"This is the voice of the Mysterons..."
The first series made under the Century 21 Productions banner, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons signals the most dramatic change in direction that the Supermarionation process experienced since its conception. With newly available technology the puppets of tomorrow ventured further into the future with new lip sync mechanisms and smaller heads in correct human proportion with their bodies. This greater realism lead to a much darker tone throughout the series which is reflected in the brutality of the alien antagonists and their mission to avenge an attack on their city by humanity. That the titular character is killed in his opening moments in the first episode signals the willingness of the series to subvert what had come before it and shape the rest of Century 21’s history.
In 1967, Century 21 issued a promotional booklet for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons detailing, amongst other things, the format and individual character profiles. Ironically, for a show populated with characters who would struggle to generate a one-line description each, this was the first time the company had created in-depth biographies for each cast member. Reproduced here is a section from the promotional guide. It should be noted that there is little on-screen evidence of most of the biographical details imparted here. The suggestion of cross-overs with other series, such as Captain Grey preceding Troy Tempest as the Captain of Stingray, is something that was never explicitly stated in any Supermarionation series. Voice artist credits listed in brackets and are added by the author.
The series of half-hour programmes are in full colour and introduce a large cast of characters who will endear themselves rapidly to viewers, with television’s most unusual hero as the principal figure.
Captain Scarlet represents an entirely new concept in television heroes. He is indestructible. He can be killed, yet survive. Whatever happens to him his body is able to re-create himself. He is thus able to face greater hazards than any other heroes of any time, enabling him to lead the battle against the strange, avenging Mysterons, never-seen occupants of Mars who, in the mistaken belief that an unprovoked attack has been made on them from Earth, vow vengeance and embark on a war of attrition.
Captain Scarlet’s magical ability is shared by one of his colleagues, Captain Black, but with the difference that Captain Black becomes the Mysterons’ agent on Earth, but too elusive to be caught. He is, therefore, the principal visual villain of the stories, though he doesn’t appear all the time. The Mysterons don’t need him continuously: they are able to carry out their war of nerves form Mars.
The stories take place in the 21st Century, and the principal characters are members of an international organisation, Spectrum, which exists for the security of the world, and, because of the name of the organisation, all colours of the spectrum are used as code names for the operators. The agents themselves are men, but with them are glamorous girl pilots, all of whom combine glamour with technological brilliance.
The characters all have strong individualistic personalities.
Captain Scarlet, who is Spectrum’s number one agent and all the more important because of his fantastic ability to defy death. He’s English and comes from a family of distinguished soldiers, has attained degrees in technology, history and the employment of mathematics, and has been ruthlessly trained as a field combat soldier. His brilliant army career has led to him being invited to become Spectrum’s agent number one.
He is the true professional agent, carrying out orders fast and efficiently, but off-duty he is full of fun, carefree and bursting with energy, popular with all the Spectrum agents and with the opposite sex. (Francis Matthews)
His chief is Colonel White, who is the supreme commander-in-chief of the Spectrum organisation. He, too, is English, highly educated with first class honours in computer control, navigation and technology, has served with the World Navy and gained admiration and acclaim for his daring escapades, coolness in handling tricky situations and fine leadership of men. As a “cover up” story, his retirement has been announced when actually called up to serve in the Universal Secret Service, where his dedication to the cause has led to his leadership of Spectrum.
Off-duty he is still wrapped up in his work but when he does find time to relax he loves to play “war games” with Captain Scarlet. (Donald Gray)
Captain Grey is one of the principal agents – an American, born in Chicago. He’s a Navy man, decorated for his brilliant achievements and, transferred to the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, was put in charge of the prototype submarine vessel which was later to become Stingray. An injury led to his being succeeded by Troy Tempest but, two years later, and fit again, he became a field agent for Spectrum.
He is a man noted for his cool handling of tough situations, quick thinking, alertness, fast reactions and an uncanny anticipation of impending danger. His pastime is swimming and he spends hours in the Spectrum pool developing new styles and strokes. (Paul Maxwell)
Captain Blue comes from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and is the eldest son of a wealthy financier. A brilliant scholar, with first class honours in economics, technology, computer control, applied mathematics and aerodynamics, he preferred the thrillingly dangerous life of a top test pilot to entering business, and soon became renowned as a famous pilot with the World Aeronautic Society. He faced a new challenge when he transferred to the security department as an active agent, and his success in this sphere took him to Spectrum.
He’s a man of forceful personality but endless patience and loves an active out-doors life. (Edward Bishop)
Captain Ochre is another American but, unlike the other agents does not have outstanding academic qualifications. Always mad about flying, he gained his pilot’s license at the age of 16, served with the World Government Police Corps, smashed up one of the toughest crime syndicates in the US, but turned down top promotion because he preferred action to paperwork. This loyalty to his own convictions, his common-sense and his detecting ability spurred Spectrum into approaching him.
He’s quick-witted, a brilliant conversationalist, strongly prone to practical jokes, spends his spare time making model planes and is popular with the fair sex. (Jeremy Wilkin)
Captain Magenta is the other principal agent, and he comes from Ireland. His parents emigrated to America and he was brought up in a poor New York suburb in an atmosphere of poverty and crime where learning to become a pickpocket was more important than learning to read or write! But, encouraged by his mother, he worked hard at school, won a scholarship to Yale University, graduating with degrees in physics, electrical engineering, and technology but also getting into trouble because of his activities with the dare-devil extremists.
Yearning for a life of high adventure, action and big money, he turned to crime and became a big time operator...a ruthless mastermind controlling two-thirds of New York’s crime organisations.
What is a man like this doing in Spectrum? The answer is simple. The selection committee realised that they would need such a man, respected and trusted in the underworld, in their security organisation.....someone to work on the “inside”, getting to the heart of criminal activity. And the Irishman, to his credit, accepted this challenge. He has become one of the most dedicated members of Spectrum, and is liked because of his charm and wit. (Gary Files)
Lieutenant Green was born at the Port of Spain, Trinidad, and is Colonel White’s right-hand man. White’s orders are passed on through him. He is a man who has gained degrees in music, telecommunications and technology, has seen service with the World Aquanaut Security Patrol and with the Submarine Corps, and then the land-based communications centre. Taking an advanced course in communications, he passed with the remarkable achievement of 100% in nine out of the ten exams taken. He was made sole commander of communications installations at the Marineville Control Tower, and then seized on by the Spectrum organisation.
He’s alert, calm, never flustered or annoyed, full of fun and with all the boisterous, musical gaiety of the West Indies. (Cy Grant)
Doctor Fawn is an Australian. His job on Spectrum is Supreme Medical Commander. Son of a prominent Australian specialist, he gained honours degrees in biology and medicine, joined the World Health Organisation and was responsible for remarkable advances, including the development of robot doctors. Spectrum, seeking top men from every class, approached him. (Charles Tingwell)
And of course there is the mysterious, elusive enemy agent, Captain Black. (Donald Gray)
They are not all men in CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS, however. The series has some of the loveliest and most unusual girls of all time. They are pilots – and this is one of the reasons for them being known as the Angels.
They represent international glamour, American, English, Japanese and French.
The American is Symphony Angel, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As clever as she is attractive, her seven degrees in mathematics and technology won her the “Student of the Year” award and the attention of the Universal Secret Service. Her intelligence and capability got her through the usual five-year course in two years. Within five years she had revolutionised the spy game, her methods being copied all over the Universe.
When trained as a pilot for a special USS mission, Symphony fell in love with flying, joined a charter company and was then asked to join Spectrum. Off-duty, she’s sympathetic, quick-witted and has a hobby of creating fabulous new hair styles, both for herself and the other Angels. (Janna Hill)
Melody Angel is also American, but from the deep south. She was born on a cotton farm at Atlanta, Georgia, and her devil-may-care spirit can be traced to having four elder brothers. She was always a tomboy, took up professional motor racing when she left school and was then sent to a Swiss finishing school, where she was allowed to fly. Expelled from school for her unruly behaviour, she joined the World Army Air Force, soon displaying amazing courage and nerves of iron.
Her amazing determination and flying ability led to an approach from Spectrum. (Sylvia Anderson)
Rhapsody Angel is the Londoner, from Chelsea, of aristocratic parentage, a London University graduate with degrees in Law and Sociology. As a debutante she met Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, Britain’s top secret agent and later a member of the Thunderbirds team, who suggested that she should join the Federal Agents Bureau (F.A.B).
Rhapsody took over command of F.A.B when Lady Penelope went over to International Rescue, later becoming chief security officer for an airline company before starting up her own airline company. Meanwhile, Spectrum had been watching her career with interest, and asked her to become an Angel pilot.
Rhapsody is just the same off-duty as on – full of charm, sophistication and responsibility towards Spectrum and its agents. Her pastime is playing chess. (Liz Morgan)
Harmony Angel is the Japanese girl, from Tokyo, daughter of a wealthy flying-taxi owner. Growing up in a world of high speed jets, she became an enthusiastic member of the Tokyo Flying Club; was educated in Tokyo and London; flew round the world non-stop, breaking all records; inherited her father’s business on his death; and was then asked to join Spectrum.
She is full of Eastern charm and femininity, loves sports and spends a lot of her time teaching her co-pilots karate and judo. (Liz Morgan / Lian Shin)
Destiny Angel is French, born in Paris and educated there and in Rome. She joined the World Army Air Force and was switched to the Intelligence Crops before being promoted to the new Women’s Flight Squadron as its commanding officer. Three years later, she started her own firm of flying contractors.
Her combined talents in flying, intelligence and leadership resulted in Spectrum making her the leader of the five Angels.
On duty she is utterly ruthless and totally efficient; off-duty, she is essentially French, very feminine, charming and sophisticated. It goes without saying that she is fashion-conscious, and she’s a wizard at designing and making her own clothes. (Liz Morgan)
The Spectrum organisation operates from its Cloudbase headquarters, where all the agents and the Angels are based but patrolling Outer Space as well as Earth. The series begins with an exploration of Mars where, by sheer misfortune the hostility of the Mysterons is aroused when they believe that an unprovoked attack has been made on them. They are wrong in this belief, but it sparks off one of the most exciting, imaginative and unusual of all wars.
The Mysterons are never seen, only heard, which adds to the dramatic effect in this series in which colour takes on a new significance. (Donald Gray)
Underlining how the craft were now taking a back-seat to the characters (despite the success of Thunderbirds), the brochure doesn’t give details of the various vehicles in the show. So, for completeness, here they are:
SPV (Spectrum Persuit Vehicle)
Armoured tank-like vehicle with rear facing seats and a TV monitor for driving.
Single-occupant, delta-wing fighter jets flown by a team of all-female pilots.
Spectrum Saloon Cars
Red saloon car.
Spectrum Passenger Jets
MSV (Maximum Security Vehicle)
Armoured tank for safe transportation of occupants.
Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Gerry & Sylvia Anderson
Peter Curran & David Williams
Richard Conway & Stephen J. Mattick
DIRECTOR SUPERVISING SERIES
SUPERVISING VISUAL EFFECTS DIRECTOR Derek Meddings
CHARACTERS CREATED BY
SUPERVISING ART DIRECTOR
MUSIC COMPOSED AND DIRECTED BY
VISUAL EFFECTS LIGHTING CAMERAMAN
OPERATORS Peter Johns
CHARACTER VOICES Sylvia Anderson
VISUAL EFFECTS DIRECTOR
SPECIAL EFFECTS DESIGNER
VISUAL EFFECTS PRODUCTION MANAGER
SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR
Anvil Films Ltd
VISUAL EFFECTS – 2ND UNIT DIRECTOR
Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow
CAPTAIN SCARLET SUNG BY
A Gerry Anderson, Century 21 Television Production.
An ITC World Wide Distribution.
Filmed in Supermarionation.