- "Don't tell me they're gonna try a rescue with that thing! They must have got it from a museum!"
— Captain Foster
Thunderbird 6 is the second Thunderbirds feature film, and the last Thunderbirds production from Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's Century 21 Productions (AP Films before 1965). The film was released July 29th, 1968.
Having given Mr X (aka Brains, inventor of International Rescue's Thunderbird machines) an open brief to design their latest project, executives of the New World Aircraft Corporation attend a meeting to hear his proposals. They are astonished to hear that in an age of high technology and speed, he thinks it would be a good idea to build - a 21st-century airship. The committee room descends into hysterical laughter at his suggestion.
Following his return to Tracy Island, Brains is informed by Jeff Tracy that it's time for him to design and build Thunderbird 6 to complement the other Thunderbirds, although he admits he doesn't know what form this new craft should take. Brains, though, is reluctant to work without a specification, after his bad experience with NWAC. Jeff isn't unsympathetic: "Yes, they laughed - and then, they built it..."
Alan Tracy, Tin-Tin Kyrano, Lady Penelope and Parker are to be guests aboard the new luxury airship Skyship One as representatives of International Rescue on its epic maiden voyage around the world. Brains is unable to travel because of Jeff's insistence that the new Thunderbird 6 be operational as soon as possible. Alan has purchased and restored an old de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane in which he and Tin-Tin will fly to England to join Penelope and Parker for the airship launch. Back on Tracy Island, Brains works up several possible TB6 prototypes, but all are rejected by Jeff.
Before the launch, the crew of Skyship One are murdered and replaced by associates of the Black Phantom, led by Captain Foster. Because the ship is automated, it maintains a crew only in the event of an emergency, so the impostors' lack of knowledge goes unnoticed.
Their intention is to record Lady Penelope's conversations during the trip and edit her speeches to make a false distress call to transmit to Jeff, sending International Rescue to Black Phantom's lair at a disused airfield (10 miles south of Casablanca), where he can capture their aircraft. During the flight, Alan and the other guests become suspicious that the crew are not as knowledgeable as they ought to be, although Penelope is very taken with the dashing Captain Foster. After noticing a number of bugging devices in many of the rooms (especially those used by Penelope) they report their suspicions to Jeff via secret code while investigating the reasons for the spying. Eventually the crew manage to piece together the "distress call" and transmit it to John in Thunderbird 5, resulting in the launching of Thunderbirds 1 and 2. After establishing the crew's intentions, Penelope informs Jeff of their suspicions, confirming that the Thunderbird machines were heading for a trap. Jeff orders Scott and Virgil to destroy the Phantom's base.
Meanwhile, Alan confronts the crew, leading to a shoot-out in the engine room. A stray bullet hits the gravity compensator, causing the ship to slowly descend towards a huge missile base in Dover.
After the ship crashes onto a radio transmission mast, International Rescue must hold the ship in place to prevent it falling on the base before the ship, and the base below, can be evacuated. As Skyship One is balanced precariously on the tower, a light-weight aircraft is required for the rescue, so Brains flies the vintage Tiger Moth onto the top deck of the airship. However, the crew are holding the passengers at gunpoint, and Captain Foster commandeers the plane. Once in the air, a shoot-out occurs, in which Foster and the other conspirators are killed. Penelope is forced to take the controls, following instructions from Alan. This results in a number of near misses, including almost landing on an unfinished motorway and narrowly missing a chimney.
Meanwhile, the tower holding Skyship One collapses, causing it to crash spectacularly onto the missile base below. Alan attempts to land the biplane, but it runs out of fuel and crashes into some woods. The crew are unharmed, although they initially think they left Parker on the airship, they find him stuck in a tree having fallen from the plane just before it crashed.
Back at Tracy Island, the Tracy family gather on the Cliff House balcony for the official unveiling of the new Thunderbird 6. Jeff, though, can't understand how, since he never approved a design and too little time has passed for its construction. Finally, Brains introduces Thunderbird 6 - "built, tested and approved!" And as the cliff-face concealing Thunderbird 2's hidden hangar majeticlly pivots aside, what should emerge, but - none other than the Tiger Moth biplane! As the family laughs, Jeff agrees that the plane shall indeed become Thunderbird 6, stating its design is sound and has certainly proved its worth.
Silent Characters/Crowd scenes
International Rescue Equipment Used
- Thunderbird 1
- Thunderbird 2 (Pod 5)
- Thunderbird 3
- Thunderbird 4
- Thunderbird 5
- Thunderbird 6
- Alan's Hover Pack
Non-International Rescue Equipment Used
- One of the films' main villains, Black Phantom, heavily resembles The Hood. Though it surely cannot be him because he was shot down and killed in his helicopter by Lady Penelope and Parker in the previous film. When the question is put forward on the Thunderbird 6 DVD commentary by Sylvia Anderson and David Lane, they make reference to him as "Hood Jr.".
- Geoffrey Keen and Peter Dyneley previously appeared together in Deadly Record and Sink the Bismark.
- Keith Alexander takes over the role of John in this film. He contributed to a number of Anderson productions, including Lt. Keith Ford in UFO.
- The live action shot of the lion that Alan shoots was previously used, uncoloured, in the Fireball XL5 episode The Triads.
- Several of the Thunderbirds Are Go characters reappear here: New World Aircraft President Jim Glenn originally appeared as Commander Casey (the controller at Glenn Field Spaceport); Space Colonel Harris (the Space Exploration Centre President) appears as one of the aircraft designers at the conference at the start of the film.
- Just like Thunderbirds Are Go, none of the Pod machines appear in this film.
- The test rocket and silo from Ricochet makes a brief cameo at the far back of the missile base. Ironically, it's one of the few models not seen being destroyed in the final cut.
- When the film was broadcast on the Disney Channel (UK) for the themed "F.A.B Sunday" and "International Rescue day", the following scenes were cut, possibly to not upset its younger viewers:
- Alan, Tin-Tin and Penelope talking over crashing into a skyscraper if the ship's motors went wrong.
- A full shot of the man figure in the "burning building" and dialogue in Brains' first model demonstration.
- Alan shooting the Lion.
- Lady Penelope reading the full story of the fake DX-102.
- According to the fake newspaper Lady Penelope reads, the movie is set in May-June 2068.
- After flying over Rio de Janeiro, Skyship One travels all the way back across the Atlantic, to Africa, where we see Alan shoot at a lion. It then crosses the Atlantic a third time, to visit Iguazu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil.
- During the evacuation of the missile base, the vehicles that drive through the shots include Sam Loover's car from Joe 90, a Superon Tanker Truck, the missile trailer from the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode 'Renegade Rocket', the Moon Tractor from the episode Crater 101, Snow Cougar 21 from 'Noose of Ice', and Professor Gabriel A. Carney's car from the episode 'Codename Europa'. See: Dover Missile Base.
- The Glenn Field Control Tower was previously seen in the first movie Thunderbirds Are Go.
- Quite unusually for the landing sequences, Thunderbird 2 comes in to land before Thunderbird 1.
- One of the Skyship stewards uniforms reappears in the 'Joe 90' episode 'International Concerto', being worn by one of the guests at the Russian embassy.
- Parker's "under-control" puppet head was fitted with a special eye mechanism. Instead of going from side to side, they roll up and down.
- This is the final film to feature the cast of Peter Dyneley, Matt Zimmerman, David Graham, Christine Finn, Jeremy Wilkin, Shane Rimmer and Sylvia Anderson.
- Like the previous one, the only film to feature Geoffrey Keen, John Carson, Gary Files and Keith Alexander.
- This is the only time we see Brains in his International Rescue uniform with the Brown Sash.
- When Parker screams as he gets caught up in the tree, the dummy representing him can still be seen hanging on to the plane's undercarriage.
- Scott states that the towers Skyship One crashes into are "five miles east of Dover", while clearly showing a countryside. But in reality, five miles east of Dover would be the English Channel.
- The fake newspaper report on the DX 102 aircraft contains three paragraphs, all of them exactly identical.
- The same newspaper manages to misspell the word "Terrainean" every time.
- Due to the film being released in 1968, the Sydney Opera House can still be seen under construction when Skyship One flies over Sydney, despite taking place in 2028 or 2068.
- Model-maker Richard Aston is miscredited as Richard 'Ashton' in the opening credits.
- When before the rescue Jeff laments "We need something light, low airspeed… high manoeuvrability, short landing distance", someone might have at least mentioned Alan's jet-pack seen at the start of the movie.
- When Skyship One arrives in Egypt, Tin-Tin says she has never seen the pyramids, but she must surely mean that she has never visited them, as she previously saw them when Thunderbird 2 flew over them in Desperate Intruder.
- When the camera zooms in on the Whistle Stop Inn, the background "sky" is clearly visible through one of the windows, thus revealing that the back of the building is completely open.
- Main article: Thunderbird 6/Transcript
Behind the Scenes
- Main article: Behind the Scenes (Thunderbird 6)
- French: Thunderbirds et Lady Pénélope
- Japanese: サンダーバード6号
- Hungarian: Viharmadár 6