson was born in South London, England on 27 March 1927. Her father, Sidney Thomas was a champion boxer and her mother, Beatrice (née Aberdeen) a dressmaker.

After graduating from the London School of Economics with a degree in economics and sociology, she became a social worker. She emigrated to the United States to live with her first husband, an American golfer. While in America, she worked as a journalist.

Returning to the United Kingdom with a daughter, Anderson joined the newly founded and short-lived Polytechnic Films as a secretary in 1957. There, she would meet Gerry Anderson, an editor and director. That year, when Anderson and Arthur Provis created AP Films following Polytechnic's collapse, she joined them on the board of directors of the new company, alongside their colleagues John Read and Reg Hill.

In 1960, the couple married, after which she played a wider role in production duties.

Anderson contributed plot development and voice work for a series of half-hour shows including SuperCar, Stingray and Fireball XL5. However, Anderson felt that the half-hour format was insufficient to fully develop characters and stories, and she persuaded their TV producer Lew Grade to extend their shows to a full hour.

Anderson created the character of Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward.

The Andersons' creative partnership ended when their marriage broke down during the production of the first series of Space: 1999 in 1975.

Gerry announced his intention to separate on the evening of the wrap party, following which Sylvia ceased her involvement with the company, which by this time had twice been renamed and was now called Group Three.

In 1983, she published a novel titled Love and Hisses and in 1994, she reprised her voice role as Lady Penelope for an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. She worked as a London-based talent scout for HBO for 30 years.

Her autobiography Yes M'Lady was first published in 1991; in 2007, it was re-published as My FAB Years with new material to bring it up to date with the latest developments in her life, such as her role as a production consultant for the 2004 live-action film adaptation of Thunderbirds.

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Of the film, Anderson commented, "I'm personally thrilled that the production team have paid us the great compliment of bringing to life our original concept for the big screen. If we had made it ourselves (and we have had over 30 years to do it!) we could not have improved on this new version. It is a great tribute to the original creative team who inspired the movie all those years ago. It was a personal thrill for me to see my characters come to life on the big screen."

My FAB Years was re-released as a spoken CD, narrated by Anderson, in 2010.

In 2013, Anderson worked with her daughter Dee, a jazz singer, on a concept for a new TV series named "The Last Station". They set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for followers to contribute and be a part of the series.

Anderson was also known for her charity work, particularly in support of Breast Cancer Care and Barnardo's. In 2015, Anderson traveled to Italy to receive a Pulcinella Award in recognition of her career in television production.

Sylvia is survived by Dee and Gerry Jr, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

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