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The Frozen Planet title cover

Frozen Planet is a nature documentary series, co-produced by the BBC, the Discovery Channel and The Open University. It was filmed by the BBC Natural History Unit. Other production partners are the Discovery Channel Canada, ZDF (Germany), Antena 3 (Spain) and Skai TV (Greece). The production team, which includes executive producer Alastair Fothergill and series producer Vanessa Berlowitz, were previously responsible for the award-winning series The Blue Planet (2001) and Planet Earth (2006), and Frozen Planet is billed as a sequel of sorts. David Attenborough returns as narrator, and the series was shot entirely in HD.

The seven-part series focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The production team were keen to film a comprehensive record of the natural history of the polar regions, because climate change is affecting landforms such as glaciers, ice shelves, and the extent of sea ice.

Whilst the series was broadcast in full in the UK, the BBC has made the series available to syndicate with the seventh part which focuses on climate change episode optional in order to help the show sell better abroad. It was originally announced that in the United States, the Discovery Channel would air only the first six parts although it has since been announced they would screen all seven parts.


Frozen Planet was filmed and produced by the BBC Natural History Unit, other production partners are the Discovery Channel Canada, ZDF (Germany), Antena 3 (Spain) and Skai TV (Greece). David Attenborough narrarated the series, which was produced by Alastair Fothergill and series producer Vanessa Berlowitz, who were previously responsible for other award-winning natural history series such as The Blue Planet (2001) and Planet Earth (2006).


Filming finished in 2010 and focused on the challenges facing polar bears and arctic wolves in the north and adelie penguins and wandering albatrosses in the south, although many other storylines are developed. After an introductory episode, the subsequent four episodes depict the changing seasons at the poles, before an episode focusing on mankind’s activities there. The final episode, "On Thin Ice", focuses on the changes in the polar regions. Filmmakers worked in new locations, including Antarctica’s active volcanoes and the Russian Arctic. Sequences captured include migrating eider ducks, footage of a fur seal colony from the air, and pack hunting of seals by orca. The aerial photography used the Cineflex and Gyron cameras pioneered on Planet Earth, which enable steady footage to be captured from long-range without disturbing the animals.

From late April to early May 2009, BBC crews were in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada filming the annual breakup of the river of the same name, which flows into Great Slave Lake.


Frozen Planet was broadcast on BBC One and BBC HD starting 26 October 2011 and quickly became a ratings success, with the second episode broadcasted on 2 November 2011 becoming the highest rating Natural History programme in the UK since 2001. The Australian broadcast followed one day later on 27 October on the Nine Network and the United States broadcast on Discovery scheduled for early 2012. The Discovery Channel originally declined to broadcast the final episode, dealing with climate warming issues, in the United States. They have subsequently reversed that standing and will air the controversial 7th episode as aired in the UK, hosted by David Attenborough. Alec Baldwin will provide narration for the first six installments.


All episode names from BBC website. Ratings include overnight audience shares, with consolidated viewers supplied by BARB.

1. "To the Ends of the Earth"[]

UK broadcast 26 October 2011, 8.81 million viewers (27.4% audience share);

Our journey begins with David at the North Pole, as the sun returns after six months of darkness. We follow a pair of courting polar bears, which reveal a surprisingly tender side. Next stop is the giant Greenland ice cap, where waterfalls plunge into the heart of the ice and a colossal iceberg calves into the sea. Humpback whales join the largest gathering of seabirds on earth to feast in rich Alaskan waters. Further south, the tree line marks the start of the Taiga forest, containing one third of all trees on earth. Here, 25 of the world's largest wolves take on formidable bison prey. At the other end of our planet, the Antarctic begins in the Southern Ocean where surfing penguins struggle to escape a hungry sea-lion and teams of orcas create giant waves to wash seals from ice floes -a filming first. Diving below the ice, we discover prehistoric giants, including terrifying sea spiders and woodlice the size of dinner plates. Above ground, crystal caverns ring the summit of Erebus, the most southerly volcano on earth. From here we retrace the routes of early explorers across the formidable Antarctic ice-cap – the largest expanse of ice on our planet. Finally, we rejoin David at the South Pole, exactly one hundred years after Amundsen then Scott were the first humans to stand there. Produced by Vanessa Berlowitz.

2. "Spring"[]

UK broadcast 2 November 2011, 9.72 million viewers (31.4% audience share);

Spring arrives in the polar regions, and the sun appears after an absence of five months; warmth and life return to these magical ice worlds – the greatest seasonal transformation on our planet is underway. Male Adelie penguins arrive in Antarctica to build their nests – it takes a good property to attract the best mates and the males will stop at nothing to better their rivals! But these early birds face the fiercest storms on the planet. In the Arctic, a polar bear mother is hunting with her cubs. Inland, the frozen rivers start to break up and billions of tons of ice are swept downstream in the greatest of polar spectacles. This melt-water fertilizes the Arctic Ocean, feeding vast shoals of Arctic cod and narwhal. The influx of freshwater accelerates the breakup of the sea-ice – an area of ice the size of Australia will soon vanish from the Arctic. On land, a woolly bear caterpillar emerges from the snow having spent the winter frozen solid. Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching, but life is so harsh here that the woolly bear takes 14 years to reach adulthood. Once mature it has only days to find a mate before it dies! Alongside the caterpillars white Arctic wolves race to raise their adorable cubs before the cold returns. In Antarctica vast numbers of seabirds arrive on South Georgia joining the giant albatross and king penguins that have been there all winter. Elephant seals fight furious battles over females on a beach that contains the greatest mass of animals on the planet. Finally, the female Adelie penguins arrive, chased from the water by killer whales. Mating and chick rearing lie ahead of them. The final part of the programme shows how some of the filming was done, at Cape Crozier, where the Adelie penguin colony was filmed, the crew survived tremendous storms, reminiscent of the storms survived by members of Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition in the same area, as documented in The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Produced by Mark Linfield.

3. "Summer"[]

UK broadcast 9 November 2011, 8.84 million viewers (29.0% audience share);

It is high summer in the polar regions, and the sun never sets. Vast hordes of summer visitors cram a lifetime of drama into one long, magical day; they must feed, fight and rear their young in this brief window of plenty. Summer is a tough time for the polar bear family, as their ice world melts away and the cubs take their first swimming lesson. Some bears save energy by dozing on icy sun beds, while others go egg-collecting in an Arctic tern colony, braving bombardment by sharp beaks. The tundra is home to snowy owls, with a male catching lemmings for his mate and chicks, while she guards them from Arctic skuas. There are even bigger battles on the tundra; a herd of musk oxen gallop to the rescue as a calf is caught in a life and death struggle with a pair of Arctic wolves. But summer also brings surprises, as a huge colony of 400,000 king penguins cope with an unlikely problem – heat. The adults go surfing, while the woolly-coated chicks take a cooling mud bath. Nearby, a bull fur seal is prepared to fight to the death with a rival. Fur flies as the little pups struggle desperately to keep out of the way of the duelling giants. Further south, a minke whale is hunted amongst the ice floes by a family of killer whales. The dramatic chase lasts over 2 hours and has never been filmed before. The killers harry the minke whale, taking it in turns to wear it down. Eventually it succumbs to the relentless battering. Finally, comical adelie penguins waddle back to their half a million strong colony like clockwork toys. The fluffy chicks need constant feeding and protection as piratical skuas patrol the skies. When an unguarded chick is snatched, a dramatic "dogfight" ensues. Produced by Miles Barton.

4. "Autumn"[]

UK broadcast 16 November 2011, 7.29 million viewers (22.3% audience share);

For the animals in the polar regions, autumn means dramatic battles and epic journeys. Time is running out – the Arctic Ocean is freezing over and the sea ice is advancing at 2.5 miles per day around Antarctica. Polar bears gather in large numbers on the Arctic coast as they wait for the return of the ice. Soon, tempers fray and violent sparring contests break out. Meanwhile 2,000 beluga whales head for one special estuary, a gigantic 'whale spa' where they will thrash their snow-white bodies against the gravel and exfoliate. Inland, the tundra undergoes a dramatic transformation from green to fiery red. Here, musk ox males slam head-first into each other with the force of a 30mph car crash as they struggle to defend their harems. Frisky young caribou males play a game of 'grandma's footsteps' as they try to steal the boss's female. Down in Antarctica, Adelie penguin chicks huddle together in creches. When a parent returns from fishing, it leads its twins on a comical steeplechase – sadly there's only enough for one, so the winner gets the meal. Two months later and the chicks are fully feathered apart from downy Mohican hairdos – they're ready to take their first swim – reluctantly though, as it seems penguins are not born with a love of water! And with good reason – a leopard seal explodes from the sea and pulls one from an ice floe, a hunting manoeuvre that has never been filmed before. As winter approaches and everyone has left, the giant emperor penguin arrives and makes an epic trek inland to breed. The mothers soon return to the sea leaving the fathers to hold the eggs and endure the coldest winter on earth. Produced by Miles Barton.

5. "Winter"[]

UK broadcast 23 November 2011, 8.29 million viewers (27.2% audience share);

There is no greater test for life than winter, as temperatures plummet to 70 below and winds reach 200kph. Darkness and ice extend across the polar regions and only a few remarkable survivors gamble on remaining. We join a female polar bear trekking into the Arctic mountains to give birth as the first blizzards arrive. Out on the frozen ocean, the entire world's population of spectacled eider ducks brave the winter in a giant ice hole kept open by ferocious currents. Arctic forests transform into a wonderland of frost and snow – the scene of a desperate and bloody battle between wolf and bison, but also where a remarkable alliance between raven and wolverine is made. Beneath the snow lies a magical world of winter survivors. Here tiny voles dodge the clutches of the great grey owl, but cannot escape the ultimate under-show predator – the least weasel. Midwinter and a male polar bear wanders alone across the dark, empty icescape. Below the snow, polar bear cubs begin life in an icy den while fantastical auroras light the night skies above. In Antarctica, we join male emperor penguins in their darkest hour, battling to protect precious eggs from fierce polar storms. Weddell seals escape to a hidden world of jewel-coloured corals and alien-looking creatures but frozen devastation follows as sinister ice stalactites reach down with deadly effect. The sun finally returns, and with it comes the female emperor penguins, sleek and fat, ready to deliver the first meal to their precious chick. Having survived winter, this ultimate ice family now have a head start in raising baby. The Adelies flood back and as the ice edge bustles with life, male emperor penguins can finally return to the sea. Produced by Kathryn Jeffs.

6. "The Last Frontier"[]

UK broadcast 30 November 2011, 6.64 million viewers (19.2% audience share);

The documentary series reveals the extraordinary riches and wonders of the polar regions that have kept people visiting them for thousands of years. Today, their survival relies on a combination of ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science. Most Arctic people live in Siberia, either in cities like Norilsk - the coldest city on earth - or out on the tundra, where tribes like the [Dolgans] survive by herding reindeer, using them to drag their homes behind them. On the coast, traditional people still hunt walrus from open boats - it is dangerous work, but one big walrus will feed a family for weeks. Settlers are drawn to the Arctic by its abundant minerals; the Danish Armed Forces maintain their claim to Greenland's mineral wealth with an epic dog sled patrol, covering 2,000 miles through the winter. Above, the spectacular northern lights can disrupt power supplies so scientists monitor it constantly, firing rockets into it to release a cloud of glowing smoke 100 kilometres high. In contrast, Antarctica is so remote and cold that it was only a century ago that the first people explored the continent. Captain Scott's hut still stands as a memorial to these men. Science is now the only significant human activity allowed; robot submarines are sent deep beneath the ice in search of new life-forms, which may also be found in a labyrinth of ice caves high up on an active volcano. Above, colossal balloons are launched into the purest air on earth to detect cosmic rays. At the South Pole there is a research base designed to withstand the world's most extreme winters. Cut off from the outside world for six months, the base is totally self-sufficient, even boasting a greenhouse. Produced by Dan Rees.

7. "On Thin Ice"[]

UK broadcast 7 December 2011, 8.07m million viewers (27.4% audience share);

David Attenborough journeys to both polar regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be open ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. It also means that Killer Whales are now able to live alongside Bowhead Whales in terratory that was previously covered with too much ice. Next David travels to see what is happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It is not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009. Produced by Dan Rees.

8. "The Epic Journey"[]

UK broadcast 28 December 2011;

The Frozen Planet Christmas Special brings together highlights of the series, taking viewers on a journey through the entire polar year - from the depths of winter to the melting world of the polar summer. In the south, spring starts with the comical stone-stealing Adelie penguin males. In summer the females return and the parents struggle to raise their chicks before the big freeze of autumn. In the north, tiny polar bear cubs begin their lives under the snow, while the male faces the harshest winter on Earth. Will all three cubs survive as the ice melts beneath their feet? These stories, together with unforgettable moments from Frozen Planet's other characters, play out against breathtaking polar scenery in this one-hour special. Produced by Dan Rees.


There was some controversy regarding the final episode of the series due to its focus on climate change, particularly in the United States where the topic is politically sensitive.

In an interview with Radio Times cited in the Daily Mail, Attenborough explains that "data from satellites collected over the last 40 years show a drop of 30% in the area of the Arctic sea ice at the end of each summer." Former UK Conservative politician Lord Lawson dismissed the idea as "alarmism", provoking a polar oceanographer working with the show to describe his criticism as "patronising", wrong and the "usual tired obfuscation and generalisation".

This episode was initially not expected to be shown in the United States. Ten networks that would have run the episode opted out, citing fear of controversy and "the reaction it might draw from America's climate change skeptics", including the fact that "the timing of a one-sided global warming programme could be particularly sensitive in the U.S., where climate change is an issue in the presidential race."

On 6 December 2011, the Discovery Channel announced that it would air the seventh and final episode of Frozen Planet. Controversy erupted last month when reports surfaced that Discovery was considering not showing the seventh episode of the series, which discusses global warming. That episode, "Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice," includes on-camera shots of Attenborough, who narrates the British version, discussing what shrinking glaciers and rising temperatures mean for people and wildlife that live in the region as well as the rest of the planet.

The BBC was accused of faking shots after it was revealed that a scene of a polar bear giving birth was filmed in a Dutch (initially reported as German) animal park. The BBC defended the shots, claiming that it would have been impossible to film the event in the wild, and that the commentary was careful not to mislead the audience. The Frozen Planet website had already explained how the filming had taken place before the story appeared in the media.


Due to the success of the two previous series (The Blue Planet and Planet Earth), the BBC has announced several items of merchandise with the anticipation of this series' success.


A Frozen Planet Book that accompanies the series has been published and released ISBN 1846079624 ISBN 978-1846079627

Open University Poster[]

A Frozen Planet Poster has been produced in collaboration with and distributed for free by The Open University. Both the Arctic Circle and Antarctica are mapped. In addition detailed profiles of the respective flora and fauna, geology and ice formations are provided as well as timelines of human exploration.


A Frozen Planet Calendar for 2012 has been released. ISBN 1847708560 ISBN 978-1847708564

Blu-ray Disc & DVD[]

Three disc Blu-ray Disc and DVD boxsets of the complete series were released on 8 December 2011 for region B and 2. These are also narrated by David Attenborough as with the TV series

External links[]

© The above is copyright of Wikipedia. I do not claim to have typed this myself, as I do not want to create any false information about the above topics, as I am just merely an avid watcher and fan of Sir David Attenborough.