‘It’s all about timing’

Sakal Times
Sunday, 4 March 2018

Presenter of Fierce Earth S1 and S2, Dougal Jerram talks to us about Sony BBC Earth’s new series

Sony BBC Earth’s new series showcases what it would be like to experience some of nature’s most destructive forces. Each episode explores the anatomy of one incredible natural phenomenon. Featuring footage from the BBC and other natural history archives, the series showcases the stunning power of nature’s fury with jaw dropping footage such as exploding volcanoes, car hurtling tornadoes and giant tsunami waves. Experiments and demonstrations show the impact of Mother Nature at her most furious. This is a visually stunning series, filmed in a range of locations, revealing the true power of the planet in an accessible and entertaining way. Dougal Jerram, presenter of the series tells us more. Excerpts:

Can you tell us more about Fierce Earth? 
The Fierce Earth series is an exciting opportunity to look at the different things that happen in the Earth. It’s over two series with 20 episodes and in each episode we focus on one particular aspect — hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes, and we spend half an hour looking at that particular aspect. 

Earthquakes are mostly synonymous with fear and destruction. How have you explored such frightening phenomena? 
For the Earthquake episode, we actually went to Japan to spend some time looking at how the Japanese cope with the effects of the earthquake and how they deal with teaching their children about the dangers. Also, we look at the most important aspect — education, how they educate their population on how to best survive an earthquake. 

What was it like shooting for the series? Which locations did you choose and why?
I was one of the five presenters of the series. I’m a geologist and was involved in the episode which shows aspects of the rocks of the Earth. From earthquakes, volcanoes and avalanches, I was involved everywhere. We chose particular areas that helped us explore the topics, so with avalanches we went to the Alps and for the topic on the wettest place on Earth, we went to India.  

If I were to ask you about a few unforgettable incidents that you experienced while shooting, what would they be?
The incident that first comes to mind is when we went to the Alps, we managed to set up an avalanche. We had explosives at the top of the mountains and we launched our manmade avalanche. That was a spectacular experience, something that I will never forget. My other unforgettable experience is in Kolkata in India, where we were being lowered into one of the areas where they were trying to fix parts of the solar system and at the same time the monsoon rains started and very quickly the whole of the solar system started filling up with water. It was very scary and you will see in that particular episode, which is part of the series too, that we had a very close shave.  

Tell us about the challenges that you faced during the making of the series? 
The challenges are mainly due to the fact that the Earth has a lot of different things happening on it. But it doesn’t always happen at the time we want it to. So when we went to the Sahara desert, we wanted to find a sand storm but we couldn’t. It’s all about timing! In the same way, when we went to India we wanted to see the monsoon and for a couple of days it was actually very dry. But luckily, the rains arrived after some time and we were able to go ahead with our next step. 

What are your upcoming projects?
I have just finished writing a book on the volcanoes of the earth which has just come out. I’m actively involved in some research on live volcanoes where we’re using drone technologies. So we’re exploring all kinds of new modern technologies and how we can apply those to the Earth’s sciences. 

Fierce Earth Series 1 and 2 will premiere on Sony BBC Earth today, March 5, at 9.30 pm

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