On Thin Ice Review: Frost In Transit

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

ON THIN ICE: Sunday 28th June, BBC2, 9pm Alert Me

Throughout our brief history the human race has proved to be resilient, adaptable and inquisitive.

We’ve explored a pretty sizable portion of this big blue planet we call home, from the snow capped peaks of giant mountains to blackest depths of uncharted waters, and Spain.

We’ve all been to Spain.

Yet there are still some places on earth that humans are woefully ill-equipped to deal with. Places that very few people have set foot on – and lived to tell the tale.

And that, I’m guessing, is BECAUSE WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO GO THERE.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a place where exposed skin can freeze in seconds, and where extremities wilt like picked flowers, isn’t going to be a day out at Thorpe Park.

But of course! That’s the point. Double Olympic medal winner James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle are on a mission to push themselves to the limits.

In 2006 the pair rowed almost 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in an epic display of strength, courage and utter stupidity.

And now they’re at it again. Only this time rather than braving mountainous waves and water shortages, they’re taking on the cold.

In what is the first race of its kind for nearly 100 years – since Scott’s ill fated expedition – Fogle and Cracknell are competing in a race on the highest, windiest, and coldest continent on the planet.

And this isn’t just hyperbole. It gets REALLY cold.

Six teams are taking part in the race which our boys are hoping to win and if they are to stand a snowball’s chance in hell, or rather a whippet’s chance at the pole, they will have to train like they’ve never trained before.

In the first episode Team Mental try to prepare themselves for the extreme conditions by going to a massive fridge-like building which can simulate the conditions they are to expect out there.

Here we learn a few basics about polar expedition: the winds reach temperatures as low at 52 degrees below zero, exposed skin will freeze in seconds and you can get frostbite on your dingdong. There’s also a word of warning from a creepy, over-excited polar expert who thrills at the idea that, ‘the cold will grab you… and hurt you.’ Riiiiiight.

For far so terrifying, but the first major obstacle is securing a third member of the team. And as you can imagine the offers aren’t flooding in.

Fortunately, Hollywood actor and one time Mr Angelina Jolie, Johnny Lee Miller, is on hand to offer his services and add a little glamour to the terribly English proceedings.

As always though the drama is cranked up to 11 to get viewers hooked. Will the team be able to ski for up to 16 hours a day, will Lee Miller be able to commit to the project, and will Fogle still be as camp once they reach the barren ice-scapes of the tundra?

There’s only one way to find out…


Jack McKay


Reckon they’re not mental enough? Check out our review of First Cut – My Father The Mercenary and equally bonkers (but brilliant) Rich, Famous & Homeless.