I'm sorry Gerry Anderson decided to leave us over Christmas. Generally I do not approve of this sort of untimeliness. But I must not be severe. The astral tunnel functions by its own timetable and it's not for the likes of me to waggle a timepiece at its insensitive operator.
But his death reminds me of my meeting with Sylvia Anderson, by then his ex-wife, of many years ago. She had been instrumental in the development of Thunderbirds and, in particular, in the rise of Lady Penelope: indeed, Sylvia was Her Ladyship's honeyed voice.
Lady P had all the airs and graces of an English aristocrat with Parker in tow ('m'lady'), but frankly the accent was more RADA-champagne-flute than yer actual cut glass. The Downton Abbey lot are generally clipped in speech and economical in display (social occasions excepted), so I'm afraid Sylvia's version of the hoity-toity was a little vulgar to say the least. And the pink Rolls Royce! Pure Barbara Cartland crossed with Jonathan King via Liberace.
But anyway, in conversation with Sylvia I gathered a number of impressions. Chief among them being that Lady Penelope had played a part in the disintegration of the Anderson marriage. As Lady P's fame grew, moulded by the soignee aspirations of her ventriloquist, so did Sylvia's own sense of personal accomplishment - and rightly. This unexpected outgrowth, in some strange and inexplicable way, perhaps helped destabilise the Anderson union.
Did Lady Penelope/Sylvia's towering success become the object of Gerry's jealousy, as the earnest Tracy clan (embodying Gerry's heroic fantasies) found themselves upstaged?
Certainly it's a question worth exploring by a talented TV or movie dramatist. And Joanna Lumley, with sufficient slap, would make a marvellous Sylvia and Lady P, as alternates become one.