Theo de Klerk

tV2000 burst onto the Dutch comics scene on September 3d, 1966 as counterpart to the immensely succesful British TV21 which had a much longer history. Since that magazine was supported largely by Anderson puppet series never seen in Holland, it didn't have much of a raison d'etre, at least not until the Avro started broadcasting the Thunderbirds series on Dutch television from September 15th, 1965 onwards. Following the lasting success of this series, Holland was ready for a comic magazine which starred the puppets. And, along the way, other Anderson series were introduced without the Dutch reader realising that these stories were also based on puppet series. TV2000 never put its readership wise; at best one could surmise that Dutch television with-held its viewers a number of series. These wouldn't be seen on Dutch TV sets until the cable companies started transmitting the BBC broadcasts in the 90s.

TV2000 #44 front page with the text 'Thunderbird 2 onder vuur', 'wat bezielt de luchtmacht?' and a picture of the airplane from the 'Cham Cham' episode flying over the camera
International Edition
September 29, 1966

Just before the first issue of TV2000 hit the stands, the market was slowly prepared. The Albert Heyn grocery chain had just published its Thunderbirds Codes which were enormously successful and were taken home by thousands of mums. The Lincoln snap-together kits graced the shopwindows with a ƒ4,95 price tag and I remember seeing a comic book side by side with a Thunderbird 3 kit: Thunderbirds Extra Album. As it later turned out, the first in a series of three. The first volume appeared in two different versions: the title page is marked either summer 1966 or autumn 1966 but the contents are the same. The back cover showed an ad announcing the new TV2000 magazine.

At the same time, readers of the Fix & Fox comic magazine were prepared for the newborn. Fix & Fox was the Leidse Rotogravure Maatschappij company's counterpart to the Amsterdam based Geïllustreerde Pers publishers' Donald Duck, based on Disney's famous characters. If mum read Eva, the kids would read Fix & Fox. In case of Libelle or Margriet being a regular guest, so was Donald Duck or PeP. And if you were unlucky enough to have your mum read the Haarlem based Spaarnestad Uitgeverij's Beatrijs, you would almost certainly be reading Sjors. That same magazine, by the way, was the first to publish a Supercar comic in the early 60s.

From Fix & Fox to TV2000

The last three issues of the Fix & Fox magazine showed large centrefold pictures of the Thunderbirds machines, announcing the coming of the new mag. At the same time, ads for TV2000 were run in Rotogravure Maatschappij's TeleVizier, a concurrent TV guide. By way of promotion, the first issue of TV2000 was free and was distributed through youth clubs and neighbourhood cimemas (remember, this was a time when kids could be lured inside to go and see a Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin flick for a few bob).

The transition from Fix & Fox to TV2000 also explains the somewhat unusual starting number of 36 for the first issue. On the other hand not all that unusual since, in good Dutch tradition, weekly magazines are numbered according to the week they appear in and not, as is common in the UK, consecutively. Descending from 'a magazine full of homeliness', from the first issue onwards TV2000 would be 'a magazine for today's youth'. Incidentally, Rotogravure Maatschappij's involvement in TV2000 and TV21 went further than just the two mags: they also printed the British Thunderbirds annuals and the much sought after Thunderbirds Are Go! Special Edition picture book but were regretfully enough never allowed to publish these on the Dutch market.

The formats

Just as TV21, TV2000 initially appeared in a tabloid format, using the same newspaper-like frontpage lay-out which served to give the impression of a newspaper from the future. This set the mag clearly apart from other, concurrent, kids' magazines and put it on another level altogether. Since it was usually delivered folded over its length not many mint copies can be found. The 16 page, 36 by 27 cm. newspaper format was used for issues 36/1966 – 53/1966 and issues 1/1967 – 12/1967. It was subsequently reduced to standard A4 format and its contents grew to the also standard number of 32 pages. Judging by the reactions in the 'Uw Post, Freule' letters to the editor page, the change was received well by its readership.

The A4 size was kept for issues 13/1967 – 52/1967 and 1/1968 – 30/1968. Following that, the size was reduced further to 25 by 17.5 cm. which it would keep from issue 31/1968 up and until the very last issue dated 52/1969. A special A3 sized, 24 page edition of TV2000 was published to commemorate the Andersons Are Go! event of february 1994. Devoid of comic strips but definitely back to the roots of TV2000: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's puppet series and all kinds of background information, trivia and lavishly illustrated with behind-the-scenes photos. To complete the likeness, the logo of TV2000, issue 41/1966 was used.

Dutch language letter from 'Lady Penelope' originating from the TV2000 offices b&w still photograph of Lady Penelope from the nightclub scene from Thunderbirds Are GO!
a letter sent by 'Lady Penelope' in answer to a subscriber's question
the enclosed picture is a still from the Thunderbirds Are GO! feature film

The team

A small team of people worked on TV2000. Editor in chief was Rein van Rooij who filled that same function for TeleVizier. He was supported by Jan G. van Gelderen and Mieke Elfering who later travelled to the Slough Studios during production of Thunderbird Six together with the winners of a TV2000 contest (issues 12/1967 and 25/1967). Her successor as of issue 9/1968 was Marja Roscam Abbing. The editorial staff had a small office in Amsterdam, at Beursstraat 23 (PO Box 1290) which also served as receiving address for the 'Uw Post, Freule' page.

Joop Bulten was responsible for the design of the magazine, assisted by a number of others. For issues 44/1966 – 6/1967 his assistant was Kees Verkaik, the following two issues he ran it alone, to be assisted by Frits van Amerongen for a year from issue 9/1967 onwards. From then on, Jaap Lekkerkerker took van Amerongen's place.

Cover price, printing and publishing

At its introduction, the 16 page TV2000 was sold for 25 cents. From january 1st, 1967 onwards the cover price would rise to 30 cents (or ƒ3.90 per 3 months via mail). Eventually, the price would be 35 cents per issue, the average cover price for a kids' magazine at that time.

Initially, Nederlandse Rotogravure Mij. would not only be the publisher of the magazine but would also print it. From issue 30/1968 (july 27th) onwards, a cheaper alternative was found in the Rome based Fratelli Spada printers, a company that was trying to make its mark in the Dutch market, printing leaflets for Vivo grocers and Royal Dutch Shell among others. Although they are well able to deliver quality printing work, the quality of TV2000 suffered highly from the transition and, from that moment on, things would only get worse.

The sources

Material for TV2000 would come from TV21 and, later on, from the Lady Penelope magazine. At first, TV21 would furnish Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds, Space Family Robinson and Agent 21/Mr. Magnet who in Holland would be called Geheim Agent 2000.

Frank Langdon's Lady Penelope stories were lifted from the similarly titled magazine, as well as Marina – het meisje van de zee (Marina – the girl from the sea), a mermaid from the Stingray series unknown to the Dutch. From the same source would later follow The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the Monkees, Daktari and the comically intended Parkers Dagboek (Parker's Diary). As time went on, TV2000, just as its British counterpart TV21, would contain more and more material unrelated to the worlds of Gerry Anderson. And, with the introduction of Thierry la Fronde and Mr. Magoo, even that relation became tenuous at best.

Text ©1995 Theo de Klerk
Additions and corrections are welcomed