Gerry Anderson is a bit of a sci-fi legend, and I guarantee you will have watched, or at least heard of, one of his many series from over the years. He is best known for his puppet TV shows, the most famous of which is surely Thunderbirds, but also included Stingray, Fireball XL5, Joe 90 and of course the subject of this post, Terrahawks.
The first series of Terrahawks hit our screens in 1983, and was set in the year 2020. Funny, that doesn’t seem quite so far away now does it! Earth has come under attack for a race of androids who have set up a base on Mars from which they launch their attacks. In response a special force called the Terrahawks was put together to fight off this unwelcome menace.
The Terrahawks were led by Doctor Tiger Ninestein, so called because he was one of nine clones, originally created by a Professor Stein! He is joined by Captain Mary Falconer, who was pilot of the Terrahawks main space craft known as Battlehawk. Lieutenant Hiro is a brilliant scientist who works from space in an orbiting space station, and there are two fighter pilots named Hawkeye and Kate Kestrel. Kate also happens to be a famous pop star, so she has to balance saving the Earth with recording her latest hit, much to the annoyance of her manager (I think that’s what he was anyway) who had the wonderful name of Stu Dapples (Stewed Apples – I have no idea what the relevance of this was!).
The final addition to the Terrahawks team were the Zeroids. These were little metal spherical robots who rolled about and provided covering fire when defending against an alien aggressor. They were led by Sergeant Major Zero (brilliantly voice by Windsor Davies, who was basically reprising his role from sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum), and we have to assume that there were 101 of them, given that the highest numbered one we ever saw was called 101, who helped out Hiro on the space station. Some of the Zeroids were seen more often than others, and these were the ones with the stand out personalities. I remember there was one who was a bit cowardly (I forget his number) but I definitely remember that Zeroid 18 spoke with a French accent, and had a black moustache painted on it. I know this was the case because Sergeant Major Zero insisted on calling number 18 Dicks Hewitt (dix huit, french for 18).
The androids who were attacking Earth were led by the evil, and frankly quite ugly, Zelda. She masterminded all the attack plans, sending out various alien agents to do her bidding, including Sram, a big green alien with far too many teeth, and Yuri the mind control bear (a cute little fella, before his eyes start glowing that is). Zelda was also “helped” by her fellow androids Cy-Star and Yung-Star, who were considered as being her sister and son. Cy-Star was a bit dippy and generally useless, whilst Yung-Star usually messed up whatever he was asked to do because of his greed and laziness. The family was later expanded to included Goybirl/Birlgoy, which was Cy-Star’s offspring. As the name suggests, nobody seemed particularly sure of Goybirl’s sex, which is why it’s name changed from episode to episode. After Zelda though, Birlgoy was probably the most efficient of the androids.
Zelda’s answer to the Zeroids were the Cubes. These guys were a generally meaner version of the Zeroids, but due to their shape they could stack together to form different shapes. They were treated a bit more disposably than the Zeroids as well, but their inclusion led to the brilliant game of noughts and crosses that played out over the end credits. Zeroids and Cubes would appear on the grid in turn until one or the other managed to create a line of three, except sometimes the Cubes cheated and would bash a Zeroid out of the way to make a line themselves if beaten.