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Tohokushinsha Film picks up Century 21 lockdown series inspired by Thunderbirds

Nebula-75 filmmakers (LR) Stephen La Rivière, Andrew T Smith, Géraldine Donaldson and Elliot Pavelin

Tohokushinsha Film Corporation (TFC) in Japan has acquired a Thunderbirds-style series born in a living room during the first lockdown last year.

TFC’s Star Channel will air Nebula-75 in Japan in the first quarter of 2022, following a deal with its UK producer, Century 21 Films.

TFC controls the Japanese rights to Thunderbirds and other shows that use Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Supermarionation style of production featuring puppets that spawned a number of series in the 1960s.

Intended to evoke a Supermarionation series that never actually existed, Nebula-75 began its life during the UK coronavirus lockdown of 2020.

When the team at Century 21 Films found their planned projects cancelled as a result of the pandemic, they decided to attempt to produce something worthwhile using the resources they had to hand in the London flat where a number of them lived.

Thanks to their work on productions such as Thunderbirds: The Anniversary Episodes, Endeavour and numerous UK television advertisements, they had numerous puppets, props and models to hand.

Created by Stephen La Rivière and Andrew T Smith, an initial eight episodes were shot in their living room and a further four were produced recently outside of the flat.

La Rivière, co-founder of Century 21 Films and the co-creator and co-writer of Nebula-75, said: “During that first very strict lockdown when you could pretty much only go out for an hour a day, we decided to make the first 10-minute Nebula-75 because we thought it might entertain others stuck at home.

“It was a huge struggle to film with just three of us in our cramped living room and with sets built on the back of bookcases. When we put it out we certainly didn’t expect it to get so much attention.

“But what some of our viewers dubbed ‘newstalgia’ seemed to resonate with viewers worldwide. That it’s now been acquired for television and cinema – and even dubbed into Japanese – is just beyond our wildest imaginations. We’re truly gratified that it struck such a chord during a very difficult time.”

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