Supermarionation
– The universe
J. Lester Novros II

a wellknown device used in writing fiction is the socalled 'back story' wherein the background of a fictional character is detailed: his likes and dislikes, his past, his skills, his relationships with other characters in the story, &c. In general, the audience is rarely made aware of this background material since its only purpose is to enable the author of the story to get a clearer image of who the character is and how he would react in a certain situation. This state of affairs changed radically with the advent of the TV21 magazine.

calendar
This calender from Give or Take a Million clearly shows Thunderbirds being situated in 2026

As described elsewhere, TV21 (and its later Dutch counterpart TV2000), as well as both the British and Dutch annuals, filled their pages not only with comic strip adventures of the protagonists from the TV series but also published biographies of its stars based on the aforementioned back stories, amplifying the suggestion these were flesh-and-blood people rather than fiberglass puppets. In the same way, the magazines and the annuals of the time attempted to pull together the separate worlds of the different TV series into one unified whole by publishing articles in one of the Thunderbirds annuals about the WASP and the WSP with direct references to heroes from previous series such as Commander Shore and Troy Tempest, combining these with illustrations showing the WSP control tower from the Fireball XL5 series and the WAF carrier aircraft and the Sidewinder from the Thunderbirds episode Pit of Peril.

Obviously, these attempts also necessitated unifying the time periods in which the separate series were situated. And since the magazine and the first few annuals all appeared in the mid sixties, the decision was made to situate the Anderson Universe in 2066. As is shown by the illustration at left, this didn't jibe with on-screen information: a calender seen in Give Or Take A Million clearly shows the series was set in 2026 rather than 2066. To this day this discrepancy is the cause of much debate among fans about which date is considered to be correct.

But similarities between series don't stop at this attempt at unification. Since art director Bob Bell and his team decorated the sets with readily available articles such as toothpaste tubecaps