Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Thin Ice

On Thin Ice features Posh Totty Ben Fogle, Posh Sporty Totty James Cracknell, and another bloke called Dr Ed.

Dr Ed replaces Sick Boy Jonny Lee Miller, who wimped out after running the London Marathon with a feeble excuse about acting commitments or something. You haven't been in anything decent since before you were married to Angelina Jolie, Sick Boy. Don't pretend you still have a career.

What are they doing thoughbut? Well, it's officially one hundred years since Scott's catastrophic expedition to the Antarctic, and some weirdo has come up with the idea restaging said tragic catastrophe. As a race. Against the Norwegian equivalent of the SAS and other national teams - probably also full of their national SAS types. Honestly, you'd think there wasn't a war on.

Actually, maybe the fact that our SAS boys are a bit busy right now is why the BBC thought it would be a bloody good idea to send an ex Olympic rower, a TV presenter who likes dogs, and a bloke called Ed instead.

At the start of the "journey" (two weeks ago), Jonny Lee Miller issues the feeble excuse and hops off, making way for an X-factor style call for nutters volunteers to take his place. They whittle it down to two very fit and slightly odd blonde ladies and Dr Ed. Dr Ed wins, possibly because he is a) a doctor and good for emergency frostbite amputations; and b) because the chaps are already married to slightly scary-looking blonde ladies, who also happen to be pregnant. James and Ben probably didn't fancy explaining that one.

Dr Ed is put on a gruelling training regime to catch up with the other chaps, which seems to involve camping in a giant fridge and pulling tyres across the Highlands. Ben falls ill. James thinks he's a big girly wimp. Ben discovers that he has picked up a Flesh Eating Bacteria that is currently chomping through his arm! James says: "Huh!" and strides off into the Scottish twilight, tyre bumping behind him. Ben grows a beard and sits sadly at home while Dr Ed and James become best friends in the big fridge.

Ben gets better again, and rushes to catch up with Dr Ed and James. James growls and points his chin at the horizon. They have all grown beards. Perhaps beards are a good idea in the Antarctic because they trap the air around your face and make it less cold? I don't know, but there don't seem to be many razors down there.

At the start of the "race", we get to see what they're up against, but only the Norwegians are introduced. Yes, that's the Norwegian special forces, from Norway, where it is cold and it snows a lot. The Norwegians seem bloody nice chaps, and Ben gets on famously with them. James growls.

The chaps set a blistering pace for the first day: though I'm not sure how they can tell how far they've come without GPS. How did Scott et al do it? Didn't they just walk around in circles until somebody said: "I'm sure I've seen that iceberg shaped like Lily Langtry before..."

Antartica is cold, white, and appears to be flat, though GIANT CREVASSES can APPEAR SUDDENLY with VERY LITTLE WARNING, which could be DEADLY.(NB: this is the general tone of the narration throughout: it's like Masterchef with snow).

Blistering pace is the correct term, by the way, for it turns out that, while Dr Ed and Ben were very sensible about their feet, stopping and adjusting their footwear when their feet start feeling a bit tingly, James snorted derisively and strode through the pain. At the end of the day, his feet are frozen balls of pus, and poor old Dr Ed has to get busy with the penknife and Savlon. But it means that they have to slow down a bit.

The Norwegians catch up with them on Day 4 or thereabouts, and Ben's delighted to have a lovely chat with the lovely Norwegians. One of the Norwegians says he's going to propose to his girlfriend when he gets home. Ben says "Ahhh!" James scowls.

I fell asleep before the end but apparently James's exhausting pace leaves him...exhausted. By the time they get to the halfway point, it looks like James can't carry on. Oh noes!

Now, I thought this was a three-ep special, but it turns out we have another three episodes. Three episodes of snow, ice, gruesome closeups of blistered feet, red tents against the midnight sun, Ben being lovely and stoic and James howling at the moon. Can't wait...

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