The Penguin Post Office, Bransfield House (Base A), is a little bit of Britain in Antarctica. Inside the British Base, run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), the Post Office has everything you would expect: a postbox, stamps, postcards and four dedicated UKAHT staff. Outside, things are a little different. Next to the Post Office are 2,000 gentoo penguins.
In October 2013, BBC Natural World with the help of the UKAHT set out to film at Port Lockroy. The programme it made, narrated by Juliet Stevenson and produced by Andrew Graham-Brown, follows the lives of the UKAHT staff and the colony of gentoo penguins as they survive around Bransfield House, a British Antarctic Territory Post Office on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Port Lockroy was established in 1944 as part of Operation Tabarin, a British government initiative to establish a permanent year-round presence in Antarctica. It later operated as a research station for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
As part of the BBC programme, the work BAS still does monitoring the Gentoo penguin population is featured. The viewer is also taken around the Post Office to learn about its history in the 1940s and ‘50s. Base leader, Helen Annan, and post-mistresses, Kristy Leissle and Jane Cooper, share their thoughts on living in such a remote part of the world. And visitors share their impressions of the base.
As Helen Annan says “It’s a dream job and, like the penguins, I would like to come back here every year”.
“Penguin Post Office – Natural World” is broadcast on Thursday 24th July at 8pm on BBC2.