July 29, 2009
The triumphant climax of On Thin Ice on Sunday (BBC 2, 9pm) cemented Ben Fogle as the nation’s favourite adventurer as he gallantly reached the South Pole after an epic month-long struggle. Throughout the compelling five-episode documentary, audiences witnessed Fogle at his most vulnerable as exhaustion and frostbite set in, but unlike his teammates Gold medal rower James Cracknell and doctor Ed Coates, even in the face of extreme pain and fear, Fogle was never less than charming, kind and supportive.
If Fogle were to choose the North Pole as his next challenge, he would be one of a handful of people that have visited both Poles – another of whom is the legendary Michael Palin.
After studying History at Oxford, Palin starred in a number of smallish TV shows until Monty Python provided his break-through. It was a single episode in BBC programme Great Railway Journeys of the World in 1980 which changed his direction forever and has since lead to Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure and Sahara.
Are the BBC grooming Fogle to fill Palin’s boots?
At 66, he is certainly getting on and Fogle’s natural and eloquent delivery is reminiscent of Shrewsbury-educated Palin. Both presenters are immediately trustworthy, enough to make you follow them to the ends of the earth (quite literally) as they invade your sitting room on a Sunday night. With the Sahara conquered in The Sand Marathon, Africa explored in Wild in Africa, the Atlantic tamed in Through Hell and High Water, USA visited in Wild on the West Coast and now a victorious expedition to the South Pole it looks like Fogle’s destiny is inevitable.
Mind you, he does like animals…perhaps David Attenborough should also watch his back? Polly Tracey