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Shetland’s on BBC TV…again

The Great British Winter team filming in Hillswick at the end of January. From left: director/producer Will Ridgeon, presenter Ellie Harrison, sound recorder Simon Coles and cameraman Peter Hyns

WHILE the BBC ratchets up the anticipation for their two part crime thriller Shetland starting on Sunday night, another programme about the isles is lined up for the airwaves this weekend.

On Friday at 6.30pm (in England, Wales and online) and on Saturday at 5.30pm (in Scotland) BBC2 will screen the final episode of their five part series The Great British Winter, which focuses entirely on Shetland.

Presenter Ellie Harrison travelled north from the BBC Bristol wildlife unit with a crew of three for an intense three days of filming at the end of January.

However much to their surprise the weather improved the further north they went.

“When we left Bristol we left it in feet of snow, but here the weather has been stunning,” Harrison said in the middle of filming.

“The weather has been very kind to us so far, it’s been cold but beautiful and sunny.”

The series looks at how people and animals survive the harsh winter conditions of Britain’s coldest months, taking in some of the country’s “most extreme winter landscapes”.

The first programme about mountains was filmed in the Cairngorms, followed by lakes filmed in The Lake District, forests filmed in Argyll, estuaries filmed in Morecambe Bay and finally islands filmed in Shetland.

The trick of the series is to include plenty of archive footage from the BBC’s natural history unit, adding that with new material filmed on location.

While in Shetland the crew visited Scatness iron age fort and Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, spoke to crofters and fishermen about life during the stormy months of the year and searched the skies for the northern lights.

Harrison, who had never been to Shetland before, said: “It’s really striking not seeing a tree, it really does throw you, but it’s a very beautiful and distinct landscape.”

Producer/director Will Ridgeon said they had been hoping for storms, but were quite happy to be working in the bright sunshine.

“Pretty much everywhere we have gone with this series so far the sun has come with us so while we are looking for really classic winter weather, rain, snow, sleet and hail, instead we’ve had glorious sunshine.”