February 17, 2009


Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-1968). Art Director/Bob Bell (Thunderbirds, UFO), Production Designer/Keith Wilson (Joe 90, UFO). Though not strictly a "spy" program, Captain Scarlet made use of fantastic Sci-Spy aesthetics and technology. Woven into the story was a double agent, Captian Black, who (like Scarlet in the first episode) is a double agent working against the Earthlings. As with most of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s productions, Captain Scarlet just pops off the screen with Spy Vibe colors and gadgetry. Dealing with puppets and futuristic themes, the team invented fantastic technology to move our heroes around by all manner of secret shoots, conveyor belts, trap doors, and elevators- conventions that will be familiar to fans of the Wallace and Gromit films. Spectrum HQ is a floating sky-base with vast windows, pop art colors, computer and microphone consoles, and a hip lounge where the super model jet pilots hang out! They always seem to be browsing through interesting magazines and chilling to the catchy organ music of Barry Gray. But when the alarm sounds, these groovy agents rise up through the ceiling into their planes for immediate take-off.

All of Gerry Anderson’s shows share this great sense of inventiveness, adventure, and style, and the numerous exterior and interior sets for Scarlet were a highlight of Anderson's career. With the exception of UFO and Space 1999, he mostly produced shows with miniatures and puppets, so extra points go to the teams of artists that put so much attention to every detail on screen to make the stories come alive. Captain Scarlet saw the introduction of a more high-tech puppet style with more proportionate designs compared to earlier shows like Thunderbirds. Here are some interiors.
Our agent at Design Within Reach has identified the chair design as (most likely) based on Danish designers Preben and Jorgen Kastholm & Fabricius.


Check out Spy Vibe's production set series, an event that gathered together many writers to celebrate the best spy sets from cold war-era film & TV. Guest Set Lists: Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Armstrong Sabian, Steve Bissette, Roger Langley, Matthew Bradford, Wesley Britton, David Foster, Matt Kindt. Spy Vibe's Set For Adventure here, Set Countdown #10, #9, #8 ,#7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1.


  1. I haven't actually seen this one, but I have the theme song on a few CDs and it's fantastic. Maybe I should ask my British neighbor if he has a copy....

    (I can send the Photoshop layer file, or the Illustrator image, for the COBRAS logo, if you're interested).

  2. Definitely check this show out- it's really cool. Scarlet's voice actor is a dead ringer for Cary Grant. Add the Barry Gary music, jetpacks, gadget vehicles and spy arsenal and it really adds up to fun :) I like the first episode and often show it to my students.

    I'd love to add that whole command center you made- that's really fantastic. Not sure I can add that to my blogspot or site (technology-wise). For now, a jpg of the the Logo can get me started. Thanks!

  3. Captain Scarlet was made entirely of awesome. The set and style work was in large part Sylvia Anderson, Gerry's wife - she's the one who really brought together Gerry's mad genius and could put it into a world that all fit somehow together. It's such a wonderfully lush world.

  4. Sylvia was behind the Century 21 Fashions, too, wasn't she? I've always wanted to read her book. I'll have to pick it up :)