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BBC Documentaries: Season 1996

1996x02 Billy Connolly - A Scot in the Arctic

  • 1996-11-30T21:00:00+00:00 on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

Scottish comedian Billy Connolly thought Glasgow was cold, until he encountered the Arctic Circle. Armed only with the most basic survival techniques and his banjo, Billy spends 10 days there, recording his experiences and emotions on a videocamera.

Billy often jokes about his early days in Glasgow, but it left him tough, adaptable and used to the cold which should stand him in good stead when facing hunger and temperatures of minus 40 degrees Centigrade. But even this Scot will need expert guidance to survive Baffin Island in High Arctic Canada.

An Eskimo ranger gives him a crash course in some of the tricks of the trade: how to build and repair an igloo, how to make water, how to catch and cook fish, how to spot crevasses and the wrong kind of snow, how to prevent sunblindness, how to ski pulling a pulk (sledge), how to walk on snowshoes, skidooing, kayaking, how to spot the onset of frostbite and how to deal with polar bears. An SAS Army expert is also on hand to give Billy basic survival tips, especially the rules of keeping warm.

With great good humour, Billy fortifies himself for the real challenge which is to come: two days
completely on his own. Only his self-operated video camera holds the secret of his hours of solitude long, lonely evenings and nights with no crew and no one to call on the phone. Hours during which he is contemplative, melancholy, miserable, witty and plain freezing cold.

There are some beautiful shots of the majestic frozen scenery, some useful tips on keeping warm in the cold, and some entertaining moments, but the really fascinating thing about this programme are the insights into Billy's complex personality.