Sir David Attenborough, 94, does the ‘penguin dance’ in -18C arctic snow
The legendary TV presenter was forced to work in ‘severely cold’ conditions and was inspired by penguins to keep him warm
Sir David Attenborough was persuaded to do a ‘penguin dance’ to warm up while filming in -18C Arctic temperatures.
The BBC star was with executive producer Mike Gunton and team doctor Patrick Avery when they filmed in snowy northern Finland for BBC1’s The Green Planet.
Gunton said it was breathtakingly beautiful but “brutally cold” as they watched the filming unfold – and needed to get the blood moving again.
He explained: “One of our sound guys had spent some time in that part of the world, working with the local natives, who have a particular way of warming up.
“They do a thing called a penguin dance. Not that they ever have – this is the wrong place for penguins!
“What they do is they stand like this (walks up and down on his toes) and they hold their hands like this (at right angles to his body). And you go up on your tiptoes and as you do, you do this (flapping hands). And what it does is it pumps blood in a particular way around your body, and it helps send it to the extremities to keep your fingers and toes warm. It really works.
“David, the medic and I were practically kneeling in a snowdrift, waiting for the drone to take a shot. And we were all getting a little cold and the sound engineer said, “Make the penguin dance!” So we did and it was great fun.
Last week the producer of the Seasonal Worlds episode, which aired on Sunday, told how they went to great lengths to ensure Sir David, who was almost 94 at the time, was well-groomed.
Rosie Thomas said: “It was an amazing experience. He had hot water bottles and electric blankets and he wore about six coats at one point.
She said he brought the good weather with him, explaining: “I was there for 10 days and it snowed every day except the day David was there and the sun came out and shone wonderfully. He brought it with him It was very cold but absolutely amazingly beautiful.
The team entered and exited the Borealis forest just in time before the pandemic hit, in February 2020.
This weekend’s episode, which airs Sunday at 7 p.m., explores the world’s deserts and examines many types of cacti.
Traveling to Arizona, Sir David shows us just how vicious the Teddybear Cholla cactus can really be, as its spines slice through two pairs of thick gloves to pierce its skin.