12 June 1989 – Queen began filming the promo video for ‘Breakthru,’ a powerful pop-rock song with a thumping Deacon beat that seemed to suggest the chugging of an express train. As a result, The Torpedo Twins (DoRo Productions) video was filmed on a custom painted steam train, ‘The Miracle Express,’ which took over the privately owned Nene Valley Railway in Cambridgeshire, England over two sweltering days.
The heat was the only real discomfort during the making of the video, which was a change from the usual freezing cold studios, but kept Freddie awake all night in his hotel room after the first day of shooting.
Thankfully, the open-air carriage the band were performing on as the train traveled along the line provided all involved with plenty of cool air. Despite appearances, for safety reasons, the train never traveled at speeds higher than 30 miles per hour. Nevertheless, the shoot still involved safety risks, and Freddie’s unrehearsed pull-ups over the side of the moving train were far from the least of concerns! The group insured itself for £2 million against bodily damage.
The band enjoyed making this video, Roger in particular, who was dating the masked beauty who opens the video; actress Debbie Lang.
However, it was Freddie’s idea to have her on the shoot, feeling she fitted the requirements he and the Torpedo Twins had in mind.
“I really wanted to do a sexy video and who better to do it with than Debbie Leng.” ~ Freddie Mercury
Ever the perfectionists, despite enjoying the shoot immensely, there was still one aspect of the video that neither the directors nor Freddie were entirely satisfied with. Following the cameo from Debbie, the plan was to have one of the arches of a bridge which went over the railway line filled up with a polystyrene wall which the oncoming Miracle Express could smash through as the main section of the song kicked into gear following the piano-based introduction. Due to the air pressure building up in the tunnel as the train moved towards the wall, the blocks collapsed moments before the train broke through, which Freddie felt detracted from the shock of the explosion.
The single was a chart success, peaking at number 7 in the UK and Top 10 throughout most of Europe. As a result, the video received a large amount of airplay, and proved popular with fans.
The video cost £300,000 (£719,189.40 in today’s money).
The video 👇