It's safe to say that making Operation Iceberg was not easy. And because of the scale of the expedition if things went awry... they could really go awry.

Operation Iceberg is a two part series on - you've guessed it - icebergs.

Helicoptering in to plant a GPS tracker on a huge ice pinnacle

It's an interesting mixture of science and adventure with Chris Packham and Helen Czerski as the two lead presenters, ably assisted by Andy Torbet and Chris van Tulleken.

For each programme we had a gaggle of ice scientists who were willing to invest their time and expertise. We also had two film crews and a small production team - including me, the series producer.

Programme one is all about the birth of icebergs and based at a glacier in Greenland.

You'll see we had a little sailing boat right in front of the massive Store Glacier when huge tower block chunks of ice began falling off into the sea.

You can also watch a scientist leaping out of a hovering helicopter to plant a GPS at the very top of a 100m ice pinnacle.

The second episode is about an iceberg's life and death out at sea and was filmed on a huge tabular iceberg off the coast of Canada.

On the iceberg itself we had more polar bears than you could shake a stick at.

And at one point we were all on the iceberg when a large crack started to form across its surface and chunks of ice began breaking away just metres from where we were standing.

A wall of ice splits from a glacier: the birth of a new iceberg

There was a real risk that this newly created chunk of ice would flip over taking the ship with it.

Quite frankly, there were many times during the expedition when I wished that someone else was making the series.

Not surprisingly we also had a sizeable safety team who were kept very busy. One of the most interesting things I discovered was how intelligent, rational people can have such differing attitudes to safety.

Take the polar bears. I had never seen one in the wild before and it was one of the most thrilling moments of my life to see one swimming by our ship.

And then we saw another. And another. And another.

It was soon very clear that the presence of all these polar bears would severely limit what we could do. They are the largest land predator on earth and have been known to attack and kill people.

Whenever we ventured onto the ice the bears would come to take a peep at us.

Chris Packham and Doug Allan, who have had considerable experience of them, were largely unperturbed.

In the space of just half an hour the team see three polar bears - it's beartastic

They felt they could interpret the bears' behaviour and would have let them come quite close before retreating. Other people on the team were very frightened of them. And for good reason.

So one of my main jobs was persuading Chris and Doug that although in the past they'd been right next to bears, because we were now such a large team we had to be more cautious.

Simultaneously I was trying to persuade other people to actually leave the ship and go out on the ice at all.

So my job was really to try to reach a sensible middle line whereby we could still film what we needed and all come back in one piece.

After all these incidents and drama, the grand total of injuries consisted merely of a large number of mosquito bites and a small cut to the forehead.

Not bad given the things that could have happened. And now the expedition is all over I'm extremely glad I did do it. One of the most exciting adventures of my life.

Andrew Thompson is the series producer on Operation Iceberg.

Operation Iceberg starts on Tuesday, 30 October at 9pm on BBC Two and BBC HD. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

More on Operation Iceberg
Read the crew's production diaries.
See the team's photos on Flickr.
BBC News: Iceberg breaks off from Greenland's Petermann glacier.
BBC News: Who, What, Why: How do you track an iceberg?
Read the British Antarctic Survey blog about making the series.

Andrew's byline photo is courtesy of Chris Packham.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • Comment number 25. Posted by Dan Khola

    on 2 Jan 2013 17:23

    Great programme.. wish I had caught it earlier but enjoyed it over Christmas. Someone in the comments mentioned that the data captured was useless- useless?? Really?

    Perhaps the actual level of threat and danger was not understood by some. This was really ground breaking stuff- really dangerous stuff at that! Although many of the results fall in line with what some of us expected in regards to Ice-flows this is the first definitive proof for many of those theories. Show some respect!

    Also: if only a small radio-tracker or more visible means of identification could have been used on the 'Cryo-spheres'! Would've been great data. I was about to suggest a simple LED light to identify them but ofc there is little or no darkness!

    Great job... almost as good as the second episode!

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  • Comment number 24. Posted by Nick Evetts

    on 21 Nov 2012 10:36

    I enjoyed this 2 parter totally. Some very good Science mixed with adventure. I also want to thank R4 for having Helen Czerski on to talk about this show and helping me find it Well done BBC!

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  • Comment number 23. Posted by Iceman74

    on 21 Nov 2012 00:23

    What a fantastic piece of television, well done, 2 hrs of my life well spent enjoyed by the whole family. I think this crew could go on to other expeditions under the title "operation" I would certainly tune in. Look forward to the next installment and after all the viewing figures say it all.

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  • Comment number 22. Posted by green voice

    on 13 Nov 2012 11:49

    Excellent programme! Well done BBC. I have a science background and have ice-climbed and crossed on glaciers in the Alps and Alaska, including canoeing up to one in Alaska - an experience I remember vividly from 20 years ago. I was very interested in the science and this programme really bought back to me and awesome beauty and dangers around glaciers. More science would have been good, and a had a few little quibbles but I think the mix of science and dramatism and beautiful imagery was great. Glaciers are truly scary places, constantly moving, creaking and collapsing, the dangers taken by the crew were very very real.

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by bangmyheadonthewall

    on 12 Nov 2012 11:10

    This was an excellent production - even with the safety-team on hand I believe there was some serious risk in some of the activities. Great filming and science. My only gripe is the commentary and sound which borrows too much from some action movie - but didn't spoil my enjoyment.
    I would love to have been there.

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Plasingli

    on 7 Nov 2012 19:59

    I agree with Adam, and am disappointed by the snide comments of some of the others who have commented. It was good to see some serious glaciology presented in an acceptable way -- I was trained as a glacial geomorphologist, and I did not think the commentary demeaned the audience at all. OK-- it was prime time TV and both music and commentary had to be more portentious than was really warranted, but I thought there was a pretty good balance between science and entertainment. And the photography was stunning! Congratulations, BBC -- more like this please. The world of ice is AMAZING.....

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  • Comment number 19. Posted by Adam Chamberlain

    on 6 Nov 2012 13:35

    There is precious little of this type of programming on the air and many of the negative, somewhat nit-picky comments here seem both harsh and unhelpful to me, especially taking this into account. This was a rare type of documentary with some excellent content, and I for one want to add my voice to those applauding the BBC for airing it and going some way towards highlighting the big issues at the heart of the study.

    If anything, I only wish it was given a longer run, as I got the impression there was much more footage that didn't make the final programme. Here's hoping for a DVD release with some of that additional material made available, including some of the wonderful photography by Chris Packham and others showcased on the BBC website—I, for one, would snap it up! Wonderful television.

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by Barry Singleton

    on 5 Nov 2012 21:44

    Excellent program.
    However the facts regarding the iceberg having nine tenths of its size underwater is WRONG.
    AN ICEBERG HAS ONE NINTH OF ITS SIZE ABOVE THE SURFACE.
    I'm very surprised the BBC got this simple fact wrong.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by beechbark

    on 3 Nov 2012 21:38

    This was a marvellous science programme. Well done BBC for teaming up with scientists at the cutting edge who were intent on carrying out their research in such an inhospitable environment. I thoroughly enjoyed having a window into the moment when the scientists began to understand a mechanism that was previously unknown (even if it was suspected). I am a bit bemused by the people who seemed to think they watched a disappointing nature programme. I watched a science programme in which I learnt genuinely new things that probably haven't made it into much published work yet. I don't bother with TV much but I'm glad I tuned in for this one.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by TH3ORY

    on 3 Nov 2012 08:13

    hey dude in the life and Death of a Berg just before the ice berg is cracking, the guy is downloading data into his Macbook Pro he's using a case to carry his Macbook pro. What case is he using ? Please could you let me know ?Thanks p.s awesome series keep up the great work!

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