Guest post: Thunderbirds are Go, says Paul Hudson from the RAF Museum London

We’re delighted at the sector’s response to the offer of TV publicity we made yesterday afternoon – it was a really quick turnaround but PR coordinator Pandora has been handling the flurry of enquiries with aplomb! We were also incredibly chuffed this morning to see that Museums at Night campaign ambassador Lauren Laverne has used her column in the latest edition of Grazia magazine to shine a light on the weekend by writing a thoughtful appreciation of why it’s so exciting to visit arts and heritage sites after dark.

On a personal note, I’m delighted that the video interview I filmed over Skype with the Nuit des Musées team is up on their website – in fact, I’m one of the Faces of the Night! It’s an enormous honour. To see me enthusing about the  museum exhibits I’m most fond of (it’s strange how skeletons and frisky dogs stick in the mind) head to the Nuit des Musées website, scroll down and click on my smiling face on the right hand side!

Today’s guest post comes from Paul Hudson, Head of Marketing at the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, who explains the process his team went through to devise their FAB Museums at Night Thunderbirds extravaganza!

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This year is the first year that the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale will be taking part in Museums at Night. Accordingly, staff decided that we should celebrate this fact in as imaginative manner as possible, to make the evening truly special.

We could do a 1940s evening – they are popular but no, people would expect that of us. How about a flypast and a late opening with a concert? Again, popular but something that we’ve already done. Also, a flypast would have to be early in the evening, which, whilst spectacular, would mean that the night would peak too early.

A green toy rocket

Thunderbird 2 flies past (c) David Sisson

What if we decided to give our regular adult visitors, particularly those who have children, the evening off – but allow them to re-connect with their inner-child for a few hours? What if we took them back to their own childhoods of the 60s and 70s? We all have hectic lifestyles, where we’re all running around balancing work with family responsibilities – and let’s face it life is rather challenging for us adults at the moment. A couple of hours off to recapture the excitement of being a child again – now that would be different….

A toy Captain Scarlet figure

Heroic institution Captain Scarlet (c) David Sisson

So what to do? Given that the RAF is a British institution that is respected the world over, it was clear that our evening had to be about a British institution which was respected by children growing up in the UK during the 60s and 70s. This institution had to reflect the excitement that our younger visitors show on meeting the RAF Personnel visiting the museum, particularly during our activities such as Helicopter Half Term and Search and Rescue Week.

We needed to put together an evening about an international institution devoted to search and rescue which children loved in the 60s and 70s… one that had a distinctly British feeling to it. There could be only one answer: Lady Penelope, Parker and International Rescue – The Thunderbirds!

A pastel pink retro toy car

FAB 1, Lady Penelope's car from Thunderbirds (c) David Sisson

So, on Saturday 14th May, the museum will be opening its doors to adults only until 11pm. Guests are invited to turn up in costume as their favourite Thunderbirds characters and meet Sylvia Anderson, the voice of Lady Penelope. At the same time we’ll be showing episodes from the series in the Museum’s cinema; there will be various models from the show on display, plus Captain Scarlett and an Eagle from Space 1999; and we’ll be running a play area filled with giant sized versions of classic children’s games such as ‘Operation’ and ‘Kerplunk!’

4 smiling people wearing 3D glasses

A sense of wonder: visitors enjoying the 3D cinema in the RAF Museum's Milestones of Flight Hangar. Image courtesy of the Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum.

All in all it should be a fun evening and one where, personally, I hope that our visitors will re-awaken their inner child for a few short hours and re-examine our aircraft collection with the same wonderment I see, so often, on the faces of our younger visitors. How totally F.A.B!

A man in a suit beaming

Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson is the Head of Marketing at the Royal Air Force Museum – a place he first fell in love with after visiting it with his grandfather at the tender age of 11. A child of the 70s, he spent too many hours hiding behind sofas whilst watching Dr. Who – he blames ‘Planet of the Spiders’ for his rampant arachnophobia – and day-dreaming about being a member of the Thunderbirds crew when he should have been concentrating on his maths homework. His favourite toy, as a young boy, was a metal Corgi model of Thunderbird 2 which went with him everywhere from ages of 4 to 6 until he lost it on a beach holiday at Rhyl.

You can visit the RAF Museum’s website: http://www.rafmuseum.org, connect with them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/rafmuseum, or keep up with their news on Twitter by following @RAFMuseum!

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