Ben & James Versus the Arabian Desert

2x60' for BBC Two, 2013

Four years after their last adventure across Antarctica in the BBC series On Thin Ice, James Cracknell and Ben Fogle re-unite for a dramatic desert challenge – an unguided expedition across a portion of the iconic Empty Quarter in Oman. They follow in the footsteps of their hero Wilfred Thesiger, the legendary British explorer who travelled in the Empty Quarter in the 1940s. Eschewing the modern world, Thesiger travelled with local Bedouin, sharing their hardship and earning their respect – and the nickname ‘Mubarak bin London’.

Importantly for Ben and James, this Empty Quarter expedition is also an opportunity to rekindle a lost friendship. After their sometimes stormy Antarctica adventure they’d always planned to do another expedition, but in July 2010 James was hit by a petrol tanker in a cycle race across America and suffered a catastrophic head injury. He spent 3 months recovering in hospital in Arizona; three years on, he’s still coming to terms with the injury to the frontal lobes of his brain, affecting motivation, organisation and empathy. His relationships have suffered badly, including his friendship with Ben. For James, this expedition is about regaining his confidence after the accident. For Ben, it’s a chance to find his friend again.

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