Cameraman Gordon Buchanan has close brush with polar bear

Gordon Buchanan and polar bear inside Ice Cube Gordon Buchanan looks composed as a polar bear tries to find a way inside the 'Ice Cube'

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A wildlife cameraman has had a terrifying brush with a polar bear for the making of a new three-part series for BBC Two.

Gordon Buchanan came face to face with a hungry female polar bear while watching her from the relative safety of a hardened plastic cage.

The polar bear - the world's largest and most dangerous land predator - spent 40 minutes trying to break through the cage, called the 'Ice Cube', in which Buchanan was observing her for The Polar Bear Family and Me.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Friday, the cameraman said it was 'one of the most terrifying things that I've ever done'.

Buchanan explained that the polar bear picked up his scent through the door in the cube and went straight for him, ignoring seal breathing holes that were nearby.

'It was a strange mixture of terror and comedy because it just felt like a monumentally stupid thing to do,' he told Breakfast presenters Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt.

The Polar Bear Family and Me sees Buchanan track a polar bear family - mother Lyra and cubs Miki and Luca - in Svalbard.

Buchanan - who has worked for nearly 20 years as a cameraman - spent three seasons in the Arctic in the hope of forming an intimate picture of polar bear life at a critical point in the animal's history.

The cameraman arrives after the warmest year on record has produced the earliest snow melt. It's the smallest amount of summer sea ice in over three million years, making survival extremely challenging for this young family.

The presenter of the series wanted a close encounter, he told Breakfast, but he judged that maybe he got a bit more than he bargained for.

'I just wanted be out there on the ice, by myself, and have a close encounter but, you know, it was a bit too close for comfort,' he said.

The presenter also explained that he could hear his heart hammering in his chest as the BBC camera team - stationed 250 metres away in a truck - filmed the encounter with a long lens.

This latest series is a sequel to The Bear Family and Me, also fronted by Buchanan. The cameraman is an expert in filming predators, including tigers, leopards, jaguars and lions.

  • The Polar Bear Family and Me, January 14, BBC Two

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