Children's TV series to return to ITV in 2015, 50 years after it launched, and will be made with Zealand special effects studio

Thunderbirds are back! The children's TV series will return to ITV in 2015, 50 years after Thunderbird 1 first launched from under the swimming pool on Tracy Island and Parker drove Lady Penelope around in a pink Rolls-Royce, number plate FAB1.

The new series, which has the working title Thunderbirds Are Go!, will be made with the New Zealand special effects studio that worked on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Thunderbirds first appeared on ITV in 1965 featuring Gerry Anderson's famous "supermarionation" puppet techniques. Anderson, whose other TV shows included Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and Space 1999, died on 26 December last year, aged 83.

The 26-part series will be made in collaboration with the Oscar-winning Weta Workshop, which worked on Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and will air on the UK on the ITV and the CITV channel.

It will feature a "unique mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets", according to the producers, ITV Studios and Wellington-based Pukeko Pictures.

The programme-makers said it would "deliver a whole new level of action-adventure animation for today's audience, whilst also affectionately paying tribute to the legacy of model locations from the classic series".

ITV Studios UK managing director Denise O'Donoghue said: "Thunderbirds is a highly respected brand that continues to hold recognition around the world.

"This cult series is often credited as changing the history of animation and action-adventure, and we look forward to taking the show to another level while retaining the much-loved heritage that has endured over the past 50 years."

Head writer on the new series will be Rob Hoegee, whose credits include Ben 10, Generator Rex, Teen Titans and Slugterra, names with which Thurnderbirds fans who watched the show first time round may not be immediately familiar.

Plans for a revival of the much-loved series were first revealed two years ago when Anderson said the show would be updated using "all the mod cons".

Richard Taylor, co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, said: "Thunderbirds was a hugely influential television series in my childhood. Having watched it originally in black and white, it was only years later that I discovered the full and rich world that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Derek Meddings, Mike Trimm and their team created.

"It is thrilling therefore to think we have the opportunity to work with ITV on this new series inspired by this most wonderful of British shows. I personally, together with the teams here at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, look forward to designing and creating an inspirational world that will engage the imagination of a whole new generation as it did for us nearly half a century ago."

ITV Studios retains the worldwide rights to the Thunderbirds brand, and is global distributor of the new series and all its spin-off merchandise.

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Watch an intro to the classic Thunderbirds TV show below: