Braman the Robot is back on telly. It’s only taken 54 years, though it should be noted he pulled in five million viewers on a 1991 repeat. He has gained an emoji-style face since his original appearance but remains as lovably clunky as ever. And he returns with a dire warning.
Bramen made his debut in Sun Probe,a 1965 episode of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds written by TV Century 21's Alan Fennell. In this adventure a team of astronauts attempts to snag a sample of matter from the Sun. Mission accomplished their retros fail and they are stuck on a rather toasty collision course. Thunderbird 3 is dispatched with to send a life-saving signal which will trigger the retros.
Astronaut Alan Tracy, his brother Scott and Tin-Tin (who does the signal bit if I recall) succeed in their mission but with a fatal cost - their retros won’t fire! Back on Earth, Thunderbird 2 shoots into action with Virgil and resident genius Hiram Hackenbacker, or Brains if you prefer, travelling to a remote mountain observatory where they hope to send another signal to the International Rescue spacecraft.
However, Brains forgets to pack the required supercomputer necessary for his calculations. Instead he has brought along Braman, an erratic work in progress who has been testing his patience. Luckily Braman keeps it together this time and calculates the required frequency to get Thunderbird 3 back on a homeward path. Yay, Braman! He gets a few cameo appearances in other episodes but Sun Probe is where he gets to shine.
The episode was the fourth to go into production but was extensively reworked when Lew Grade decided Thunderbirds should fill an hour slot. The 25-minute programme was expanded and shunted back in the schedule. It has also been adapted as a novel and in Thunderbirds: The Comic.
So I was pleasantly surprised when a modified Braman turned up in last week’s Thunderbirds Are Go. He has gone into space himself this time, almost a Fireball-style Robert, pumping out a distress call for another runaway spacecraft.
The new episode ends with a moment of sacrifice, but there is a cliffhanger so we might have more Braman on the way. Maybe he knows what happened to Tin-Tin?