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Shooting The Story
While predominantly shot in and around London, with primary production taking place at Pinewood Studios, Thunderbirds principal photography began on location in the tropical paradise of the Seychelles Islands, 175 square miles of relatively unspoiled castaway property in the Indian Ocean.

"One of the main characters of the original Thunderbirds series was Tracy Island,” notes Bevan. "On Tracy Island, there was an enormous compound and beneath the compound were all these amazing space craft. Thunderbird 1, when it took off, came up through the swimming pool. Thunderbird 3 came up through the library, and Thunderbird 2 rolled out and then took off straight up into the sky.”

Production designer John Beard and his team searched all over the world to find the right look for the island paradise that was home and secret base for the Tracy family. After scouting Australia, South Africa and other locations, Beard recalled postcards he'd seen for the Seychelles. "And I thought, ‘Hmmm,'” he recalls. "It's 115 islands, which would give us so much flexibility in terms of what we needed to shoot there. And it really does look like a South Seas paradise.”

Production utilized the islands for two purposes—to shoot live-action plates which would then be composited with visual effects for the Tracy Island exterior sequences, such as rockets launching out of the swimming pool; and to accomplish several scenes with the actors in the jungle. "There is a sequence in which the island is under attack from The Hood and his henchmen, and the three children have to make their way up to a remote transmitter in the middle of the island to try to send a message to Alan's dad, who is trapped on Thunderbird 5,” Bevan explains.

Both Praslin and North Island doubled for exterior shots on Tracy Island, including beaches and hilltops. Zimbawe Hill provided the exterior for the satellite station point, while Anse Lazio beach provided the backdrop for the launch of Thunderbird 2 from its underground silo and a jungle chase sequence was shot at Vallee de Mai.

The filmmakers were lucky enough to get permission to film in the giant palm forest, Vallee de Mai on Praslin Island, which is the world's smallest natural World Heritage site. The 19.5 hectare palm forest is home to the famous Coco de Mer palm and receives 200 to 400 visiting tourists a day.

After two weeks in the Seychelles, production moved to exterior locations in and around London, including Cliveden Manor, Berkshire, which doubled for Lady Penelope's stately home; Wellington College, Berkshire, which doubled for Alan's school; as well as popular sightseeing destinations such as Tower Bridge and the London Eye.

For one sequence, the filmmakers wanted to fly underneath Tower Bridge and land in Jubilee Gardens, a feat that required six months of negotiations between the production and local officials.

Some exterior sets, as well as interiors, were constructed on nine of Pinewood Studios' legendary stages, including the Tracy Island compound. "It was much safer for us to build it inside, both for the building time and to ensure a timely shoot—it was more secure to replicate the sunny clime on a stage than to have to depend upon Mother Nature providing regular good weather on location,” explains John Beard.

Beard approached the design of the set using the same kind of timeless hybrid of modern retro fused with the original look of the show. "The design today is looking back to a kind of ‘60s and ‘70s futurism—with the popularity of things like the revamped Mini and Beetle cars—yet I knew I had to keep the recognizable elements from the original, such as the swimming pool, the diving board and so forth. So, gradually a look evolved for the island.”

Tracy Island was constructed on one of the biggest stages at Pinewood. The set consisted of one of the Tr


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