Thunderbirds is a British science fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, filmed by their production company AP Films (APF) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. It was made between 1964 and 1966 using a form of electronic marionette puppetry (dubbed "Supermarionation") combined with scale model special effects sequences. Two series, totalling thirty-two 50-minute episodes, were filmed; production ended with the completion of the sixth episode of the second series after Lew Grade, the Andersons' financial backer, failed in his bid to sell the programme to American network television.
This series was on that channel with edits and changes to be a kind of American version, but was canceled. After much debating between fans online, the reason for this loss in ratings and overall failure was brought to a head in an open letter by ITC. The letter placed blame (at the time) primarily on FOX's decision to chop episodes down for a half-hour format, resulting in butchered storylines (plus it was believed that broadcasting Thunderbirds in its original hour-length format would prove impractical, given the perceived short attention span of the target audience). Further problems came in the form of censorship. Many important scenes (featuring the characters smoking, drinking, bleeding, depictions of subservient minorities, and any major explosions) were deemed 'innapropriate' and ommited under FOX's broadcast standards. In an ironic twist, the vast majority of these edits would later be restored for Turbocharged Thunderbirds, which premiered on FOX, but at the 'graveyard' time-slot of 5:30am in most areas. By 1995, the series started broadcast on UPN's affiliates.