The Polar Bear Family and Me

Series 1 - 1. Spring

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

Wildlife film-maker Gordon Buchanan gets as physically close to wild polar bears as anyone could for this three-parter airing across the week. Initially, he has to contend with the fact that there is so little Arctic sea ice when it should be solid (they started filming last April) that the crew struggles to approach the Svalbard home of the bears. But eventually he finds his ideal quarry: a mother with two cubs, and sees them emerge from their den for the first time to play in the snow – touching stuff.

You worry a bit as a viewer about how much the film crew and scientists hassle the bears – and tempt them to waste precious energy pursuing the humans as potential dinner. But it makes great TV, particularly the scene where a male bear attacks Buchanan in his perspex cage. Quite scary.

About this programme

1/3. Cameraman Gordon Buchanan travels to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard to document the lives of a polar bear and her two cubs over the course of three seasons. In spring, he and a team of arctic survival experts manage to find a birth den and meet mother Lyra and offspring Miki and Luca as they emerge from it. Gordon then helps scientists fit the adult with a tracking collar and tests a bear-proof filming hide as he takes on the mission of living with the family.

Cast and crew


Gordon Buchanan


Executive Producer
Tim Martin
Ted Oakes
Series Director
Saritha Wilkinson
Series Producer
Ted Oakes