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"Breakdown" is the sixteenth episode of Thunderbirds Are Go!. It was broadcast on November 14th, 2015.


It's August 15 and Virgil is whistling up a tune, that is until he discovers that everyone has forgotten his birthday. Even John who seems happy to see Virgil is still around doesn't even register his sibling’s special day and informs him that he is needed on a rescue to an ice shelf near the Arctic circle. But when Virgil arrives to find the man who made the distress call he asks John to do a scan below the ground as he couldn’t see any vehicles near the man. John finds an ice melting machine and two other life signs approx 2,000 meters below the ice so Virgil assembles the Pod Explorer to investigate.

Meanwhile back on Tracy Island, Virgil's brothers are planning a surprise birthday party with Grandma Tracy making sure little fingers - like Alan's - are kept away from the food until Virgil comes back.

Below the ice, Virgil find a very stubborn and very determined Doctor Peck who is desperate to continue his mission despite the ice shelf threatening to collapsing on top of them. While Virgil is busy taking Professor Goncharov - Dr. Peck's companion - back to the surface, Dr. Peck runs off to try and find the bacterium C. platensis which he needs to further his research.

Virgil comes back to retrieve him only to have problems with the Doctor until he reveals what he needs the bacterium for, which then turns Virgil's mission from a simple breakdown to a life saving rescue.


Regular Cast

Guest Cast


  • Virgil: "One of the hazards of being a member of the world's most elite rescue team. Life doesn't stop just because it's your birthday."
  • John: "Do you have visual?"
  • Virgil: "Wow, it's beautiful! It looks like, like a huge frosted birthday cake."
  • John: "What was that?"
  • Virgil: "Uh, nothing."
  • John: "Pod Explorer, what's your status?"
  • Virgil: "Seems like they don't really want to be rescued. Perhaps we should change our name to International Breakdown."
  • John: "International Breakdown, we have a situation. Doesn't quite have the same ring to it."

International Rescue Equipment Used

Non-International Rescue Equipment Used

  • Heat Drill



  • Tracy Island is shown to be at least 200 miles off the coast of Australia.
  • When Peck's daughter says, "Daddy, you promised to read me Torchy", she is making a reference to one of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's first puppet shows: Torchy The Battery Boy.
  • The concept of Bacterium C. platensis frozen in ice may be a reference to the Pithovirus, a large virus discovered frozen inside Arctic ice.
  • Alan states that he'll be test-flying Thunderbird 1, which is possibly a reference to his previous incarnation's duty in the craft during Atlantic Inferno.
  • This episode was produced before Heavy Metal, even though this episode was broadcast during the second run.
  • So far, this is the only episode where one of the Tracy brothers (Virgil) celebrates a birthday.


  • Rasmus Hardiker is only credited with voicing Scott in this episode, but he voices Alan as well.
  • When Virgil initially descends into the cavern, he leaves a single grappler cable connected to its ceiling. As he heads back up with Goncharov, the first thing he does is fire a grappler cable up. The one he left should still be there.

Foreign Titles

  • Dutch: Defect
  • French: Accident
  • Spanish: Averia
  • Japanese: バースデー・プレゼント (Birthday Gift)