Lumley in The Land Of The Northern Lights
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
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
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 Å (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
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
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