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In praise of - Lady Penelope.

GERRY Anderson's departure to that great puppet theatre in the sky reminds the world he's no longer around to create icons such as Lady Penelope.

And for those who were schoolboys of the early sixties comes a stark reminder of the part the blonde marionette played in the formation of young minds.

Lady Penelope was for many their very first example of posh totty, a back-combed creature from another world who represented racy fun, who excited and gave promise of an exciting life ahead, should a young man from a tenement close ever get the chance to meet such magnificence.

Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward may have come with a few strings attached, but she had many attributes. She could ski, was street smart, could speak several languages – and how could you not be attracted to a sophisticate who wore a perfume called Soupcon de Peril? What also attracted me to LP was the way she handle men. She was an international level flirt, who could bat her super-thick eyelashes like bats wings, yet she knew the line; men such as Jeff Tracy of International Rescue were allowed to zip up her dress – but no more.

As for her treatment of Parker? Well, it's a surprise he could retain liquid given the number of times her stilletos walked all over him.

And we loved her for that. But Lady P also paved the wave for my adoration of an entire line of hoity-toity sirens; Grace Kelly, Honor Blackman, Sylvia Sims, Hayley Mills, all the way through to Felicity Kendal.

Yes, when Thunderbirds took flight again in TV re-runs Lady Penelope was criticised for smoking, wearing furs and not wearing a seat belt. And rightly so. But we have to remember she was different class. And of her time. Gerry Anderson's time, in fact.

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