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Joanna Lumley in The Land Of The Northern Lights

Joanna Lumley in The Land Of The Northern LightsFollow actress Joanna Lumley as she
  sets off to the Arctic Circle in pursuit
  of the elusive, magical Aurora Borealis
  and the fulfilment of a life-long dream:
  Joanna Lumley in The Land Of The
  Northern Lights
is presented by one of
  the UK
s best-loved personalities and
  most successful comedy exports

BEING BROUGHT UP IN TROPICAL MALAYSIA, the young Joanna Lumley knew only heat; the realms of snow queens and trolls were fairy tales and images from her picture books of Scandinavia. Join Joanna as she braves the freezing temperatures of the Arctic Circle to achieve her lifetime's ambition of travelling to The Land Of The Northern Lights.

Ponny The Penguin, a children's book by the Australian writer Veronica Basser, first sparked Joanna's interest in the icy lands of the North when she was seven years old. She was struck by the black-and-white illustration of the little penguin in front of Aurora Australis, the Southern Hemisphere's version of The Northern Lights.

Now Joanna travels to The Land Of The Northern Lights, armed with the old guidebook The Land Of The Vikings by C Jurgenson and a much-travelled suitcase from her childhood laden with warm clothes, pastels, paper and chocolate. Nine hundred miles north of her London home, Joanna leaves Trondheim in Norway. An eight-hour journey on the Polar Express ends at Bolna Station, where Tore Christiansen is waiting with his team of eleven sled dogs to take Joanna to the very edge of the Arctic Circle.

Ahead of her is a challenging, epic, diverse and absorbing Arctic adventure across "vast expanses of fabulously beautiful scenery", with "breathtaking fairytale mountains and silent fjords" in a climate that is "quite incredibly cold". A discomfort she is more than prepared to endure in the pursuit of a dream.

Joanna's passion to see the Northern Lights is fired even further by the fascinating people she meets on her journey north; with their tales of the unique spectacle of this genuine wonder of the world.

She visits the breathtakingly beautiful Scandinavian Lofoten Islands, staying in her own rorbu, uses her pastels to capture the distinctive dark red and blue houses and meets Sigur Elingsen — "lord of the manor" of (pronounced Aw) and artist Thor Essissen. But she has yet to see the "Tricky Lady" — the Northern Lights.

Next is the ancestral homeland of the indigenous people the Sami, or Laplanders, and the town of Kautokeino, where Joanna meets mayor Klemet Erland Haetta and witnesses the colourful annual confirmation at the church.

Once suffering hardship, the Sami people now enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Around 80,000 Sami people are now living across Scandinavia. Joanna tries out a snow scooter, ably demonstrated by a four-year-old, and meets reindeer herder Mikkel Isak Eira, who introduces her to his reindeer herd and his lavu, or traditional Sami tent. He also invites an elder to demonstrate the fantastic yoik, a unique form of Sami song.

Then it's off to stay at the Alta Igloo Hotel, which is made entirely out of ice. But despite the cold and the need for extra clothing, Joanna sleeps surprisingly well. Manager Sølvi Monsen explains that the building lasts until mid-April when it starts to melt!

In the city of Troms?, Joanna finds Professor Truls Lynne Hansen of the Northern Lights Observatory, who explains fascinating folklore about the phenomenon. Wearing trusty ice fisherman's boots and with hand and feet warmers, Joanna accompanies local guide Kjetil Skogli in search of the magnificent and ghostly spectacle that defies the imagination. The stuff of myth and legend, magic and mystery, it is a spiritual and emotional sight.

Joanna's final destination is the most northerly permanently inhabited place on Earth: Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago. A "vast wilderness of mountains, glaciers and permafrost" that is minus 16 degrees Celsius. Joanna describes the cold as "like breathing knives".

People have been living and working in Svalbard, one of the world's most isolated and extreme environments, for more than four hundred years. From October to February there is no light here at all but by April there is sun around the clock.

Out now on DVD, Joanna Lumley in The Land Of The Northern Lights is enthralling. Photography is by Richard Rankin; Aurora Photography by Kjetil Skogli and Andy Boag; Executive Producer (BBC) is Alison Kirkham; Executive Producer is Neil Cameron; Produced by Helena Braun; and Directed by Archie Baron.

Joanna Lumley In The Land Of The Northern Lights is available on DVD from 7 September. RRP: 15.95 | Duration: 1 x 60 mins | Extra Features: Deleted Scene: Alternative Pre-Title | Deleted Scene: Stina and Anita in Tromso | Deleted Scene: Svalbard Seed Vault | Filming The Northern Lights.

Joanna Lumley in The Land Of The Northern Lights is a magical, fascinating journey to an ice kingdom and Joanna is a charismatic and witty guide. This enchanting land has long appealed to me (my great-grandfather was a Norwegian sea captain) and this wonderful DVD has most definitely inspired me to visit. — Maggie Woods, MotorBar