A scale model grand piano used in the much-loved cult TV puppet series Joe 90 is being sold at auction. This meticulously detailed prop appears in an episode entitled International Concerto, which was first shown in November 1968.
Joe 90 is a futuristic British TV series created and produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson — perhaps best known for making Thunderbirds and Captin Scarlet and the Mysterons. The series features Joe McClaine, a nine-year-old schoolboy who, rather like Neo in The Matrix, can be “programmed” with the expert skills and knowledge of someone else. As a result, he becomes a kind of junior James Bond. Made in the 1960s, the series is supposedly set in the 2000s.
The International Concerto episode concerns a concert pianist, Igor Sladek, who is also a double agent working in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, he is rumbled and has to flee to the west. To aid Sladek’s escape Joe has to become a concert pianist and take Sladek’s place. This 25-minute “spy-fi” episode is currently available to watch on YouTube (here).
Puppets and Props
Joe 90 was the last of the Anderson’s TV series to exclusively feature puppets. And although by today’s standards the shows are somewhat clunky, the actual models used are of the highest quality.
This prop piano, of course, doesn’t actually play. But the level of detail is remarkable. The keyboard is accurately rendered – 88 notes (A to C). So often artists and craftsmen get the keyboard wrong! The lid and fallboard close. The frame is strung. And there is even a matching stool with height adjuster. The prop measures an impressive 20in(W) x 21in(H) x 30.5in(L)… (50 x 53 x 79mm).
The piano has appeared at several Anderson exhibitions/conventions but is usually displayed with Lady Penelope (from Thunderbirds) perched on the stool.
The Joe 90 prop piano is being sold as part of the Simon Archer Collection. Archer, a professional journalist was commissioned to write Gerry Anderson’s official biography. He also amassed a huge collection of Anderson memorabilia. Sadly Archer died in 1993, and his collection, which has been in storage for many years, has only now come onto the market.
A Joe 90 storybook, in which the piano features, is also included in the sale.
The opening bid is £600 UK ($815), and the auctioneer’s estimate is £800-£1,200.
Auctioneers: Excalibur Auctions Ltd, Kings Langley, Herts, UK
Sale: Movie TV and Music – Posters & Memorabilia
Date: Saturday, 12-Feb-2022 (start 10:00 GMT)
Lot no: 555
Description: Joe 90 prop piano, stool and storybook.
Full details can be found on the auctioneer’s website.
All images courtesy Excalibur Auctions Ltd.
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But what is that totally hip organ in the theme tune?
I always thought that this was a Farfisa Compact Duo (electric organ), however, the notes from this excellent YouTube recreation of the theme say that it was a Farfisa Transicord accordion. This Transichord actually incorporated much of the sound generating electronics of the Compact Duo, so I was partly right.
Amazing! What a font of knowledge……