On Thin Ice – BBC Two


Eighteen months on from completing their incredible Atlantic Rowing Race, Ben Fogle and James Cracknell are ready for another challenge. This time, they want to do something even harder, bigger and more difficult … a race to the South Pole.

Described as one of the toughest endurance races on the planet, the challenge involves ski-racing 480 miles while pulling a 150lb sled, facing temperatures of up to -50°C and negotiating crevasses, frost-bite and severe physical exhaustion in one of the world’s most hostile environments.

As polar novices, it seems that Ben and James have little chance of success against the more experienced teams, but their partnership has a fantastic drive, determination and competitive spirit – one which propelled them to success across the Atlantic. However, there’s another hurdle, too, as the South Pole Race is a three-man event, so choosing the right person to complete their team could mean the difference between success and failure.

Tonight’s opening episode goes back to October 2007, 15 months before the start of the race, with Ben and James kicking off their training at The Great North Run. They then go on to experience the extreme cold for the first time in a climatic chamber. Here, they face temperatures as low as -80°C over a 24-hour period.

The search is also on for the third team-mate. After weeks of deliberation, they recruit Hollywood actor and keen marathon runner Jonny Lee Miller and, together, they attend the first race-training session in Arctic Norway with the other teams. Facing stiff competition and blizzards is a baptism of fire for the three polar novices, but they pull through, bonding and having learnt new essential survival skills.

Next week, as their training progresses, cracks start to appear and Jonny drops a bombshell which could threaten the whole expedition.

Sunday 28 June
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO