The BEST Episodes of Life in the Freezer

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Network: BBC One

Over the course of the series, the seasonal effect on the continent is explored, from one of the harshest winters on the planet to the arrival of spring, which welcomes a population of ocean travelers returning to breed. Then, in the summer, creatures such as seals and penguins struggle to raise their young before winter once again sets in. At this point, the ice sheet doubles and animals must leave to find food. David Attenborough accompanied a 20-strong crew to Antarctica and spent three years filming the series. They had to contend with monolithic glaciers and extreme weather conditions, including mountainous seas, 160 km/h blizzards and harsh temperatures. Once again, following on from The Trials of Life, the team used the latest camera technology and techniques, and had to travel into territory that had been previously inaccessible to filmmakers.[1] For example, to photograph the wildlife of the sea, boats, divers, suspended capsules and remotely controlled cameras mounted on inflatables were used. Particularly dangerous to divers were leopard seals and other predators, so some underwater sequences necessitated the use of cages for safety. The team also used a small, steel-hulled yacht, the Damien II. It had a retractable keel, which enabled the vessel to venture into shallow bays and land camera crews on to remote islands, where they could remain in contact via radio. A steadicam was used to obtain close-ups of fighting fur seals, with another person carrying a pair of wooden poles close by, in case one of the creatures attacked the human visitors.

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The Big Freeze

#1 - The Big Freeze

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 16, 1993

This episode shows the lives of animals in Antarctica when the ice has frozen over at the end of summer. During the Antarctic winter, conditions are so extreme that most animal life deserts the region. The few exceptions include emperor penguins, which huddle together as storms rage, and Weddell seals, which maintain holes in the ice for access to an underwater world in which fish survive by having natural antifreeze in their blood.

star 8.77
35 votes
Writers: David Attenborough
The Door Closes

#2 - The Door Closes

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 9, 1993

This episode shows the northward migration of animals on Antartica and the islands surrounding it. Autumn has stirred up harsh seas which batter the islands of Antarctica, leaving penguins to struggle ashore to feed their young. Amid the wildness of the landscape, leopard seals pounce at unsuspecting fledglings, fur seal pups take their first swim, and young wandering albatrosses rehearse their amazing courtship dance.

star 8.09
35 votes
Writers: David Attenborough
The Race to Breed

#3 - The Race to Breed

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Dec 2, 1993

This episode describes the breeding season in Antarctica. It's summer in Antarctica, and with 24-hour daylight the race to breed is on as two million fur seals crowd the beaches of South Georgia. When the pups are born, ferocious bulls attack any intruders who challenge their females. Meanwhile, Chinstrap penguins cross glacial streams and climb near vertical cliffs to feed their chicks as formidable leopard seals lurk.

star 7.97
36 votes
Writers: David Attenborough
Footsteps in the Snow

#4 - Footsteps in the Snow

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Dec 23, 1993

The first half of this episode discusses the human exploration of Antarctica and the second half is the making of the series. David Attenborough's natural history of Antarctica focuses on man's struggle to survive in this frozen world. From Captain Scott's old hut, he describes the race to be the first to the South Pole, and he reveals how today scientists and support staff manage to live at the Pole all year round, despite temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius and weeks of total darkness.

star 7.97
35 votes
Writers: David Attenborough
The Ice Retreats

#5 - The Ice Retreats

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 25, 1993

This episode shows the lives of animals on the Antarctic peninsula. In the spring, the thaw begins and animals like the humpback whale and the crawfish seals follow the ice in retreat.

star 7.32
37 votes
Writers: David Attenborough
The Bountiful Sea

#6 - The Bountiful Sea

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 18, 1993

This episode introduces Antarctica and the surrounding sea and islands. It describes how the continent changes throughout the year. With winter temperatures of minus 70 degrees centigrade and winds of 100mph, only a few hundred people live in this inhospitable continent that is one and a half times the size of Europe. The wildlife, however, is abundant - millions of penguins, thousands of whales and half the world's seals somehow survive hardest conditions on the planet.

star 7.08
37 votes
Writers: David Attenborough