Fireball XL5
Released by ATV
Producer Gerry Anderson
Directed ByGerry Anderson
David Elliott
Bill Harris
John Kelly
Alan Pattillo
Music DirectorBarry Gray
Special EffectsDerek Meddings
MediumBlack and White
Episodes 39
Duration25 Minutes
Original Air Date28th October 1962
Series Guide
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Fireball XL5 is a science-fiction television programme; it had a run of 39 episodes during 1962 and 1963. It was the second of Gerry Anderson's shows to be given the Supermarionation label and also his final black and white show; it is also notable as the only show to feature the voice talents of Anderson himself (as Robert). Set in the 21st century, the show follows the adventures of protagonist Steve Zodiac and the crew of the space ship XL5 as they patrol Sector 25 of the galaxy on behalf of the World Space Patrol.

Fireball XL5 featured strong science fiction plot lines using plot devices such as time travel, teleportation, hypnosis, and alien possession. This was juxtaposed with the poetic license taken when dealing with real scientific concepts which saw characters able to live and speak in a vacuum after taking an oxygen pill; this was presumably to do with the difficulty and cost associated with changing the puppet's costumes, articulated by Gerry Anderson in various DVD commentaries.


Fireball XL5 had a rather colourful origin as far as Gerry Anderson shows are concerned. The initial name of the show and indeed the titular spaceship was 'Century 21', which would later become the name of Gerry's merchandising company. The premise would have been set 200 years into the future as opposed to the 100 years forth the show was actually set, and the production was intended to be made in full colour. At the same time, Gerry Anderson had a different but very similar pitch going on. The concept would have involved a live action american boy called Joe who would have dream segments about being a handsome astronaut named 'Joe 90' who flew around with a crew in a ship known as Space Patrol Vehicle 1-0. These dream segments would have been made entirely using puppets. Despite the similar premise, The only common element between the two show concepts was the character of Professor Mathew Matic.
While the Century 21 pitch was the one taken on for a full series, the name 'Joe 90' would survive in the form of Lieutenant Ninety and would later be reused for a future production, Joe 90.

While the show was entering production however, a very similar rocket ship was featured in a 1962 Supercar Annual called 'Super R', which also took off from a launch rail much like Fireball. It is unknown whether Super R was merely one of many potential names for the ship during production, or if Super R is intended to be a fictional in-universe prototype for the later Fireball XL crafts.

Theme Music

The ending theme to this classic series, "Fireball," was released as an HMV single in 1963. Sung by Australian Don Spencer, Fireball reached no.32 on the UK top 50 in April 1963. It was arranged and conducted by Barry Gray with accompaniment directed by Charles Blackwell.

Regular Cast

Jock Campbell - John Bluthal

Eleanor Zero - Sylvia Anderson

Jonathan Zero - Sylvia Anderson

Griselda Space Spy - Sylvia Anderson

Boris Space Spy - David Graham

Subterrains - John Bluthal and David Graham

Captain Ken Ross - John Bluthal

Captain Ken Johnson - John Bluthal

Johnny Jackson - John Bluthal

Emergency Tannoy - Paul Maxwell




Theme Songs

  • (Singer):

I wish I was a spaceman

The fastest guy alive

I'd fly you round the universe

In Fireball XL5

Way out in space together

Conquerors of the sky

My heart would be a fireball, a fireball

Every time I gazed into your starry eyes

We'd take the path to Jupiter

And maybe very soon

We'd cruise along the Milky Way

And land upon the Moon

To a wonderland of stardust

We'd zoom our way to Mars

My heart would be a fireball, a fireball

'Cause you would be my Venus of the stars


  • The idea to use oxygen pills as a substitute for spacesuits on the puppet sets was suggested to Anderson by Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the practice of using closed circuit TV monitoring for the puppeteers and lip sync artists to work from originated with Fireball.


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