Cameraman stares into jaws of hungry polar bear in Arctic encounter

Gordon Buchanan spent 45 minutes with only a perspex box protecting him from the ravenous 8ft predator.

Cameraman Gordon Buchanan confronts a polar bear while filming a BBC documentary in the Arctic.
BBC/SWNS

This was the terrifying moment a wildlife cameraman stared into the jaws of a hungry 70-stone polar bear in the middle of the frozen Arctic.

Film-maker Gordon Buchanan had only a perspex safety box to stop the 8ft predator killing him with a swat of her giant paws and feeding him to her cubs.

The 40-year-old described the 45-minute confrontation as the most frightening of his 20-year career, as the powerful beast probed for a weak spot in his protective cage.

"A lot of people think that carnivores are intrinsically dangerous but most aren't - there's a minimal risk and attacks are the exception. But polar bears are different," said Buchanan, who was filming the bears for a three-part BBC documentary.

"Without a doubt she wanted me for lunch. She was so persistent, looking for a weak spot for almost 45 minutes.

"I was terrified and you could hear my heartbeat on the mic. It really was a sensational moment and a worrying situation."

Buchanan spent 12 months tracking mother Lyra and her two cubs, Miki and Luca, on Svalbard, a tiny archipelago 400 miles off the coast of Norway.

He risked long journeys over and through the ice, often into uncharted territory, battling freezing winds, violent storms and deep subzero temperatures.

His film crew had to take to their snowmobiles several times to flee the polar bears.

Although the perspex 'ice cube' was built to be "pretty much bombproof", there was a risk it would become brittle in extreme cold - a risk that was tested to the limit when Buchanan came face to face with Lyra.

He said: "It is the most difficult thing I have done and the scariest. I've not been terrified for 40 minutes before.

"There's no doubt polar bear cubs are the cutest animals in the world and even the adults have an aesthetic which isn't threatening.

"But the polar bear is the animal I have the most respect for, it is the largest and strongest land carnivore. They are such inquisitive animals too.

"The landscape is pretty featureless and it is amazing how they appear from nowhere."

See a gallery of images of Gordon Buchanan's face-off with Lyra

The Polar Bear Family and Me is broadcast on BBC2 on Monday, January 7 for three consecutive nights at 9.30pm.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.