Behind the scenes of the new-look Thunderbirds Are Go

Don't worry, you can still build Tracy Island as the makers of the ITV reboot explain...

Fifty years after the world first thrilled to the rocket-propelled exploits of International Rescue, those magnificent Thunderbirds — and the Tracy brothers who flew them — return this week.

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The best-loved puppet show of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson has been given a 21st-century makeover, but one that respects its predecessor. So out go the puppets and in comes computer animation, but the famous modelwork of the 1965-6 sci-fi series. ground-breaking in its day, is preserved.

“We had no intention of messing with what already worked,” says executive producer Giles Ridge. “It’s a classic for a reason.”

“So while the new show has CG craft and characters, the majority of the backgrounds are miniatures, achieved in the same way as the original series.”

The new Tracy Island

Indeed, such old-school techniques have proved a virtue in a teeming market of computer-generated series.

Ridge adds: “We thought, rather than follow the crowd, let’s play tribute to the original and offer today’s audience something different by incorporating that same love and attention to detail by building with models.”

The 26-part ITV series is a co-production with New Zealand, with effects by Weta Workshop, famous for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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Thunderbirds Are Go begins on ITV today (Saturday 4th April) at 5.00pm