“Explorers wanted: ordinary men and women wanted for an extraordinary adventure”. 700 intrigued Irish men and women responded to this advertisement in the press. BEYOND ENDURANCE is a four-part series that follows this group of wannabe explorers as they attempt to make it through the selection trials and go to the harsh Antarctic terrain of South Georgia in their attempt to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
In 1916, Sir Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica to reach the South Pole. His expedition fell foul of the treacherous conditions of the Weddell Sea and the journey turned into an epic battle for survival in one of the harshest environments in the world. 90 years on, in the anniversary year, renowned adventurer Pat Falvey plans to take a group of enthusiastic but vastly inexperienced explorers on a trip to Antarctica to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps. BEYOND ENDURANCE will provide the ultimate in reality TV as it takes a cast of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. This series will offer viewers an accessible but surprising television experience as they witness the transformation of ordinary people from couch potatoes to hardened travelers, pushing themselves to limits they never thought possible.
The commitment is a leap into the unknown. For a start, anyone wanting to take part has to hand over €15,000. They also have to take part on a number of trials which take place in Co. Kerry, and Norway. Using an observational approach, the series will see them struggle with both the elements and their own physical limitations to learn the outdoor skills necessary to survive in the Antarctic.
A number of unlikely candidates step forward. Mary Casey, a 56 year old mother of four, from the Innishowen Peninsula of Donegal. They say a women of my age should know better, I say that it’s because I’m a woman my age I know better, do it better, and relish the challenge!
Cliff Reid from Athy, Co Kildare, a student with serious fundraising needs. “I come from Shackleton’s home town, and felt we should have a representative. No one came forward so I gave up the fags and the drink, and decided to see if I could make a go of it myself…”
Retired fireman Jerry Aherne, from Cork. Sporting a handlebar moustache and a copy of ‘Unsung Hero’, the book about the life of explorer Tom Crean, he leapt at the chance to emulate his heroes. “I want to know what these men endured, and I want to find out if I am up to the physical and mental challenge. “
Expedition leader Pat Falvey started out life in the construction industry, eventually swapping his concrete mixer for a set of crampons. He has summated Everest twice and completed over 50 successful expeditions across the world. Falvey has put his house on the line to guarantee the huge costs associated with this madcap scheme. He has made commitments. A ship capable of withstanding the most inhospitable seas has been chartered and now Falvey must run a successful expedition to cover his costs. He needs to recoup over half a million Euro, or he goes bust.
The training for and expedition to South Georgia, which the series follows, is only part of the overall Beyond Endurance Expedition. Pat and the rest of the team are to complete the expedition's final objective by skiing to the South Pole and beyond. They leave Ireland on the 1st of November and will spend at least 60 days on the Ice.
This will be the ultimate reality TV show that sends people quite literally to the end of the earth…
The series was filmed in High Definition using Sony cameras by Steve O'Reilly and Niall Foley and is produced by Karen Rodgers of PANACHE TELEVISION for RTE. Four half-hour documentaries will be shown weekly on RTE 1 at 7pm, beginning on 23rd October.