The Worst Journey in the World (TV programme)

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The Worst Journey in the World
Written byMark Gatiss
Directed byDamon Thomas
Narrated byBarry Letts
Composer(s)Duncan Glasson
Country of originUK
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Suzanne Lavery
CinematographyJonathan Partridge
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Tiger Aspect Productions
DistributorBBC Worldwide
Original networkBBC Four
Original release13 June 2007
External links

The Worst Journey in the World is a 2007 BBC Television docudrama based on the memoir of the same name by polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard. The narrator Barry Letts, best known for his tenure as the producer of Doctor Who, played Cherry-Garrard in the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic.


A pre-title sequence shows Apsley Cherry-Garrard in London in 1938 struggling with his perceived culpability in Scott’s death.

The Edwardian era was called the heroic age of polar exploration and the names of Nansen, Shackleton, Amundsen and Scott have passed into legend. The race for the poles caught the popular imagination, the conquest of the South Pole in particular. Captain Scott emerged as a tragic hero whose story has achieved almost mythical status. What’s less well known is Scott took more than 30 others to Antarctica, where they spent 2 years conducting extensive scientific experiments, as well as preparing for the attempt on the pole. One of the more esoteric chapters of this adventure is an amazing story of human endurance. It concerns the search for a penguin’s egg. and the youngest Englishman in Scott’s party. This is his story...

— Barry Letts's opening narration

Cherry is incapacitated by a psychological collapse in 1946 and starts to flash back to his past. He arrives at the Natural History Museum in 1913 with eggs he collected in Antarctica. He recalls his discussion with Dr. Wilson 2 years prior when he had first suggested the expedition. Initially denied a place due to his poor eyesight a generous donation to the Terra Nova Expedition had changed Captain Scott’s mind and Cherry was signed on.

Scott sets sail from New Zealand and sets-up camp at Cape Evans where they settle in for the winter. Dr. Wilson leads Cherry and Birdie on the gruelling 67mile trek to Cape Crozier where he had discovered an emperor penguin colony in 1902. Constructing a makeshift igloo 4 miles from the colony the trio collect the eggs. Dr. Wilson is badly burnt while rending penguin fat for the stove and they lose their tent in a hurricane.

After recovering the tent the trio begin the journey back to the Cape Evans camp. Delivering the eggs to the museum Cherry is summarily dismissed by the curator and the eggs later prove to be too advanced to be of use. Dr. Wilson and Birdie joined Captain Scott on his trek to the South Pole a few months later and perished along with him on the return journey. Cherry sets out on a rescue mission but was forced to turn back by Scott’s standing orders not to risk the dogs.

An epilogue, telling of Cherry’s mental anguish at failing to rescue his friends who were only 70 miles from One Ton Depot when he turned back, shows the perfectly preserved camp at Cape Evans and the remnants of the igloo at Cape Crozier.


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