Terrahawks was a television series first televised in 1983 and created by Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr. It was perhaps an attempt by Anderson to reassert himself in television, having previously found fame through Thunderbirds, Stingray and an assortment of other puppet-based series. However, by the start of the 1980s his stock had fallen somewhat. Terrahawks was therefore something of a gamble, especially as it used new technology in the form of Supermacromation Hand and Radio-controlled puppets. The success of these puppets and the series per se is debatable, but the fact that I and I dare say a great many other children of the 1980s still remember it vividly must say something about it. Incidentally, the series was originally going to be called ‘Thunderhawks’, presumably changed for fear it would be seen as a blatant attempt to revive Thunderbirds.

The bare bones of the plot was fairly typical science fiction fare, but had enough flair and character to give it a real edge. The series was set around 2020 AD. A few years prior to this, on the planet Guk in the Alpha Centauri galaxy, androids are created by the humans there. One of these androids, Zelda, is made a little too well and becomes self-aware. She takes control of all the other androids and wipes out the humans on Guk, becoming in the process the High Queen of Guk. In 2017 she leads an attack on the NASA Expedition Headquarters on Mars, totally destroying it and then setting up a base in its place. Her intention then becomes to wipe out the humans on Earth. In response to this threat, the United Nations High Command decide to set up a secret force who will defend the Earth – the Terrahawks. Appointed as leader is Dr. ‘Tiger’ Ninestein, one of nine clones created by Professor Stein. The Terrahawks comprise of Ninestein along with, Captain Mary Falconer, Lieutenant Hiro, Lieutenant Hawkeye, Captain Kate Kestrel, Sergeant Major Zero, Space Sergeant 101 and the Zeroids. Personally, I don’t remember a lot about the Terrahawks – compared to the bad guys they were pretty bland. Kate Kestrel was also meant to be singer and many an episode would feature her singing some dreadful number.

Over two series and thirty-nine episodes, we then followed the various attempts of Zelda and her androids to invade Earth and the Terrahawks defence of it. Zelda created some androids to aid her, namely Yung-Star, who was sort of her son, and Cy-Star who was ambiguously either Zelda’s sister or daughter. I must say at this point, these three androids and especially Zelda scared the crap out of me as a kid – like REALLY scared me – and there were times I could barely watch. They were all extremely ugly looking and clearly evil (and ate something called “carbon jelly” which just added to the frightening freakishness). Also on their side were the “Cubes”. These were the opposite of the Terrahawks Zeroids who were basically silver balls with eyes and mouths. Sergeant Major Zero and Space Sergeant 101 were glorified Zeroids who would give out commands. The end of every episode would feature a hi-tech game of noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) between Zeroids and Cubes. The Zeroids would always win, except when the Cubes would cheat.

Unfortunately, the series was not as successful as had been hoped, and certainly doesn’t share the same status in the popular consciousness as series such as Thunderbirds (a series I find much duller). However, one does wonder if the producers and writers realised that there was only so far they could take the idea and simply ran out of variations on the same old story. Furthermore, although the puppets used were state-of-the-art at the time, they weren’t that great in that they were almost always filmed from the chest up, with the legs hardly ever revealed and movement generally severely limited. I can forgive this myself because the level of detail of the faces of the androids was quite fantastic. Take me to my Room 101 and Zelda will be there with her carbon jelly.

Voice artist cast: Jeremy Hitchin, Anne Ridler, Denise Bryer, Ben Stevens, Windsor Davies.

Episode List

1. Expect The Unexpected (Part 1) 2. Expect The Unexpected (Part 2) 3. Thunder Roar 4. Close Call 5. From Here To Infinity 6. Space Samurai 7. The Sporilla 8. Happy Madeday 9. Gunfight At Oaky's Corral 10. The Ugliest Monster Of All 11. The Gun 12. Thunder Path 13. Mind Monster 14. To Catch A Tiger 15. The Midas Touch 16. Operation SAS 17. Ten Pop Pop 18. Unseen Menace 19. A Chirstmas Miracle 20. Midnight Blue 21. Play it Again, Sram 22. My Kingdom For A Zeaf 23. Zero's Finest Hour 24. The Ultimate Menace 25. Gold 26. Ma's Monsters 27. Two For The Price Of One 28. Child's Play 29. Jolly Rodger One 30. Runaway 31. First Strike 32. Terrabomb 33. Doppleganger 34. Timewarp 35. Space Cyclops 36. Operation Zero 37. Space Giant 38. Cry UFO 39. Cold Finger

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