Fireball XL5

Fireball XL5 is a British children's science-fiction television series following the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The show aired for a single 1962–63 series, produced by husband and wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson through their company APF, in association with ATV for ITC Entertainment, and first transmitted on ATV on Sunday 28 October 1962. While developing his new show, Anderson thought a brand of motor oil – Castrol XL – had an interesting sound. A phonetic change created the name "Fireball XL", with the "5" added since the title seemed rather flat without the numeral.

Fireball XL5
Fireball xl5.jpg
Title card
GenreChildren's science fiction
Created byGerry and Sylvia Anderson
Written by
Directed by
Voices of
Composer(s)Barry Gray
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes39 (list of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)Gerry Anderson
Cinematography
Editor(s)
  • Gordon Davie
  • Eric Pask
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)AP Films
DistributorITC Entertainment
Release
Original networkITV
Picture format
Audio formatMono
Original release28 October 1962 (1962-10-28) –
27 October 1963 (1963-10-27)
Chronology
Preceded bySupercar
Followed byStingray

The show featured the Andersons' Supermarionation, a form of puppetry first introduced in Four Feather Falls (1960) and Supercar (1961) and used again in their subsequent productions such as Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and The Secret Service. Thirty-nine black-and-white half-hour episodes of Fireball XL5 were made on 35mm film: all subsequent Anderson series were produced in colour.

Several Anderson series have been shown in syndication in the US, but Fireball XL5 is the only Anderson series to have run on a US network. NBC ran the series in its Saturday morning children's block from 1963 through September 1965.[1]

Fireball XL5 is often confused with Space Patrol (known as Planet Patrol in the US), a puppet series with a similar premise that was produced by Gerry Anderson's former collaborators Roberta Leigh and Arthur Provis.

The complete series is available on DVD in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US.

PremiseEdit

Set in the year 2062, the series follows the missions of Earth spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. Zodiac's crew comprises the glamorous Venus, a doctor of space medicine; middle-aged navigator and engineer Professor Matthew Matic; and co-pilot Robert: a transparent, anthropomorphic robot who often proclaims "ON-OUR-WAY-'OME".

XL5 patrols Sector 25 of charted interstellar space and is one of at least 30 "Fireball XL" ships operated by the World Space Patrol (an XL30 is mentioned in the episode "The Firefighters"). The ship has a "gravity activator" to produce internal artificial gravity and is made up of two detachable sections. A winged nose cone dubbed Fireball Junior houses the cockpit and serves as a self-contained short take-off and vertical landing craft for use on other planets. The rest of the ship contains a navigation bay, laboratory, workshops, lounge and crew quarters, together with the rocket motors that enable interstellar travel. On arrival at an alien world, the main ship usually remains in orbit while Fireball Junior explores the surface.

The World Space Patrol is based at Space City, located on an unnamed island in the South Pacific Ocean. The organisation is headed by Commander Zero, who is assisted by Lieutenant Ninety. For unspecified reasons, Space City's 25-storey, T-shaped control tower rotates (in one episode, a character inadvertently makes it turn fast enough for those inside to suffer vertigo). XL5's patrols are missions of three months' duration, with the ship on call at Space City between missions. The ship blasts off from a mile-long launch rail that ends in a 40-degree incline, or sky ramp. On its return to Space City, the whole ship lands vertically in a horizontal attitude using underside-mounted retro-rockets.

Until the episode "Faster Than Light", XL5 is depicted travelling around the galaxy at sub-light speeds. Its rocket motors, powered by a "nutomic" reactor, provide a maximum safe speed of "Space Velocity 7", allowing the ship to reach the outlying star systems of charted space within a few months. Outside the craft, the crew do not wear spacesuits: they take "oxygen pills" to survive the vacuum while using thruster packs to manoeuvre. The ship's "neutroni" radio allows virtually instantanenous communication with other craft over vast distances.

EpisodesEdit

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date (ATV London)Prod.
code [2]
1"Planet 46"Gerry AndersonGerry and Sylvia Anderson28 October 1962 (1962-10-28)1
Fireball XL5 intercepts a planetomic missile sent to destroy Earth. On Planet 46 Steve and Venus are captured by the Subterrains – who promptly launch a second missile with Venus on board.
2"The Doomed Planet"Alan PattilloAlan Fennell4 November 1962 (1962-11-04)5
The investigation of a flying saucer leads to Steve Zodiac attempting to save a planet which has broken out of its orbit and is on a collision course with another planet.
3"Space Immigrants"Alan PattilloAnthony Marriott11 November 1962 (1962-11-11)8
The Mayflower III, piloted by Venus, is carrying pioneers to a new planet. The indigenous Lillispatians have objections to their world being colonised.
4"Plant Man From Space"John KellyAnthony Marriott18 November 1962 (1962-11-18)6
Matthew's old friend, Dr Rootes, attempts to conquer Earth using an invasive species of alien plant life – which promptly runs amok.
5"Spy in Space"Alan PattilloAlan Fennell25 November 1962 (1962-11-25)11
Espionage at a fuelling depot, courtesy of that notorious couple, Mr and Mrs Space Spy. Venus is held hostage yet again.
6"The Sun Temple"Bill HarrisAlan Fennell2 December 1962 (1962-12-02)7
On Rejusca, Steve and Zoonie must rescue the much-captured Venus from sun worshippers who intend to make a sizzling sacrifice of her to their solar deity.
7"XL5 To H2O"John KellyAlan Fennell9 December 1962 (1962-12-09)12
XL5 responds to an urgent distress call from the last two survivors of a planet menaced by a weird fish man armed with a poisonous smoke gun.
8"Space Pirates"Bill HarrisAnthony Marriott16 December 1962 (1962-12-16)13
The XL5 crew gets entangled in a complicated game of bluff and double bluff to outwit a gang of space pirates plundering freighters from the mineral-rich planet Minera.
9"Flying Zodiac"Bill HarrisAnthony Marriott23 December 1962 (1962-12-23)10
Steve nearly falls victim to sabotage at a Space City circus as part of a complicated scheme by Mr and Mrs Space Spy to help alien nomads take over Earth.
10"Space Pen"John KellyDennis Spooner30 December 1962 (1962-12-30)15
Posing as criminals, the XL5 crew head for the prison planet Conva in pursuit of two Space City raiders, only to end up in Mr and Mrs Space Spy's lethal water chamber.
11"Space Monster"John KellyGerry and Sylvia Anderson6 January 1963 (1963-01-06)9
Zoonie's talent for mimicry gets the XL5 crew out of a tight spot when they investigate the disappearance of Fireball XL2 and find themselves menaced by a space monster.
12"The Last of the Zanadus"Alan PattilloAnthony Marriott13 January 1963 (1963-01-13)14
Zoonie falls sick – a victim of a plot by the evil Kudos, lone inhabitant of the planet Zanadu, to destroy all Lazoons with a deadly virus. Can the XL5 crew obtain the antidote in time?
13"Planet of Platonia"David ElliottAlan Fennell20 January 1963 (1963-01-20)3
While bringing the King of the Plantium Planet to Earth for trade talks, the XL5 crew foils a bomb plot by the king's aide, Volvo, to kill his ruler and plunge the two planets into war.
14"The Triads"Alan PattilloAlan Fennell27 January 1963 (1963-01-27)18
Steve, Venus, and Matthew encounter Graff and Snaff, a couple of friendly giants, on Triad – a planet three times the size of Earth – and help them in their efforts to explore space.
15"Wings of Danger"David ElliottAlan Fennell3 February 1963 (1963-02-03)17
While investigating strange signals coming from Planet 46, Steve Zodiac is unknowingly poisoned by a robot bird equipped with deadly radium capsules. Swift surgery by Venus saves his life, but the bird is waiting to "pounce" again.
16"Convict in Space"Bill HarrisAlan Fennell10 February 1963 (1963-02-10)16
Mr and Mrs Space Spy issue a fake distress call. But this time a convict being transported, not XL5, is their primary target.
17"Space Vacation"Alan PattilloDennis Spooner17 February 1963 (1963-02-17)22
A well-deserved vacation on the opulent planet of Olympus turns into a frenzied race against time when the crew becomes embroiled in a bizarre interplanetary feud.
18"Flight to Danger"David ElliottAlan Fennell24 February 1963 (1963-02-24)21
To win his astronaut's wings Lieutenant Ninety must complete a solo orbit of the Moon. But disaster strikes when his rocket catches fire, and he is feared lost... or is he?
19"Prisoner on the Lost Planet"Bill HarrisAnthony Marriott3 March 1963 (1963-03-03)20
Answering a distress call from uncharted space, Steve finds himself on a misty planet dominated by a giant smoldering volcano – where he meets a beautiful Amazonian exile who threatens to activate said volcano if she is not helped to escape.
20"The Forbidden Planet"David ElliottAnthony Marriott10 March 1963 (1963-03-10)25
Matthew's newest invention, the Ultrascope, obtains the planet Nutopia – never before seen from Earth, and reputed to be the perfect planet. But Nutopians have an invention of their own... a matter transporter.
21"Robert to the Rescue"Bill HarrisDennis Spooner17 March 1963 (1963-03-17)24
Steve, Matthew, and Venus are imprisoned on an unknown world by two Domeheads, Magar and Proton, who propose to wipe their Earth memories and keep them there forever. Before being brainwashed, Steve cleverly orders Robert the Robot to rescue them... with curious results.
22"Dangerous Cargo"John KellyDennis Spooner24 March 1963 (1963-03-24)27
On a mission to destroy an unstable ghost planet, Steve and Mat set explosives in a mine-shaft – only to find themselves trapped by the Subterrains.
23"Mystery of the TA2"John KellyDennis Spooner31 March 1963 (1963-03-31)23
When the crew finds the wreck of a spaceship that disappeared decades before, their search for the lost pilot, Colonel Denton, leads them to the planet Arctan – where they discover Denton living quite happily as king of the Ice People.
24"Drama at Space City"Alan PattilloAnthony Marriott7 April 1963 (1963-04-07)30
Jonathan Zero's unauthorised midnight exploration of Fireball XL5 turns into a terrifying adventure when the ship launches and catches fire.
25"1875"Bill HarrisAnthony Marriott14 April 1963 (1963-04-14)28
Matthew's new time machine whisks Steve, Venus and Commander Zero back to the Wild West of 1875, where Steve becomes a sheriff and Venus and Zero bank robbers.
26"The Granatoid Tanks"Alan PattilloAlan Fennell21 April 1963 (1963-04-21)26
Scientists on a glass-surfaced planet radio for help when they are menaced by six Granatoid tanks. XL5 responds but is powerless to halt the assault. A stowaway proves to be of unexpected help.
27"The Robot Freighter Mystery"David ElliottAlan Fennell28 April 1963 (1963-04-28)29
Steve Zodiac resorts to subterfuge to prove that an unscrupulous pair of space salvage contractors, the Briggs Brothers, are sabotaging robot supply freighters so that they can pick up the pieces.
28"Whistle for Danger"John KellyDennis Spooner5 May 1963 (1963-05-05)31
A plant disease has wiped out all vegetation on the jungle planet of Floran. XL5 explodes an Ellvium bomb to eradicate the disease and restore the plant life – but the inhabitants are suspicious of their motives and imprison Steve, Matthew and Venus in a 100-foot-tall (30 m) tower.
29"Trial by Robot"Bill HarrisAlan Fennell12 May 1963 (1963-05-12)36
Robots have vanished from four planets – and the disappearances are linked to visits by a famous robot scientist, Professor Himber. When Robert also goes missing, Steve and Mat undertake the three-month journey to Planet 82, only to be put on trial by the mad professor – the ruler of his kidnapped robot race.
30"A Day in the Life of a Space General"David ElliottAlan Fennell19 May 1963 (1963-05-19)37
Lieutenant Ninety has a nightmare in which he is promoted to general, but his erratic command wreaks havoc. A cascading series of disasters reaches its spectacular climax when Fireball XL5 crashes into Space City.
31"Invasion Earth"Alan PattilloDennis Spooner26 May 1963 (1963-05-26)34
A strange cloud hides an invading alien fleet.
32"Faster Than Light"Bill HarrisDennis Spooner2 June 1963 (1963-06-02)32
An out-of-control Fireball breaks the light barrier only to emerge in a sea of air.
33"The Day the Earth Froze"David ElliottAlan Fennell9 June 1963 (1963-06-09)33
Icemen from the planet Zavia deflect the Sun's rays, sending the Earth into a deep freeze.
34"The Fire Fighters"John KellyAlan Fennell16 June 1963 (1963-06-16)39
Fireballs are plunging to Earth from a mysterious gas cloud in space. Steve and his crew must contain the cloud before it reaches the atmosphere. Their plan goes smoothly until a technical fault forces Steve to complete the work by hand.
35"Space City Special"Alan PattilloDennis Spooner23 June 1963 (1963-06-23)38
Astronaut of the Year Steve Zodiac needs all his skill to talk Venus down after she takes over the controls of a supersonic airliner whose pilot has been sent into a trance by Subterrains.
36"Ghosts of Space"John KellyAlan Fennell6 October 1963 (1963-10-06)35
Steve and a geologist attempt to solve the manifold mysteries of the seemingly deserted planet Electron, which is replete with electric rocks and weird, poltergeist-like happenings.
37"Hypnotic Sphere"Alan PattilloAlan Fennell13 October 1963 (1963-10-13)2
Robert the Robot saves the day when the rest of the crew is thrown into a trance by a hypnotic sphere which has been spacejacking freighters.
38"Sabotage"John KellyAnthony Marriott20 October 1963 (1963-10-20)19
A neutroni bomb is planted aboard XL5 and the crew is kidnapped.
39"Space Magnet"Bill HarrisAnthony Marriott27 October 1963 (1963-10-27)4
An alien race called the Solars have their own use for Earth's moon.

CharactersEdit

RegularEdit

  • Colonel Steve Zodiac (voiced by Paul Maxwell): the pilot and commanding officer of Fireball XL5. In the episode "Space City Special" he is declared "Astronaut of the Year".
  • Doctor Venus (voiced by Sylvia Anderson): a doctor of space medicine, of French origin. Zodiac personally selected her to be a member of the XL5 crew. According to the episode "The Last of the Zanadus", Venus has served five years on the ship.
  • Professor Matthew "Matt" Matic (voiced by David Graham): XL5's engineer, navigator and science officer.
  • Robert the Robot (voiced by an uncredited Gerry Anderson using an artificial larynx): the co-pilot of XL5, a transparent robot invented by Professor Matic and Earth's most advanced mechanical man.
  • Zoonie the Lazoon (voiced by David Graham): Venus' lazy, semi-telepathic pet from planet Colevio. During his early appearances, he can say no more than "welcome home". His vocabulary expands as the series progresses, often due to him mimicking other characters.
  • Commander Wilbur Zero (voiced by John Bluthal): the operational commander-in-chief of the World Space Patrol and chief controller of Space City. Despite his gruff exterior, he cares deeply for his subordinates and respects them, especially Steve. Zero's rank appears to be above that of Colonel but below that of Space General.
  • Lieutenant Ninety (voiced by David Graham): the assistant Space City Controller. He is young, inexperienced and the character most often on the receiving end of Commander Zero's scathing attitude (though Zero also refers to him as "the best lieutenant Space City has"). In one episode he is shown to be training as an XL pilot.

RecurringEdit

  • Jock Campbell (voiced by John Bluthal): the chief engineer of Space City, of Scottish origin.
  • Eleanor and Jonathan Zero (both voiced by Sylvia Anderson): Commander Zero's wife and young son.
  • Captain Ken Ross (voiced by John Bluthal): pilot of Fireball XL7. He often needs to be rescued by the crew of XL5.
  • Space Spies Boris and Griselda (voiced by David Graham and Sylvia Anderson): a villainous Russian husband-and-wife pair who first appear in the episode "Spy in Space".
  • The Subterrains (voiced by John Bluthal and David Graham): a race of aliens from Planet 46.

PlanetsEdit

Many episodes of Fireball XL5 are set on exotic planets:

  • Amazonia – a planet mentioned in the episode "Prisoner on the Lost Planet" as being a member of the United Planets Organization alongside Earth and which had banished its mad queen to an unnamed planet of active volcanoes.
  • Arctan - an ice planet seen is the episode "Mystery of the TA2" which is inhabited by (two) ice-men, and ruled by "King" Denton.
  • Aridan – the desert planet that once had water but is now an arid wilderness seen in the episode "Space Pirates".
  • Conva – a regularly featured planet first introduced in the episode "Space Pen" as a planetwide prison for criminals and featured prominently in the episode "Convict in Space", in which one of its convicts escapes.
  • Granatoid – home of the Granatoid robots who appear in "The Granatoid Tanks" and described (though not seen) as having a completely technocratic society, led by a robot voiced by an uncredited Gerry Anderson.
  • Granvenia – a planet mentioned as the destination of fuel tankers that are being diverted to the planet Suventa in the episode "Hypnotic Sphere".
  • Hedera – a planet rich in plant life that was visited in the episode "Plant Man from Space" and home of a rampant strain of ivy called Hedera helixa.
  • Herbos – a jungle planet seen briefly in the episode "Last of the Zanadus".
  • Magneton – a planet visited in the episode "Space Magnet" and inhabited by the invisible Solars.
  • Membrono – a planet that was nearly destroyed (by another, unnamed planet) in the episode "The Doomed Planet". An advanced alien race lived on Membrono's moon.
  • Minerra – a planet rich in radioactive minerals needed for earth resources seen in the episode "Space Pirates".
  • Mirana – a perpetually burning planet seen in the episode "Hypnotic Sphere".
  • Monotane – a desert planet inhabited by a space monster in "Space Monster".
  • New Earth – a planet with a thin atmosphere and little gravity that was to be colonised by the crew of the spaceship Mayflower-3 in the episode "Space Immigrants" until spaceship Fireball XL7, sent out to prepare for the arrival of the Mayflower-3, was captured by megalomaniacal aliens.
  • Planet 46 – home of the Subterrains and a barren planet with an oxygen atmosphere; introduced in the pilot episode "Planet 46" and appearing in numerous other episodes.
  • Planet 73 – a planet colonised by Earth and attacked by the Granatoids in the episode "The Granatoid Tanks".
  • Planet 82 – a planet renamed Robotvia by Professor Al Himber.
  • Platonia – a planet featured in the episode "Planet of Platonia" and revealed to be rich in platinum and inhabited by silver-skinned aliens who eat 23-course meals. A trade agreement with Earth had created a power-struggle on the planet, which the XL5 crew was sent to calm.
  • Rajusca – a desert planet featured in the episode "Sun Temple", in which the Earth is attacked by sun-worshipping Rajuscans living in the desert.
  • Suventa – an ice-planet that is home to an unnamed brain-creature which hopes to use hypnotic satellites to take control of the universe.
  • Triad – a planet featured in the episode "The Triads" which is almost identical to Earth in every way, except for being three times its size. Consequently, everything on it, plants, people, animals, etc., is three times the size it is on Earth, also. The gigantic human inhabitants are friendly, but are at least 100 years behind earth technologically and were just attempting their first space launches when the crew of the XL5 visited.
  • Zanadu – a planet that featured a mysterious temple in the episode "Last of the Zanadus".
  • Zofeit – a planet whose inhabitants, the Zofeits, were almost wiped out (only two males surviving) by a lone alien in the episode "XL5 to H20". The crew of XL5 rescued the two survivors, who were evacuated to Earth.

ProductionEdit

After making Supercar, production company AP Films (APF) presented its investor – Lew Grade of Associated Television – with two ideas for a follow-up series. One of these, titled Century 21 (the original name of the spaceship), was commissioned and produced as Fireball XL5. The rejected proposal, Joe 90, was about a boy called Joe who dreams of carrying out daring space missions as an astronaut codenamed "Joe 90".[3][4] Unlike Century 21, this concept had a hybrid format – the fantasy sequences being filmed with puppets while the framing stories used live actors.[3][4] The only creative element shared by the two ideas was the character of Professor Matic.[5] APF would not revisit Joe 90 until 1967, when it developed a series of that title that bore little resemblance to the original idea.

Century 21 drew inspiration from the Space Race of the early 1960s.[6] Despite its title, it was originally to have been set in the 30th century, in the year 2962.[4][5][7] This was subsequently changed to 2062.[4][8] At the same time, the "United States Space Patrol" became the "World Space Patrol" and the name of Colonel Zodiac's spaceship (as well as the series itself) was changed first to Nova X 100, then Fireball XL5.[4][9][10] The "XL" of the final title was taken from "Castrol XL" engine oil.[11] Thirty-seven of the series' 39 episodes were written by Alan Fennell, Anthony Marriott or Dennis Spooner, all newcomers to the APF productions. (Spooner, however, had submitted unfilmed scripts for Supercar.)[12] Script supervision was performed by series co-creators and voice artists Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who also wrote the first episode ("Planet 46") and "Space Monster".[13]

Filming at APF's studios on the Slough Trading Estate began in February 1962.[4] Three stages were used: two for puppet filming (permanent sets on one stage, one-offs on the other) and another for special effects.[14] To speed up production, two puppet filming units were created to allow episodes to be shot in pairs by different crews, who alternated on the first two stages while the effects crew used the third.[4][14][15] The production of each episode consisted of a week's principal photography on the main puppet stage followed by inserts-filming on the secondary stage, coinciding with two weeks of effects shooting.[4][16] After a unit vacated one of the puppet stages, it was set up for the other unit to start or resume filming on another episode.

Characters and voice-recordingEdit

The concept brochure for Century 21 described Colonel Zodiac and Dr Venus as the "Mr and Miss America" of 2962.[7] Venus' face was modelled on her voice actor, Sylvia Anderson.[17] Character dialogue was recorded at a studio in Borehamwood.[18]

Robert the Robot had a perspex body with a head adapted from a plastic tumbler.[19] He was the only regular in a Gerry Anderson puppet series to be voiced by Anderson himself, who "spoke" the robot's lines (as well as those of supporting robot characters) through an artificial larynx.[19][20] As remembered by Anderson in a deleted scene of the documentary Filmed in Supermarionation (2014):

... [I]t was very, very difficult, if not impossible, to produce the sort of robot voice which would have to be a monotone. So we found out that at Edinburgh University, they were creating the human voice artificially. They gave us a vibrator – of course, everybody smiled at that – not that kind of vibrator! And it was a vibrator that people who had their larynx removed through cancer would be able to put under their chin, and it made a constant buzz. [Makes buzzing noise.] And then, of course, that sound was transmitted to the air inside the mouth. And I was then able to modulate that by mouthing the words. So let's get this straight, fellas – it was not my voice. It was the sound of the vibrator which I modulated.

Anderson also noted that due to the silent or aspirate nature of the letter "h", the larynx did not register its vocalisation; thus, Robert's customary exclamation "On our way home!" was rendered as "ON-OUR-WAY-'OME!".[19][20]

Effects and musicEdit

After working on the Andersons' earlier productions as a contractor, effects director Derek Meddings became a full-time employee of APF and formed his own unit with Brian Johnson as his assistant.[8][21][22] According to Meddings, some of the more action-packed episodes featured as many as "40 to 50" effects shots.[16] The rotating Space City control tower, whose filming model was made of wood and card, was inspired by contemporary revolving restaurants.[17][23][24][25] Fireball XL5 was the first TV series to employ front projection-based visual effects.[4]

The XL5 spaceship was designed by associate producer and former APF art director Reg Hill.[4][8] Three models were made: a seven-foot-long (2.1 m) version, which was used for close-up shots, and two smaller ones measuring 24 inches (61 cm) and five inches (13 cm).[4][24] XL5's rocket sled launch was based on a rumoured Soviet plan to fire vehicles into space on a track that ended in a ramp.[8][26] During the filming of the launch sequence, XL5 was pulled along its rail on wires by a technician who ran across a platform above the set.[27] Fast cutting was employed to hide the shaking of the model.[25] Some of the series' rocket sound effects were created by recording a jet plane at a nearby airfield.[21]

The Jetmobiles – personal hovercraft that the XL5 crew use to explore the surfaces of planets – were conceived as a way of limiting the number of scenes that showed the characters walking, thus helping to conceal their lack of realistic articulation.[10][17] Originally the vehicles were to have been rocket-powered; however, tests with miniature explosives proved too destructive so the method of propulsion was changed.[22] The characters of APF's later series Stingray and Thunderbirds use vehicles similar to the Jetmobiles.[10]

The opening theme music features saxophones as well as series composer Barry Gray's first use of an Ondes Martenot.[23] The ending theme song – "Fireball", arranged by Charles Blackwell and performed by Don Spencer – was a minor hit in the UK, spending 12 weeks in the country's music charts.[23][28]

Tie-ins and home videoEdit

In addition to the theme song, the series spawned tie-ins including toys, an MPC playset with rocket ship and figures, model kits, puppets, ray guns, water pistols, comic strips and annuals. A black-and-white Fireball XL5 comic strip ran in TV Comic from 1962 to 1964. In January 1965, the strip moved to the newly-launched TV Century 21 comic, where it remained for the next five years. The comic adventures, drawn by Mike Noble,[29] were printed in colour until 1969, when they reverted to black and white. Four annuals, featuring comic strips and text stories, were published by Collins between 1963 and 1966. In the US, Gold Key Comics published a single-issue comic book in 1963; the following year, Little Golden Books published a colour illustrated story book (which was released as Fireball XL5 – A Big Television Book in the UK).

Like most of the Supermarionation series, Fireball XL5 was given a "complete series" DVD release in Region 1 by A&E Home Video.[30] A Region 2 version with new bonus material was released in 2009, superseding a 2004 release that had no extras. Also in 2009, a colourised version of the episode "A Day in the Life of a Space General" was released on Blu-ray.[31]

TranslationsEdit

  • (in French) : Fusée XL5
  • (in Spanish) : El Capitán Marte y el XL5. In the version shown in Latin American countries, Colonel Zodiac is called Capitán Marte ("Captain Mars")
  • (in Greek) : Πύρινη Σφαίρα (Pyrine Sphaera = Ball of Fire)
  • (in Japanese) : 宇宙船XL-5 (Uchuusen XL-5 = Spaceship XL-5)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1985). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part II: Live, Film, and Tape Series. Scarecrow Press. pp. 171–172. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2.
  2. ^ Bentley, pp. 64-77.
  3. ^ a b La Rivière, p. 108.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bentley, pp. 62-63.
  5. ^ a b La Rivière, p. 109.
  6. ^ Meddings, p. 19.
  7. ^ a b Archer and Hearn, p. 71.
  8. ^ a b c d La Rivière, p. 112.
  9. ^ Archer and Hearn, pp. 71-72.
  10. ^ a b c Fryer, p. 69.
  11. ^ Archer and Hearn, p. 72.
  12. ^ Fryer, pp. 72-73.
  13. ^ Fryer, p. 72.
  14. ^ a b Fryer, pp. 73-74.
  15. ^ Archer and Hearn, p. 76.
  16. ^ a b Meddings, p. 26.
  17. ^ a b c Sellers, p. 84.
  18. ^ Fryer, p. 71.
  19. ^ a b c Archer and Hearn, p. 79.
  20. ^ a b La Rivière, p. 119.
  21. ^ a b Sellers, p. 85.
  22. ^ a b Meddings, p. 22.
  23. ^ a b c Archer and Hearn, p. 81.
  24. ^ a b La Rivière, p. 113.
  25. ^ a b Meddings, p. 25.
  26. ^ Archer and Hearn, p. 80.
  27. ^ Sellers, p. 86.
  28. ^ La Rivière, p. 123.
  29. ^ "Mike Noble". lambiek.net.
  30. ^ Fireball XL5 – The Complete Series (1963), at Amazon.com Accessed 9 January 2018
  31. ^ Fireball XL5: A Day in the Life of a Space General, at Blu-ray.com/movies Accessed 9 January 2018

Works cited

External linksEdit