Frozen Planet Review: Ice To See You Attenborough

FROZEN PLANET: Wednesday 26th October, BBC1, 9pm

There are two occasions where a documentary featuring the soothing tones of David Attenborough are is particularly welcome: One is in the midst of a monumental hangover, the other is when laid up on the sofa feeling poorly and rather sorry for oneself. I am currently experiencing the latter of these two undesirable scenarios, so watching the legendary Attenborough’s latest on-screen exploration into the world of ice and snow was an entirely welcome experience.

True to form, 85-year-old Sir A was not intimidated by the prospect of journeying to the location of his latest BBC One wildlife documentary. Sub-zero temperatures and battering winds? No problem. Many of us may currently be resisting the onset of winter and camping out in our very own icy tundra, but last night’s inaugural episode of Frozen Planet put a chilly home into serious perspective as we journeyed with David into the “last true wildernessâ€?.

Following the staggering success of previous series such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life and countless others, it would have been disappointing to see a weak link in the exemplary chain. But Frozen Planet delivered all the knowledge, excitement and breathtaking photography we have come to expect from an Attenborough nature series. Beginning casually with a rare glimpse of the mating rituals of the polar bear, it is easy to take for granted the incredible action which fills every frame of this programme. The camera team have an eye for spotting and presenting the more idiosyncratic elements to otherwise textbook encounters. A male polar bear rolling around in apparent ecstacy after catching the scent of a lovely female on the Arctic breeze was one of the most endearing scenes of the whole episode.

Alongside the carefully captured action and stunning scenery shots, an intelligent voice over provided us captive students with more incredible facts than a geography textbook ever did. The glacier that moves 40 metres a day, the ice which can reach 3 miles thick, the frozen sea the size of Europe – utterly absorbing stuff. For me, one of the most memorable highlights was the birth of a new iceberg; An event captured on camera and accompanied by a roaring classical soundtrack which would put any Roland Emmerich film to shame.

As always the animals are entertaining, but it is the sparkling ice crystals of the underground caves and slow motion close-ups on the development of snowflakes which are truly stunning. It becomes increasingly difficult to work out just how humans were able to get such unbelievable shots. Never fear, the supplementary behind-the-scenes mini-documentary was there to give us a glimpse into the dedication, patience and skill involved with capturing the frozen world. But it does not reveal all the team’s secrets which was a bit of a relief, the magical mystery of it all is part of the attraction.
This is what we pay our TV license for viewers.