Christine Glanville was the Supermarionation puppet supervisor and a much-loved puppeteer. She made many invaluable contributions to the Gerry Anderson television series and films over a period of 38 years. She became Gerry Anderson’s most durable and loyal employee, with credits on twelve of his television series, two feature films and two unscreened pilots. Christine was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1924, but moved to London with her parents while still a child. She left school at 14 and trained at art college during the early years of the war before joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
On leaving the Army, Christine joined a professional puppet theatre, Ebor Marionettes in Chiswick, that her parents had become involved with. In 1957, a puppeteer friend, Joy Laurie, invited her to help out on a puppet television show that she was working on. Christine was introduced to Gerry Anderson and became a puppet operator on his initial foray into puppet television, The Adventures of Twizzle. Twizzle and Torchy were the start of a working relationship with Gerry Anderson that endured for nearly forty years, as Christine went on to act as an operator and puppetry supervisor on each subsequent Anderson marionation production.
Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Thunderbirds Are Go, Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons, Thunderbird 6, Joe 90, The Secret Service and, finally, The Investigator, an unscreened pilot programme which brought the Supermarionation era to an end in 1972. Although she was only credited on the programmes as a puppet supervisor, like many of the other puppeteers, Christine was also responsible for the design and sculpting of many of the most popular puppet characters, including Scott Tracy and Alan Tracy. Her favourite puppet was Mrs. Appleby whom she based on her own mother.
During the early days of the Gerry Anderson series, Christine joined with four other Supermarionation puppeteers – John Blundell, Mary Turner and Eddie and Yvonne Hunter – to form The Company of Five Productions. After The Secret Service, Christine worked with Century 21 puppeteer Rowena White performing a touring puppet show, Aladdin, before they set up their own company, Stage Three, with a third puppeteer, David Ross. Later, all three were invited to work with Mary Turner and former Century 21 director of photography John Read at Cinemation, producing the popular children’s marionation series Rupert The Bear and The Munch Bunch.
Christine returned to the Anderson fold in 1977 to operate the Supermarionation puppets in Alien Attack, and then, in the early 80s, she became chief puppeteer on Terrahawks. Shortly after, Christine appeared on stage with giant puppets of Scott Tracy and Lady Penelope in the original run of the Thunderbirds FAB stage show. Christine had become a popular figure at Fanderson conventions and exhibitions, enthusiastically demonstrating her art with the assistance of her own puppets of Thunderbirds‘ Scott, Penelope and Parker. Her last convention appearance was at Fanderson Gold in 1996, where she held a series of puppetry workshops over the convention weekend, each of which was booked to capacity in advance.
She also worked on The Avengers feature film manipulating the props for the character of Invisible Jones (voiced by Patrick Macnee) and assisting in the creation of hundreds of snow globes despite her ill health. Her last professional engagement involved operating the Parker puppet during a photo shoot for a poster campaign, that appeared on hoardings all over London. Having contracted diabetes in 1998, Christine was admitted to High Wycombe hospital in mid-February to stabilise her condition, but she suffered from a respiratory infection and died on the evening of Sunday, 28th February 1999.