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Snow Bears (BBC) - TV Review

Snow Bears

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

KATE Winslet – aka Titanic‘s Rose – may have had another dramatic encounter with an iceberg (or several, to be precise) but on this occasion, things had a much more positive outcome.

The actress turned narrator for BBC1’s Boxing Day nature treat Snow Bears, which chronicled the adventures of a mother polar bear and her two cubs (a brother and sister) as they travelled the 400 miles to find fresh seals on the North Pole ice.

Designed as a winter heart-warmer more than a hard-hitting expose of the perils faced by one of nature’s most beautiful – but endangered – beasts, the show nevertheless balanced comedy with peril across 60 magical minutes.

As ever, the camera-work was stunning, aided – no doubt – by the BBC’s choice of location: Svalbard, where the way in which the light falls on the ice creates some truly colourful backdrops. But then who can resist the sight of baby polar bears… white fur-balls of irresistible cuteness, whose almost every exploit conjured a snigger or heart-in-mouth gasp at some point?

Primary among the threats facing them was an amorous male suitor to their mum – a beast of a bear capable of eating the cubs to have his frisky way. A chase up a mountain provided one of those will they/won’t they edge-of-the-seat encounters that made the likes of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II so gripping at times.

Another sequence found mother bear cast adrift amid a glacial avalanche, and momentarily separated from her cubs. You could really see the fear in her eyes as she attempted to find them.

But there were plenty of comical moments to savour too, from the slapstick sight of the cubs struggling to maintain their balance on the ice-plains (or, quite simply, falling on their faces), or seal hunting (which only ends successfully every 1 in 10 times).

Admittedly, the fact that the show, as a whole, had been dramatized to capture the arduous nature of the journey did blunt some of the show’s dramatic edge, while the lack of those hard-hitting facts diluted its potency given the immediacy of the threat facing this beautiful species.

But in the main, Snow Bears existed to celebrate this beauty. And it did just that in consistently wonderful ways.