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Steerforth lifts the lid on Gerry Anderson’s worst idea – an unintentionally grotesque show so awful that it traumatised a generation despite never even making it onto television…

In 1966, at the height of his powers, “supermarionation” creator Gerry Anderson came up with a bold concept for a new television series. He had already designed the puppets and with the recent success of Thunderbirds behind him, it looked certain that the new project would be given the green light.

But there was one problem: Anderson’s idea was utterly mad.

The new series was given a unanimous thumbs down by television executives, but undeterred, Anderson turned his idea into a publication franchise, spawning 154 issues of a comic and several books. The whole sorry episode lasted less than three years but it was long enough to screw-up a generation of under 5s.

Welcome to the world of Candy and Andy….

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Candy and Andy are just like any other children, except that they are plastic and live with two panda bears called Mr and Mrs Bearanda. They drive around in a Mini called Stripey.

The Candy and Andy books fail to explain the children’s relationship with the Bearandas. It is clearly not a genetic bond, so were Candy and her brother adopted? Is Andy even Candy’s brother? We are never told.

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With their panda parents, Candy and Andy live in a world of humans (and a talking hedgehog). It should be enchanting, but the reality is deeply disturbing.

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In Candy and Andy’s world, you do talk to strangers. Oddly enough, these strangers are never alarmed by the presence of two sinister dolls.

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The next picture is the stuff of nightmares, with Candy and Andy sitting on the lap of an evil-looking Father Christmas. This was the era before CRB checks, when perverts and sex offenders were able to find work as store Santas. This one looks as if he’s just been released from Parkhurst.

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I inherited a Candy and Andy book when I was three and forgot all about it until this year, when I started suffering from flashbacks. Perhaps it was my new job. If Proust was inspired to write a mammoth novel from the whiff of a few cakes, what hope did I have with thousands of books at my disposal?

There is another disturbing aspect to this story. I am a rationalist, but one day I saw a box of books and the words “Candy and Andy” came into my head. I started to unpack the contents and there, lying at the bottom, was the first Candy and Andy book I had seen since I was three. I now know the meaning of the phrase “sent a shiver down my spine”.

Candy and Andy has been conveniently airbrushed out of Gerry Anderson’s career history. There is no mention of them on Wikipedia and apart from one dedicated 1960s website, I can only find a few cursory references.

There are probably thousands of people in Britain who shudder at the sight of dolls without knowing why and find themselves suffering from recurring nightmares about talking pandas and psychedelic Minis. Like most traumas from early childhood, these memories are deeply repressed.

Perhaps it is time to form a support group for victims of Candy and Andy. We may have had our childhoods stolen by the weird, perverted fantasies of Gerry Anderson, but at least we can work together to end the nightmares.

NB – If you’re wondering what happened to Candy and Andy, I’m told that Candy made a few soft porn films in the 1970s, before marrying a millionaire property speculator. She now manages a chain of high class hotels. Andy never managed to cope with the transition from child star to adult and his last acting role was in 1987, at a pantomime in Swindon. He was arrested last year for stealing a Breville Sandwich Maker from a branch of John Lewis. He still lives with Mrs Bearanda.

Steerforth is a gentleman bookseller from East Sussex, who blogs at The Age of Uncertainty.

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  1. Worm on Monday 10, 2014

    YIKES – my grandmother had this very book (with them carrying a log) at her house and I remember daring myself to take it down off the shelf whenever I went round there and being unsettled by the expressionless plastic children and strange 60′s colours – what a flashback!

  2. malty on Monday 10, 2014

    Also used as a training video for British Leyland’s potential Mini customers, in the first thumbnail we are shown how to group-replace the rotting front nearside subframe, a task which had to be undertaken every four months, more frequently in winter. Special notice should be taken of the little twerp holding a wheel, this must be slipped under the floorpan, as a last resort measure, when the jack collapsed.

    Thumbnail three shows the default method for replacing a knackered electric fuel pump, strategically placed underneath the boot floor, in an ideal position, catching every last drop of rainwater. The thumbnail omits one vital piece of information, simply replacing the pump was no guarantor of forward motion, the pump, made by Smiths Instruments, tended to self destruct when shown twelve volts.

  3. Denkof Zwemmen on Monday 10, 2014

    A short novel recently published by Faber & Faber, “Elect H. Mouse State Judge”, might help exorcise the malignant spirits of plastic dolls which, as you say, continue to torment thousands of grown-ups. The book is a crime noir enacted by dolls and includes a hot sex scene between Barbie and Ken.

  4. Gaw on Monday 10, 2014

    It’s certainly horrific but I also sense a lot of pathos – those poor plastic wannabe-human dolls. It’s like Pinnochio but set in a 1960s Uncanny Valley.

  5. Peter on Monday 10, 2014

    In fairness to Mr. Anderson, this was the mid-sixties, when plastic and artificiality were still seen by many as wondrous. In that era, many convinced themselves frozen convenience foods actually tasted better. I remember an industrial pavillion at the ’67 World’s Fair that featured chemically created fruit smells—no boring natural fruit whatsoever. Mmmm, 100% artifical strawberries!

    We may think today this was traumatizing, but is it possible it took the cult of the natural and some 1970′s horror films for us to see what we are now seeing? I’ll bet a lot of kids watched Candy and Andy and thought “Cool, no acne”.

    OTOH, that rainbow coloured Mini set a new bar for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

  6. Worm on Monday 10, 2014

    conspiracy theory – the hideously evil Candy & Andy books were actually the childhood favourites of designer Paul Smith

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/GU_front_gifs/2013/6/10/1370885045879/Paul-Smith-and-a-Mini-in–010.jpg

    • malty on Monday 10, 2014

      Well spotted Worm, PS shirt prices are as flamboyant as the dickie dirts themselves, a sale price of £105 for last years style is the height of optimism, north of Watford.
      Incidentally, a new minivan in 1962 cost £275 or 2.619 Smith shirts.

  7. Brit on Monday 10, 2014

    It seems odd that Anderson didn’t realise that these things were slap bang in the middle of the Uncanny valley, when Doctor Who and various horror movies did make use of the scariness of puppets. But then again, he obviously had an unusual relationship with marionettes.