Press Office

Wednesday 23 Apr 2014

Programme Information

Network TV BBC Week 43

Frozen Planet

A bespoke underwater tripod bolted to the ice ceiling captured amazing shots

Frozen Planet

Wednesday 26 October on BBC ONE

Frozen Planet is David Attenborough's ultimate portrait of the last great wilderness on Earth – the Polar regions. Produced by the team behind the multi-award winning Planet

Earth, the series uses the latest in filming technology to portray the Arctic and Antarctic as they have never been seen before – and may never be seen again.

Filming firsts
• Killer whales team up to generate giant waves that knock seals from ice floes. Considered by scientists to be the most complex team hunt ever filmed in the natural world.

• Astonishing footage of a bizarre underwater phenomenon – the brinicle, or "icy finger of death". The 3m-long ice stalactite plunges towards the sea bed killing everything it touches.

• A team of killer whales catch a minke whale after an epic 2.5hr chase.

• A pack of 25 wolves bring down a bison – the largest wolf prey in the world – filmed simultaneously from ground and air to bring a totally fresh insight.

• A crew spent four months – a record number of days – living among an Adélie penguin colony.

• Record number of aerial filming hours spent over Antarctica flying from the ice edge to the South Pole, retracing the steps of early explorers.

• Record number of aerial filming hours over the Greenland ice sheet.

• One of the largest single iceberg calving events ever captured on film at Store Glacier, Greenland.

• First time David Attenborough has been to the North Pole.

What does it take to make a polar series?

• 4 years in production

• A record 2,356 days in the field

• 1.5 years at sea

• More than 6 months out on the sea ice

• 134 hours filming under the ice

• 38 sled dogs

• 33 skidoos

• 28 helicopters

• 22 boats

• 12 reindeer

• 10 quad bikes

• 8 sets of snow shoes

• 5 amphibious vehicles

• 2 powerful icebreakers – one in the North, the other in the South

• 1 Royal Naval ice patrol vessel – HMS Endurance

• 2,118 dehydrated meals eaten

• 35 days trapped in tents by blizzards

• 425 days at temperatures below -15°C

• 598 pairs of thermals

• 38 cameramen

• Longest time in the field – 124 days

• Lowest temperature experienced on the ground: -50°C within the ice at the South Pole

• Highest winds experienced – 148mph

Programme Highlights

Prog 1 – To The Ends Of The Earth

An orca drags a seal into the water to drown it

• David Attenborough visited the North Pole for the first time in his career.

• A pack of 25 wolves bring down a bison filmed simultaneously from ground and air to bring a totally fresh insight.

• A crew films 22 attacks by killer whales on seals in Antarctica. With the help of a pair of scientists, who satellite tagged the pod, the crew were able to follow them day and night, filming the killer whales as they teamed up to generate giant waves to knock seals from the ice floes. Pioneering use of the aerial camera mounted onto the yacht, a second stabilised camera and a polecam enabled the crew to capture multiple angles on this remarkable behaviour.

• Ground-breaking footage of a rapidly advancing glacier.

• Multiple camera shoot of a major calving event as a giant iceberg was spawned off Greenland.

• Extensive aerial filming of Antarctica, capturing unique images of the molten heart of a live volcano.

Prog 2 – Spring

A cameraman gets a shock as a killer whale mother and calf explode out of the water

• The crew endured katabatic winds of 148mph while filming Adélie penguins in spring.

• The fascinating life-cycle of the woolly bear caterpillar is revealed. Instead of turning into a moth the same year it hatches from the egg, the caterpillar freezes solid each winter and then thaws and resumes eating in spring. It takes 14 years to complete its life-cycle!

• While they knelt on the ice edge, the crew were forced to look up at giant killer whales spy-hopping above their heads – they and their cameras got covered in oily whale breath!

• The spring team captured the spectacular moment when a giant frozen waterfall gave way and released the flow of a major Arctic river in Canada.

Prog 3 – Summer

• By mounting an aerial camera to a trawler, the team captured a new perspective on the melting ice world of the Arctic in summer. They had a close encounter with a hunting

female polar bear, which came within 15 feet of them.

• A crew spent nine weeks in the company of Arctic wolves to capture unique interactions between the parents and their cubs.

• A crew spent two months at St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, on a beach where they had to build metal skirts to defend themselves against attacks from territorial seals.

• For the two months of peak breeding season, the Adélie penguin crew was surrounded by nearly 500,000 penguins – the noise and chaos nearly drove them insane!

Prog 4 – Autumn

• A crew captured the first-ever film of leopard seals exploding from the sea and snatching Adélies from ice floes.

• A crew spent three days chiselling their way through a labyrinth of sea ice to squeeze through a 1m sq hole to scuba dive with emperor penguins.

• First aerial images of baby belugas aquaplaning on their mothers' backs shot from a helicopter 300m above the water's surface.

• Dramatic images of musk ox fights – first extensive fight sequence ever shot.

• The mating battles of caribou were filmed for the first time from the air.

Prog 5 – Winter

• The crew filmed on foot with snow-shoes and cross-country skis in temperatures of -50°C. Their eyes froze shut and plastic camera parts snapped easily.

• The team were able to film a polynya – a giant hole in the ice that stays open all winter – crammed full with the total world population of spectacled eider ducks.

• Two cameramen each spent 87 hours (5,200 minutes) underwater at temperatures of almost -2°C in order to film brinicles – icy fingers of death – growing for the first time.

• The first time that the world's smallest carnivorous mammal – the least weasel – has been filmed plucking the fur from its vole prey and making a macabre fur duvet to snuggle into.

Prog 6 – The Last Frontier

• First exploration of the bizarre crystal-filled ice caves on Mt Erebus volcano by the film crew, in collaboration with a team of scientists.

• The first aerial images of the South Pole were filmed from a Twin Otter at -50°C. The camera froze solid on one flight.

• A crew followed Danish Special Forces as they patrolled Northern Greenland on dog sled through the depths of winter.

Prog 7 – On Thin Ice

David Attenborough at the North Pole

• David Attenborough stood at the North Pole on sea ice that is only a couple of metres thick.

• David Attenborough accompanied a team of Norwegian biologists who do an annual health check on Svalbard's polar bears, spending time with the bear while it was tranquillised on the ground.

• Climbing specialist Tim Fogg spent three days rigging ropes and pulleys so the crew could descend 60m down into the heart of the Greenland ice sheet inside a recently formed moulin (vertical shaft in the ice).

• A crew followed in the footsteps of Frank Hurley, to match his photographs of the glaciers of South Georgia and document the mammoth changes which have occurred to the ice since Shackleton visited the island only 100 years ago.

• The British Antarctic Survey assisted Frozen Planet in the first filming of the collapse of the Wilkins Ice Shelf – an area of ice the size of Jamaica which broke up, resulting in hundreds of giant icebergs.

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