Last updated: 20 june, 2012 - 16:04 GMT

Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast 2012

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The BBC's Martin Redfern presents half an hour of music requests and special messages for the staff at the British Antarctic Survey.

Produced and presented for an audience of just 44 - the brave and hardy scientists and technical staff who keep the Antarctic bases of the British Antarctic Survey running through the long, cold darkness of the polar winter - the Antarctic Specials are possibly the World Service's most unusual broadcasts.

Once a year, on 21 June, in the dark days of the Southern winter, staff at the four Antarctic bases cluster round their shortwave radios to hear the BBC present half an hour of music requests and special messages from their loved ones back home.

This year there are eight people stationed at King Edward Point on South Georgia, just four on Bird Island nearby. There are 18 at the biggest base, Rothera, on Adelaide Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, and 14 at Halley, the furthest South, on the Brunt Ice Shelf. Halley VI is a brand new base – the previous one was getting buried in snow and was threatened by a break-up of the ice shelf.

Martin Redfern interviewing scientists in Antarctica

Martin Redfern recording for BBC World Service inside an ice cave in the Rothera Glacier

There are special messages in the programme from surprise celebrity guests, and a selection of music that reveals a deep longing for sunshine!

This year the broadcast is presented by Martin Redfern, who was fortunate to spend a month in Antarctica four years ago, reporting on research and visiting field sites and the Rothera base.

As a result, says Martin, "We feel we are talking to friends. We can imagine the scene down there.

“And, although we were only there for a few weeks in Summer, we know how food fantasies turn to salad and fresh fruit!"

For more details about the work of the British Antarctic Survey visit the link on the right.

First broadcast on 21 June 2012

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