Stingray (1964 TV series)
Stingray is a British children's Supermarionation television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by AP Films for Associated Television and ITC Entertainment between 1964 and 1965. Its 39 half-hour episodes were originally broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom and in syndication in the United States and Canada.
|Created by||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||39 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||AP Films|
|Picture format||35 mm (Eastmancolor)|
|Original release||4 October 1964– 27 June 1965|
|Preceded by||Fireball XL5|
The series was written by the Andersons, Alan Fennell and Dennis Spooner. Its music was composed by Barry Gray and its special effects were directed by Derek Meddings. It was filmed in Eastmancolor at a cost of approximately £1 million.
Stingray was the first Supermarionation series to feature marionette characters with interchangeable heads that enabled them to show a variety of expressions. It was also the first British TV series to be filmed entirely in colour, primarily to increase its appeal to the lucrative American market.
Stingray, a nuclear-powered combat submarine built for speed and manoeuvrability, is the flagship of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP), a branch of the World Security Patrol (WSP) responsible for policing the Earth's oceans in the mid-2060s.[Note 1] The vessel is armed with "sting missile" torpedoes and can travel at up to 600 knots (1,100 km/h) underwater, while its pressure compensators allow it to reach depths of over 36,000 feet (11 km).
The WASP's base is Marineville, located several miles inland somewhere on the West Coast of North America. It is connected to the Pacific Ocean via a tunnel leading to an "ocean door", through which Stingray is launched. Alerts such as "action stations", "launch stations", and "battle stations" are sounded by rapid drum beats that are played over the base's public address system. In emergency situations, the entire base is lowered into underground bunkers on giant hydraulic jacks while interceptor missiles and fighter aircraft are launched to counter threats. WASP personnel acknowledge commands with the phrase "P.W.O.R." – short for "Proceeding With Orders Received".
Stingray is piloted by the square-jawed Captain Troy Tempest. He is paired with Southern navigator Lieutenant George Lee Sheridan, nicknamed "Phones" for his role as Stingray's hydrophone operator. Troy and Phones board Stingray by sitting on twin injector seats in Marineville's stand-by lounge, which are lowered into the vessel via injector tubes and then clamped into place. They answer to the crusty "hoverchair"-bound Commander Sam Shore, whose daughter, Lieutenant Atlanta Shore, takes shifts in the Marineville control tower and is enamoured of Troy.
At the start of the series, the WASP learns that the ocean floor is home to many underwater civilisations. Among these is the city of Titanica – whose tyrannical ruler, King Titan, commands a brutal warrior race called the Aquaphibians and possesses a fleet of lethal submersibles known as "Mechanical Fish" (referred to as "Terror Fish" in tie-in media). In the first episode, Stingray is attacked by Titan's forces and Troy and Phones are captured. They are rescued by Titan's slave, Marina, a mute young woman from the undersea city of Pacifica who can breathe underwater. Marina returns to Marineville with Troy and Phones and becomes a regular member of the Stingray crew. Troy becomes infatuated with her, making Atlanta jealous. Meanwhile, Titan, furious at Marina's betrayal, vows revenge on "terraineans" (land people) in general and Troy and the WASP in particular.
Many later episodes revolve around Titan's schemes to destroy Stingray and Marineville; however, these usually fail due to the incompetence of his spy on land, Surface Agent X-2-0. Based on the Pacific island of Lemoy, X-2-0 lives in a dilapidated house whose walls conceal banks of highly-sophisticated surveillance and tracking equipment. Other episodes feature encounters with other races living under the sea or within the Earth, some friendly and others hostile, or investigation of natural phenomena.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date (ATV London) ||Prod.|
|1||"Stingray"[Note 2]||Alan Pattillo||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson||4 October 1964||1|
|When a World Navy submarine is mysteriously destroyed, Troy and Phones are assigned to investigate. However, they are captured by the Aquaphibians and sentenced to life imprisonment in the undersea penal complex of Aquatraz by Titan of Titanica.|
|2||"Emergency Marineville"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||11 October 1964||11|
|A series of unsuccessful missile attacks against Marineville leads to the Stingray crew needing to sabotage the culprits' attempt to evade WASP's interceptor rockets.|
|3||"The Ghost Ship"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||18 October 1964||8|
|Commander Shore and Phones are held hostage by a plundering villain. Troy tries to find a way to rescue to his friends even it means disobeying Commander Shore's orders.|
|4||"Subterranean Sea"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||25 October 1964||12|
|The Stingray crew brave the perils of a newly discovered underground sea when their vacation leave is cancelled.|
|5||"Loch Ness Monster"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||1 November 1964||13|
|Troy, Phones and Atlanta are sent to Scotland to solve the mystery of Nessie once and for all.|
|6||"Set Sail for Adventure"||David Elliott||Dennis Spooner||8 November 1964||30|
|A storm injures an admiral on his sailing vessel, causing him to lose his memory and turn his cannons on Stingray.|
|7||"The Man from the Navy"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||15 November 1964||19|
|Agent X-2-Zero sabotages a Navy Captain's test missile by loading it with real explosives. With the officer facing a court-martial at the hands of Commander Shore, it is up to Troy to prove the man's innocence.|
|8||"An Echo of Danger"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||22 November 1964||25|
|Agent X-2-Zero plots to damage Phones's reliability by creating false underwater soundings.|
|9||"Raptures of the Deep"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||29 November 1964||16|
|Troy's dwindling air supply causes him to fall unconscious while on a rescue mission. Delirious, he dreams about life in a fantasy world where his friends are his loyal servants.|
|10||"Titan Goes Pop"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||6 December 1964||29|
|Agent X-2-Zero kidnaps a pop star visiting Marineville and brings him before Titan as hostage.|
|11||"In Search of the Tajmanon"||Desmond Saunders||Dennis Spooner||13 December 1964||28|
|Troy and Phones encounter an old enemy when they try to find the submerged temple of Tajmanon in Africa.|
|12||"A Christmas to Remember"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||20 December 1964||37|
|While Troy decides to help the orphaned son of a dead WASP aquanaut at Christmas, Phones is captured by an enemy warrior and forced to lay a trap for his comrade.|
|13||"Tune of Danger"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||27 December 1964||31|
|Agent X-2-Zero makes plans to ruin a jazz group's performance in Marina's father's home undersea city with a bomb.|
|14||"The Ghost of the Sea"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||3 January 1965||10|
|Commander Shore relives the ordeal that left him paralysed when construction on a new cobalt mining rig is completed.|
|15||"Rescue from the Skies"||Desmond Saunders||Dennis Spooner||10 January 1965||32|
|Troy must be lowered onto Stingray from the air after Agent X-2-Zero plants a bomb on the craft's hull while a lieutenant uses it for target practice.|
|16||"The Lighthouse Dwellers"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||17 January 1965||38|
|Troy and Phones investigate after a signal from a disused lighthouse confuses a pilot and causes him to crash his aircraft.|
|17||"The Big Gun"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||24 January 1965||6|
|After Stingray destroys two attacking submarines, Troy, Phones and Marina stumble across their source - the underwater city of Solarstar. They aim to foil the Solistans before they can obliterate the West Coast of America.|
|18||"The Cool Cave Man"||Alan Pattillo||Alan Fennell||31 January 1965||33|
|While asleep, Troy dreams of a meeting between him and a group of undersea cavemen who have looted the cargo of a vessel ferrying radioactive material.|
|19||"Deep Heat"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||7 February 1965||27|
|Venturing into the base of a volcano to investigate the disappearance of a robotic probe, Troy and Phones are captured by two survivors from a ruined city.|
|20||"Star of the East"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||14 February 1965||24|
|An Eastern dictator called El Hudat wishes to join the World Aquanaut Security Patrol - but kidnaps Marina after he is overthrown in his home country.|
|21||"Invisible Enemy"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||21 February 1965||26|
|Troy and Phones save an unconscious man - unaware that he is trying to leave Marineville open to attack by subduing personnel with a self-induced hypnotic trance.|
|22||"Tom Thumb Tempest"||Alan Pattillo||Alan Fennell||28 February 1965||21|
|Troy falls asleep in the Standby Room and dreams about shrinking in size and witnessing a meeting between the undersea races in which they finalise their plans to destroy Marineville.|
|23||"Eastern Eclipse"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||7 March 1965||36|
|Agent X-2-Zero frees the wicked former dictator El Hudat from the Marineville brig by replacing him with his twin brother.|
|24||"Treasure Down Below"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||14 March 1965||5|
|When Stingray becomes trapped in a whirlpool, the crew must face off against undersea pirates.|
|25||"Stand by for Action"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||21 March 1965||17|
|Agent X-2-Zero poses as a film director in his latest scheme to eliminate Troy.|
|26||"Pink Ice"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||28 March 1965||22|
|Stingray becomes ensnared in a patch of pink slush created by an unidentified vessel.|
|27||"The Disappearing Ships"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||4 April 1965||18|
|Three disused freighters that are due to self-destruct disappear in mysterious circumstances.|
|28||"Secret of the Giant Oyster"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||11 April 1965||15|
|Troy is assigned to recover a beautiful pearl from the seabed, but the task is not as straightforward as it seems.|
|29||"The Invaders"||David Elliott||Dennis Spooner||18 April 1965||14|
|The Stingray crew is captured by undersea villains and interrogated for information on Marineville's defence systems.|
|30||"A Nut for Marineville"||David Elliott||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson||25 April 1965||34|
|An eccentric professor is brought in to develop a super missile which is Marineville's only hope of destroying an indestructible undersea craft.|
|31||"Trapped in the Depths"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||2 May 1965||35|
|An insane professor kidnaps Atlanta and steals Stingray with the intention of destroying Marineville.|
|32||"Count Down"||Alan Pattillo||Dennis Spooner||9 May 1965||9|
|Agent X-2-Zero masquerades as a teacher for mute people in a plot to destroy Marineville, leaving Marina in mortal danger.|
|33||"Sea of Oil"||John Kelly||Dennis Spooner||16 May 1965||3|
|While probing the destruction of an oil rig with Troy and Phones, Atlanta is captured by undersea warriors.|
|34||"Plant of Doom"||David Elliott||Alan Fennell||23 May 1965||2|
|Outraged that his slave Marina assisted Troy and Phones in their escape from Aquatraz, Titan plots his revenge by ordering surface agent X-2-Zero to deliver a toxic plant to her father.|
|35||"The Master Plan"||John Kelly||Alan Fennell||30 May 1965||23|
|Troy is poisoned by Aquaphibians and the sole owner of the required antidote is Titan - who demands Marina in exchange for saving Troy's life.|
|36||"The Golden Sea"||John Kelly||Dennis Spooner||6 June 1965||7|
|Titan hears of the work of scientists converting sea minerals to gold and plans to sabotage their efforts.|
|37||"Hostages of the Deep"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||13 June 1965||4|
|An aquatic alien kidnaps a World Navy admiral and his wife.|
|38||"Marineville Traitor"||Desmond Saunders||Alan Fennell||20 June 1965||20|
|All the signs point to Commander Shore after an essential component vanishes from Marineville Control.|
|39||"Aquanaut of the Year"||Alan Pattillo||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson||27 June 1965||39|
|Clip show episode: Troy is amazed to receive the prestigious "Aquanaut of the Year" award and sits before a TV audience as a selection of his adventures are recounted as flashbacks. Features clips from "Emergency Marineville", "Raptures of the Deep" and "Subterranean Sea".|
- Special episodes
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|"Stingray"||Alan Pattillo||Alan Pattillo||Unaired|
|The main characters, joined by Admiral Denver, review some of Stingray's most dangerous missions. A 99-minute feature presentation, created for Japanese TV executives in 1963, comprising four complete episodes: "Stingray", "An Echo of Danger", "Raptures of the Deep" and "Emergency Marineville".|
|"The Reunion Party"||Alan Pattillo and John Kelly||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Dennis Spooner, Alan Fennell and Alan Pattillo||2 January 2008|
|A 29-minute condensed reconstruction of the 1963 feature presentation, excluding the material from "Raptures of the Deep". Created in collaboration with BBC Wales. First broadcast as part of "Thunderbirds Night" on BBC Four on 2 January 2008.|
- Compilation films
Between 1980 and 1981, two compilation films were produced. Each of these comprised re-edited versions of four of the original episodes. The films were produced for the American market and aired in the United States as part of an ITC Entertainment package titled "Super Space Theater"; other Supermarionation series were given similar treatments. On 24 November (Thanksgiving) 1988, the second Stingray compilation feature, Invaders from the Deep, appeared as the first broadcast episode of movie-mocking TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the US.
|The Incredible Voyage of Stingray||"Stingray", "Plant of Doom", "Count Down" and "The Master Plan"||1980|
|Invaders from the Deep||"Hostages of the Deep", "Emergency Marineville", "The Big Gun" and "Deep Heat"||1981|
- Captain Troy Tempest: Captain of the WASP's main submarine, Stingray (voiced by Don Mason). He was made Aquanaut of the Year in one episode, for his fearlessness and bravery.
- Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan: Stingray's co-pilot hydrophone operator (voiced by Robert Easton) He is Troy's loyal best friend. (Phones' real name, George Sheridan, is referred to in the series' publicity material but is not mentioned on-screen.)
- Marina: - A mute mermaid (though in one episode is voiced by Sylvia Anderson), who once was the slave for Titan and princess of the undersea race of friendly Pacificans. In the first episode she helped Troy and Phones escape from Titan.
- Commander Samuel "Sam" Shore: Commander of the WASP base at Marineville (voiced by Ray Barrett). He is a widower and confined to a hoverchair. He is also the father of Atlanta Shore. The reason for his disability is revealed in the episode "The Ghost of the Sea": as a security agent for a deep-sea mining platform, he was injured when a hostile submersible attacked the facility and damaged his patrol craft. He managed to ram the enemy in return, and then escape to the surface, but in so doing lost the use of his legs.
- Lieutenant Atlanta Shore: Control Tower Lieutenant (voiced by Lois Maxwell). She works with her father, Commander Shore. She is also Troy's love interest.
- Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher: An eager young Lieutenant (voiced by Ray Barrett). He works in the control tower with Commander Shore and Lieutenant Atlanta. In the episode "Rescue from the Skies" he is seen training to be an aquanaut.
- King Titan of Titanica: Ruthless ruler of the undersea race of the Aquaphibians from Titanica (voiced by Ray Barrett). In the Pilot episode he captures Troy and Phones but they escape thanks to his slave Marina helping them.
- Surface Agent X-2-Zero: Surface agent who lives on the island of Lemoy, near Marineville, and reports directly to Titan (voiced by Robert Easton). He is often blamed by Titan when things go wrong in Titan's plans.
- The Aquaphibians: Titan's minions. Their voices were supplied by Robert Easton and David Graham aided by a looped tape recording of bubbling water.
- Oink the Seal: A seal pup (voiced by David Graham). He joins the Stingray crew as Marina's pet after saving them from a bomb.
- Marineville Tracking Station operative: An early warning system that alerts Marineville of aerial attacks and unidentified vessels and aircraft in the area (voiced in most episodes by David Graham, and 1 episode by Lois Maxwell).
- Marineville Power Plant Technician: Controls when Marineville goes into Battle Stations Mode (voiced by Ray Barrett).
- Doc: Marineville's main Doctor (voiced by David Graham).
- Admiral Jack Denver: He is president of the WASP underwater research division (voiced by David Graham). He went to college with Commander Shore and enjoys debating with him.
- WSP Commanders: Three World Security Patrol Commanders (voiced by Don Mason, Robert Easton, Ray Barrett and David Graham). They all appear in different episodes to brief Commander Shore.
|Voice actor||Main Hero Characters||Main Enemy characters||Recurring and Guest characters|
|Don Mason||Captain Troy Tempest (speaking)||N/A||Various Supporting Characters|
|Robert Easton||Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan||Surface Agent X-2-Zero||Various Supporting Characters|
|Ray Barrett||Commander Samuel "Sam" Shore
Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher
|King Titan of Titanica||Power Plant Technician|
Various Supporting Characters
|Lois Maxwell||Lieutenant Atlanta Shore||N/A||Various Supporting Characters|
Marineville Tracking Station
Admiral Jack Denver
Various Supporting Characters
|Gary Miller||Troy Tempest (singing voice only)||N/A||N/A|
|Sylvia Anderson||N/A||N/A||Two episodes—uncredited|
Marina is unique among Supermarionation characters in that she has no dialogue. In the episode "Raptures of the Deep" she appears to communicate telepathically with Troy (her thoughts voiced by Sylvia Anderson), but this is later revealed to be a part of a dream that Troy experienced while delirious, having passed out underwater due to a lack of oxygen. In the dream sequence in question, Marina's lips do not move because her puppet was not equipped with a speech mechanism.
As filming on Fireball XL5 came to an end in late 1962, producer Gerry Anderson considered a series set underwater to be the next logical step for AP Films: "We had been on land and in space, so where could we go next? One possibility was underwater." He was inspired by childhood memories of U-boats in the Second World War, as well as by the mysteries of the ocean: "I was ... fascinated by trenches in the ocean that are as deep as mountains are high. There are features that man has never seen and pressures that are almost impossible to withstand. I began to wonder if there were areas of the Earth which had been little explored and felt justified in writing some wacky stuff."
Lew Grade, who had been financing APF since the production of Supercar and had bought the company following the commercial success of Fireball XL5, approved the new concept and commissioned 26 episodes. Anderson named the series "Stingray" in part due to a mistaken belief that stingrays are dangerous animals, but also because it "seemed an exciting title."
In preparation for the new series, APF moved to larger facilities on a different part of the Slough Trading Estate at a cost of £75,000 (approximately £1.44 million in 2016). The new studios, built inside a factory unit, were located half a mile from the site where APF had filmed Four Feather Falls, Supercar and Fireball XL5. They contained three shooting stages, each measuring 40 by 45 feet (12 m × 14 m): two for puppet filming and one for special effects filming.
Production began in the spring of 1963 and the series was completed in ten months, with each episode taking an average of 16.5 days to film. The total cost of the production was approximately £1 million (approximately £19.22 million in 2016). It was budgeted at £20,000 (approximately £384,000 in 2016) per episode, which enabled APF, whose earlier productions had been in black and white, to film in Eastmancolor.[Note 3] The switch to colour filming was intended to increase the series' chances of being bought by a network in the United States, where colour TV broadcasts were already common. Sets were re-painted after NBC supplied APF with a list of colours believed to cause problems such as flaring or bleeding; according to Anderson, this was unnecessary because if filmed in Eastmancolour, a set "would appear on screen exactly as you had painted it." Nevertheless, some colours were avoided as they did not come out well in black and white. During the production of Stingray, APF became the largest consumer of colour film in the UK.
As filming progressed, Grade extended his commission to 39 episodes. As shooting on the final 13 episodes commenced, Don Mason and Robert Easton, who had been told that all members of the voice cast were being paid the same amount, discovered that they were actually earning less than their co-star David Graham. Mason and Easton did not commit to the remaining episodes until their fees had been re-negotiated.
In a first for a Supermarionation series, Stingray features a Christmas-themed episode ("A Christmas to Remember") and a clip show final episode. The latter, "Aquanaut of the Year", incorporates elements from the documentary series This Is Your Life, which required APF to obtain the approval of its creator, Ralph Edwards. With negotiations between Edwards and APF taking longer than expected, work commenced on an alternative series finale in which Commander Shore and Admiral Denver view highlights from a selection of Stingray's missions on a film projector; however, the production of this episode was halted when Edwards gave APF permission to proceed with "Aquanaut of the Year". The linking material from the abandoned episode was re-discovered in either 2000 or 2001 and subsequently included on Stingray DVD releases. Several years later, it was combined with footage from "Stingray", "An Echo of Danger", and "Emergency Marineville" to create a new 29-minute clip show titled "The Reunion Party", which was first broadcast in 2008.
Characters and puppetsEdit
Gerry Anderson said that the character of Phones was inspired by a sound engineer with whom he used to work: "He spent so long with his headphones plugged in to various bits of equipment that he used to leave them on all the time, earning himself the nickname 'Phones'." Voice actor Robert Easton based the character's Southern American tones on his performance in the 1961 film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in which he had played a Southern radio operator called Sparks. The voice of Surface Agent X-2-0 was Easton's impression of actor Peter Lorre, who had appeared in the same film.
Sylvia Anderson, who had voiced the regular character Dr Venus on Fireball XL5 and was credited for "characterisation supervision" for Stingray, stated in her 2007 autobiography that she devised Marina as mute because she wanted to take a break from voice acting and "concentrate on the scripts and characters". The Aquaphibians were based on a villainous alien from the Fireball XL5 episode "XL5 to H2O".
The process of designing and making the puppets took four months and each of the main characters was sculpted in duplicate to allow two episodes to be filmed simultaneously using both puppet stages. The likenesses of some of the puppets were inspired by real-life actors: Titan was based on a young Laurence Olivier and Surface Agent X-2-0 on either Claude Rains or Peter Lorre. Troy Tempest was modelled on James Garner at Gerry Anderson's suggestion. Atlanta Shore has been likened to Lois Maxwell (who voiced the character) and Marina to both Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress.
Stingray was the first Supermarionation series to feature puppets with glass eyes and poseable hands (both specially made by outside contractors) for greater realism. To make the puppets' eyes sparkle in a lifelike way, they were polished with silicon and illuminated using an "eye light" (a small lamp). Another innovation was the creation of alternative heads to allow puppets to express emotions: in addition to their "normal" heads, which had neutral expressions, the main characters could also be fitted with "smiling" and "frowning" heads. The wigs of female puppets were made of human hair; for male puppets, mohair was used as it was softer and easier to style.
Design and effectsEdit
The Stingray submarine was designed by Reg Hill and built by Feltham-based company Mastermodels. The Marineville model, which was created in-house, was made of wood and cardboard augmented with pieces of model kits purchased from a toy shop. It was lowered and raised by hydraulics.
The series' underwater scenes were filmed not in a water tank, as Anderson had originally envisaged, but by shooting a model of the ocean floor, mounted against a cyclorama, through a thin aquarium and "flying" the puppets and miniature models across the set on wires from an overhead gantry. A similar technique had been used for the underwater scenes in Supercar. Several aquaria were used; constructed by a company that supplied fish tanks to London Zoo, they were re-built with thicker glass after one of them burst due to the water pressure. Wires were painted over to make them non-reflective, while vegetable dye was added to the aquaria to give the water a murky appearance. Fans were used to simulate currents passing over characters' hair and clothing.
The illusion of scenes being set underwater was enhanced by populating the aquaria with tropical fish of various sizes to create forced perspective. Fish food was dropped at various points around the aquaria to keep the animals in shot. A disc with various portions cut out was mounted in front of a lamp and rotated to simulate light being refracted through the ocean surface, while the water inside the aquaria was disturbed to create "ripple" effects. For the conclusion of the Stingray launch sequence, in which the submarine shoots out of an underwater tunnel, part of the set was painted onto the aquarium to conceal the air line that was used to produce the accompanying bubbles. The move away from black-and-white filming was sometimes problematic as build-ups of algae caused the water in the aquaria to change colour.
Water surface shots in Supercar and Fireball XL5 had been filmed in a single outdoor water tank, but for Stingray a number of tanks were built inside the studio. As the crew were unable to use lighting effects to make the water look blue, it was dyed to give it a realistic colour. Various powders were added to create whitewater and foam effects for undersea explosions and storm scenes. Miniature models were controlled using wires, poles and underwater tracks and rigs.
Each tank incorporated a weir system whereby one or more walls, including the back wall, were built lower and the tank was filled to a higher level to create waterfalls. With the camera mounted at water level, this produced an artificial horizon at the back of the tank. The overflowing water was collected in troughs and then pumped back into the tank to keep the water level constant and sustain the effect. To conserve studio space, some scenes were filmed in a wedge-shaped tank that was built to match the field of view of the camera. One of the effects shots in the opening titles, featuring a complex manoeuvre in which Stingray and a pursuing Mechanical Fish leaping out of the sea, was filmed in a single take.
Shots of aircraft in flight were filmed using a technique known as the "rolling sky", whereby the miniature model remained stationary and an illusion of movement was created by continuously running a loop of painted canvas background around two electrically-driven rollers. This system, devised by effects director Derek Meddings, made aerial shots easier to film as it took up little studio space.
Opening and closing titlesEdit
The title sequence consists of a series of action shots featuring undersea explosions, Marineville going to red alert and Stingray being launched to do battle with a Mechanical Fish. This is accompanied by dramatic narration from the character of Commander Shore, who warns the audience to "Stand by for action!" and declares that "Anything can happen in the next half-hour!" In the first 26 episodes, the title sequence opens in black and white before switching to colour; for the final 13 episodes, the first few seconds were replaced with all-colour footage.
Jim Sangster and Paul Condon, authors of Collins Telly Guide, praise the opening titles, writing that "Of all the programmes we've looked at for this book, there is none with a title sequence as thrilling as Stingray." According to John Peel, the Stingray title sequence contrasts greatly with those of Supercar and Fireball XL5, which he describes as "straight narrative openings". Peel also argues that Stingray has influenced the "rapid cutting, pounding rhythms and extreme stylising" of subsequent TV title sequences.
The series' closing titles focus on the love triangle between Atlanta, Troy, and Marina, with Troy singing "Aqua Marina" – a song about his romantic feelings for Marina, performed by Gary Miller with backing vocals by soprano Joan Brown – while Atlanta gazes wistfully at his photograph.
In the UK, Stingray was first broadcast on 4 October 1964 in the Anglia, Border, Grampian, London and Southern regions. Although it received little publicity it replicated the success of earlier Supermarionation series. Having debuted in black and white, it was transmitted in colour for the first time in December 1969. It was repeated on ITV in 1981 and BBC2 in the early 1990s. It was also shown on Sky One from 2002 to 2003.
In the US, the series was first broadcast in 1965. Premiering in colour, it was syndicated across more than 100 markets with total sales exceeding £3 million. Sci-Fi Channel aired the series between 1992 and 1997 as part of its "Sci-Fi Cartoon Quest" programming block.
Stingray was featured in the Supermarionation tie-in comic TV Century 21 from its first issue, published by AP Films (Merchandising) in January 1965. The 1960s also saw the publication of two original novels by Armada Books: Stingray and Stingray and the Monster, written by John William Jennison under the pseudonym "John Theydon".
Coinciding with the revival of the show on BBC2, a self-titled Stingray comic was launched in 1993 and ran until 1995, published by Fleetway Publications. The strips featured were direct reprints from TV Century 21 with minimal new content such as competitions and letter pages. In 1995 the comic was cancelled and the remaining Stingray strips were featured in the then ongoing Thunderbirds comic until it's eventual cancellation.
- Audio episodes
To supplement the 39 TV episodes, in 1965 AP Films (Merchandising) released three "audio adventures" as 7-inch vinyl EP records (marketed as "mini-albums"). These audio episodes, each running to approximately 21 minutes and featuring the voice cast from the TV series, are included as special features on the UK Stingray DVD box set.
|Title ||Code ||Written by ||Produced by |
|"Into Action With Troy Tempest"||MA 101||Alan Fennell||Desmond Saunders|
|While investigating the disappearance of a submarine, the crew of Stingray find themselves trapped in a subterranean sea that later becomes a desert. This audio episode combines the plots of the TV episodes "Stingray", "Deep Heat" and "Subterranean Sea".|
|"A Trip to Marineville"||MA 102||Alan Fennell||Desmond Saunders|
|Troy gives a young boy a tour of Marineville.|
|"Marina Speaks"||MA 104||Sylvia and Gerry Anderson||Desmond Saunders|
|Atlanta discovers a letter written by Marina which explains how her people came to be mute.|
"Marina Speaks" reveals that Marina is in fact not mute at all. In fact, her race has been cursed by Titan – should any one of them speak, another will die. They are not certain that this is true, but none of them dares find out; thus, for years they have lived in complicit silence.
Media historian Marcus Hearn argues that Stingray essentially "[transfers] the format of Fireball XL5 to an underwater setting." Writing in 2006, Robert Sellers described Stingray as the "first truly classic Anderson show", whose special effects "have stood the test of time remarkably well." Daniel O'Brien, author of SF:UK: How British Science Fiction Changed the World, considers it to be "perhaps the archetypal Gerry Anderson series".
Reviewing the DVD box set in 2001, Mike Fillis of TV Zone magazine conceded that Stingray was less "ambitious" than its immediate follow-up, Thunderbirds, but compared its "self-awareness" and "looseness" favourably to the "po-faced rigidity" of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He also praised the series' "well-drawn" characters and described its water-based special effects sequences as "surprisingly elegant" given the "uncooperative" nature of the medium.
Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, authors of The Guinness Book of Classic British TV, view Stingray's effects as more "realistic" than those of earlier Supermarionation productions. They also argue that while many episodes were "predictable and corny", the series contained a "knowingness and a love of character that made the whole thing charming." According to Jon E. Lewis and Penny Stempel, authors of Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guide, the series featured "plenty of kiddie-time exciting narrative action, while the more sophisticated could enjoy its proclivity to spoof virtually everything which passed its periscope." Sangster and Condon argue that while elements such as the animal character, Oink, mean that Stingray is aimed primarily at children, it is the first Anderson series in which the "sophistication of the production" creates appeal for adults. They regard Stingray as "much less po-faced" than Thunderbirds, with episodes that are "mercifully shorter, leading to tighter plotting and an engaging simplicity". Peel suggests that the "tongue-in-cheek humour that [Gerry] Anderson favoured probably reached its peak with Stingray."
Media historian Nicholas J. Cull observes that through its depiction of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP), Stingray is one of several Gerry Anderson series to "assume the development of world government and world security institutions" and "reflect the 1960s vogue for stories set in secret organisations with extravagant acronyms." He compares the premise to the Cold War, noting the conflict between WASP and the various undersea races and the latter's use of spies to infiltrate human society. Cull cites "Marineville Traitor", whose plot concerns the hunt for an "enemy within", as an episode with an "especially strong Cold War flavour". He also notes that while Anderson's series often focus on the dangers of nuclear technology, Stingray also presents it in a positive light: Stingray itself, for example, is a nuclear-powered submarine.
Sarah Kurchak of The A.V. Club argues that compared to villains in previous Anderson series Titan and the Aquaphibians represent a "more classically Cold War-style villainous Other". She adds: "Throughout the 39 episodes, the battle lines between land and sea are clearly defined, the enemy is always watching, and the target of their aggression is always close to home." Kurchak also suggests that the character of Troy Tempest serves as an embodiment of Cold War anxieties through his "multiple nightmares" involving threats against Marineville. O'Brien remarks that Stingray contains "more than a touch of the Cold War ethos", suggesting that Titan "could have easily belonged to an underwater branch of the Soviet Bloc, hungering for the destruction of the white-bread Tempest."
According to the Stingray comic strip in the weekly Countdown comic, more than one Stingray-class submarine was in service in the Marineville fleet. These vessels had names such as Spearfish, Barracuda, Moray, and Thornback and were identified by different numbers on their fins, suggesting that the "3" painted on Stingray's tail fin did not indicate that the submarine was a "Mark III" after all.
A similar idea had been adopted by author John Theydon for his second Stingray tie-in novel, Stingray and the Monster, some years prior. In the novel, another WASP submarine (unnamed and referred to as "Number Thirteen") is hi-jacked by an old enemy of Commander Shore. Theydon's description of the hi-jacked boat, both inside and out, is recognisably similar to that of Stingray, with the exception that "Number Thirteen" is stated not to possess Stingray's exceptional performance, being limited to roughly 400 knots (740 km/h) instead of the 600 knots (1,100 km/h) that Stingray is quoted as being able to attain. The implication, not explicitly stated, is that Stingray is an upgraded version of the design. Later, TV21 comic mentioned a second "super-sub" due to enter service under the WASP that is stolen by a Mysteron agent as part of the plot of a Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story.
- (in French): Escadrille sous-marine
- (in German): Kommando Stingray
- (in Hebrew): ha-Trigon (הטריגון; Hebrew for "stingray"). The show was broadcast in Israel in the 1970s and the early 1980s, with Hebrew subtitles incidentally translating "Marineville" as "Kiryat-Yam" (literally "Sea town", but coinciding with the actual name of a suburb of Haifa).
- (in Japanese): Kaitei Dai-Sensō Sutingurei (海底大戦争スティングレイ; literally, "The Great War Under the Sea: Stingray"）
- (in Spanish): El Meteoro Submarino ("The Submarine Meteor")
- (in Turkish): Denizler Hakimi
In Popular CultureEdit
- Sources give the year as 2064 (Archer and Hearn, p. 88; Bentley 2001, p. 12) or 2065 (Sellers, p. 88). The episode "The Lighthouse Dwellers" is set in 2065 (La Rivière, p. 103). The episode "Eastern Eclipse" is set 12 months after "Star of the East" (Bentley 2008, p. 92).
- The first episode has no on-screen title but is referred to as "Stingray" in documentation by distributor ITC Entertainment (Archer and Hearn, p. 97). It is also known as "Stingray (The Pilot)" or simply "The Pilot" (Rogers et al., p. 44). However, it was not devised as a pilot as Lew Grade, the Andersons' financial backer, had already approved the series format (Fryer 2016, p. 82). Gerry Anderson said that the first episodes of the series that he produced were called "pilots" for the sake of convenience (Archer and Hearn, p. 88).
- The opening credits refer to the colour process as "Videcolor".
- Evans, Jeff (2006) . The Penguin TV Companion. Penguin Reference (3rd ed.). London, UK: Penguin Books. p. 786. ISBN 978-0-141-02424-0.
- Bentley 2008, p. 79.
- "Stingray: The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
- O'Brien, p. 80.
- Bentley 2008, p. 80.
- La Rivière, p. 96.
- Rogers et al., p. 68.
- Peel, p. 240.
- Sangster, Jim; Condon, Paul (2005). Collins Telly Guide. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 722. ISBN 978-0-00-719099-7.
- "BBC Online - Cult - Gerry Anderson - Stingray -Introduction". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
- Bentley 2008, p. 355.
- Bentley 2008, pp. 81-93.
- Fryer, Ian (2011). Script To Screen. FAB Issue 69.
- Bentley 2008, p. 94.
- Sellers, p. 90.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 88.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 89.
- Bentley 2001, pp. 11-12.
- La Rivière, p. 102.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 90.
- Lewis, Richard (2002) . The Encyclopaedia of Cult Children's TV. London, UK: Allison & Busby. p. 286. ISBN 9780749005290.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 91.
- Meddings, pp. 33-34.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 99.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 100.
- May, Dominic (May 2001). "News: Stingray and Scarlet". TV Zone. No. 138. London, UK: Visual Imagination (published April 2001). p. 6. ISSN 0957-3844. OCLC 226121852.
- La Rivière, p. 101.
- Anderson, Sylvia (2007). Sylvia Anderson: My Fab Years!. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-932563-91-7.
- Bentley 2008, p. 67.
- Hearn, p. 39.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 94.
- Rogers et al., p. 75.
- La Rivière, p. 98.
- Sellers, p. 89.
- Peel, p. 19.
- Rogers et al., p. 53.
- Sellers, pp. 89-90.
- Hearn, Marcus (September 2015). "Setting the Scene". In Hearn, Marcus. Thunderbirds – A Complete Guide to the Classic Series. Tunbridge Wells, UK: Panini UK. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-84653-212-2.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 93.
- La Rivière, p. 99.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 92.
- Sellers, p. 91.
- Rogers et al., p. 83.
- Meddings, p. 33.
- Meddings, p. 32.
- Meddings, p. 34.
- La Rivière, p. 100.
- Meddings, p. 35.
- Hearn, p. 38.
- Rogers et al., p. 84.
- Rogers et al., pp. 84-85.
- Meddings, pp. 36-37.
- La Rivière, p. 103.
- Peel, p. 241.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 98.
- Bentley 2017,p. 188.
- Archer and Hearn, p. 260.
- Bentley 2017,p. 194.
- Lewis and Stempel, p. 174.
- Rogers et al., p. 94.
- Bentley 2001, p. 12.
- Bentley 2001, p. 108.
- Bentley 2008, p. 367.
- Bentley 2008, pp. 354-355.
- Bentley 2008, p. 354.
- Sellers, p. 92.
- O'Brien, p. 81.
- Fillis, Mike (May 2001). "Reviews: Merchandise: Stingray". TV Zone. No. 138. London, UK: Visual Imagination (published April 2001). p. 82. ISSN 0957-3844. OCLC 226121852.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1996) . Marshall, Anne, ed. The Guinness Book of Classic British TV (2nd ed.). London, UK: Guinness Publishing. p. 330. ISBN 978-0-85112-628-9.
- Lewis and Stempel, p. 175.
- Peel, p. 240.
- Cull, Nicholas J. (August 2006). "Was Captain Black Really Red? The TV Science Fiction of Gerry Anderson in its Cold War Context". Media History. Routledge. 12 (2): 193–207. doi:10.1080/13688800600808005. ISSN 1368-8804. OCLC 364457089.
- Kurchak, Sarah (1 April 2016). "Puppet State: The Growing Cold War Anxiety of Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation Shows". The A.V. Club. Chicago, Illinois: The Onion. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Aquaman(2018 film)
- Archer, Simon; Hearn, Marcus (2002). What Made Thunderbirds Go! The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson. London, UK: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-53481-5.
- Bentley, Chris (2017). Hearn, Marcus, ed. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Vault. Cambridge, UK: Signum Books. ISBN 978-0-995519-12-1.
- Bentley, Chris (2001). The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet. London, UK: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84222-405-2.
- Bentley, Chris (2008) . The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4th ed.). London, UK: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1.
- Fryer, Ian (2016). The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson: The Story Behind International Rescue. Fonthill Media. ISBN 978-1-78155-504-0.
- Hearn, Marcus (2015). Thunderbirds: The Vault. London, UK: Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-753-55635-1.
- La Rivière, Stephen (2009). Filmed in Supermarionation: A History of the Future. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. ISBN 978-1-932563-23-8.
- Lewis, Jon E.; Stempel, Penny (1996) . Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guide. London, UK: Pavilion Books. ISBN 9781857939262.
- Meddings, Derek; Denham, Sam (1993). 21st Century Visions. Surrey, UK: Paper Tiger Books. ISBN 978-1-85028-243-3.
- O'Brien, Daniel (2000). SF:UK: How British Science Fiction Changed the World. London, UK: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-903111-16-1.
- Peel, John (1993). Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet: The Authorised Programme Guide. London, UK: Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-86369-728-9.
- Rogers, Dave; Marriott, John; Drake, Chris; Bassett, Graeme (1993). Supermarionation Classics: Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. London, UK: Boxtree. ISBN 978-1-85283-900-0.
- Sellers, Robert (2006). Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC. London, UK: Plexus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85965-388-6.