‘The Terror’ is a new BBC drama based on the doomed Arctic expedition headed by Spilsby born Sir John Franklin in search of the fabled North West passage – a route around the top of Canada connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific.

It is an epic tale of hardship and is the worst disaster in British polar exploration. The fate of the 129 men has been a matter of speculation for 170 years.

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror set out from Greenhithe, Kent in 1845. Both were state of the art craft: extremely strong, with sophisticated heating systems and steam driven propellers, ideal for Arctic conditions.

HMS Erebus in the ice. | Image: National Maritime Museum archive

With sufficient provisions for three years, this was the expedition which should not fail. They were led by a man who was a seasoned Arctic explorer. So what went wrong?

Franklin had not been the first choice to lead the expedition. It was a demanding undertaking for anyone, let alone a 59-year-old.

In his favour was a distinguished naval career – he joined the Royal Navy at 14, had served in the Battle of Copenhagen, Battle of Trafalgar and at New Orleans during the War of 1812.

Hauling supplies in boat sleds. | Image: National Maritime Museum archive

He had exploration credentials from a surveying mission to the south coast of Australia and three previous Arctic expeditions.

However, each of his previous Arctic ventures had ended in failure – the first turned back as one ship was damaged, the second had been an unmitigated disaster, with more than half the crew dying of starvation before rescue. His final attempt in 1825 had come within 160 miles of success before it was abandoned.

Despite the inability to identify the North West passage, valuable surveying and scientific research had been undertaken and in 1829 Franklin was rewarded with a knighthood.

Franklin and Amundsen’s routes as they searched for the North West Passage.

Fifteen years passed, during which time Franklin became the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). His standing with the Colonial Office was undermined by a disgruntled former employee and he was recalled and censured in 1844.

Humiliated, he sought command of a proposed new Arctic expedition to restore his reputation. The desire to repair his standing and determination to succeed where he had previously failed may have driven him on when he should have sought shelter.

The expedition was flawed from the outset by the incorrect assumption of John Barrow, second secretary of the Admiralty, who had proposed that there was relatively open sea along a south-westerly line from Barrow Strait to Bering Strait.

A perfect storm of misfortune compounded the error: unseasonably cold summers which did not allow the ice to melt; tainted provisions and becoming stranded in an area known as Tununiq (‘The Back of Beyond’) by the Inuit for its lack of game.

The series accurately portrays the known facts: the ships were ice-bound; many men suffered lead poisoning; the last desperate men resorted to cannibalism.

Franklin died relatively early in the saga, in June 1847, nine months before Captain Crozier ordered the ships be abandoned. Lady Franklin campaigned tirelessly for rescue missions and 30 were sent out over the ensuing years.

The encounter with the Inuit shaman is fictional, as is the beast, perhaps a metaphor for the fear and horror experienced by the crew.

The birthplace of Sir John Franklin in Spilsby. | Photo: Lyn Gould for The Lincolnite

The story captured the public imagination and Franklin, a hero in his lifetime, became a legend in his tragedy.

The discoveries of the wrecks of The Erebus in 2014 and The Terror in 2016 offered clues as to their final months.

The North West passage was eventually navigated, with relative ease, by Roald Amundsen 50 years later, in a fishing boat with a crew of six men.

A former cruise ship and Butlin’s entertainer with a passion for history has produced his own YouTube series about the county as some people “don’t realise just how much is here”.

Karl Bird, 43, from Spilsby had performed in a few plays when attending Spilsby High School before being hired as a singing Redcoat for Butlin’s at the age of 18.

After travelling the world on cruise ships with Carnival Cruiseline between 2001 to 2014, Karl returned to Lincolnshire to spend time with his poorly mother who sadly died in 2018.

Karl currently works part-time doing film review shows for BBC Radio Lincolnshire and has also worked as a self-employed singer.

In his spare time, Karl worked with his dad Maurice, who was a cameraman on their documentary. It was originally going to be a one-off longer film and ended up turning into a nine episode YouTube series called ‘Why the world needs Lincolnshire’.

Karl produced the YouTube series with his dad Maurice.

They tried to travel to every corner of Lincolnshire starting in 2019 and the first episode of the YouTube series aired in January this year.

Karl sadly lost his dad in January, who was a script writer for famous comedian Ken Dodd during the 1970s and 80s and this features in episode two of the series.

He was pleased they were able to share the filming journey together about the county they both love.

Karl performing one of his shows on a cruise ship in Australia.

Karl told The Lincolnite: “To me Lincolnshire is definitely about the people and the community and how we all pull together.

“It is a very close knit community, but we are also quieter about it and I feel as a county we all need to be proud of everything we achieve. We are humble in Lincolnshire and don’t really shout about all the great things and people from here.

“Lincolnshire is a place that is very unsung. 99% of what is in Lincolnshire is unknown to many outside of it. It is steeped in history and beautiful landscapes and historic places, but if you think you know Lincolnshire you don’t, there is so much to it.”

He added that people as far afield as America and Australia have tuned in to watch his series, with episode six of nine due to be released on Wednesday, February 24.

Episode six will focus on world’s firsts including topics such as the tallest spire in Louth, Margaret Thatcher, and the first barcode in Britain being scanned at a supermarket in Spalding.

Looking ahead to the future, Karl said he has several other projects pending. He wants to do another YouTube series encouraging people to travel and go to film locations around the UK.

He also wants to do a documentary about inspirational authors across the United Kingdom whose books have been turned into films.

Why the world needs Lincolnshire

Episode 1 – ‘Ancient Beginnings’

Episode 2 – ‘Born to Entertain’

Episode 3 – ‘The Greatest Briton & Royal Associations’

Episode 4 – Birth of America

Episode 5 – ‘A World of Exploration’

Episode 6 – ‘Leading The Way’


Eighteen residents at a care home near Spilsby died after a six-week coronavirus outbreak, which also led to two staff being treated in hospital.

All 27 residents at The Old Hall at Halton Holegate, which is run by Kesh-Care Limited, tested positive at the same time on November 16, as well as 20 staff.

Sadly, two thirds of the residents died, with most in their 90s, but their ages ranged from 79 to 99, according to The Guardian.

The first death from coronavirus at the care home was on November 18.

Some of the deaths were so sudden that staff did not have the chance to administer end-of-life treatment or arrange for loved ones to say goodbye.

Two members of staff were so ill they had to be taken to hospital and it is understood that one is still off sick. Some staff moved into a caravan nearby to be around to help.

The care home’s manager Diane Vale said:  “The outbreak started on November 16 and lasted around six weeks. All 27 residents tested positive at the same time, as well as 20 out of 28 staff. It was awful, we lost 18 residents altogether.

“I have been a manager for 40 years and have never had to deal with anything like it – it was horrendous.”

She added: “Originally there were no symptoms and the symptoms they tell you to look for, such as a continuous cough or high temperature, there was no indication of that.”

Natalie Liddle, Lincolnshire County Council’s Programme Manager for Infection Prevention & Control in Public Health, said: “The county council was notified in November about an outbreak at The Old Hall care home.

“Our Health Protection Team were supporting the home during this period and we were assured that The Old Hall had taken extraordinary measures to regain control of the outbreak and minimise further transmission within the home.

“We are actively working with all care homes across Lincolnshire that have experienced significant outbreaks to ensure that they are supported.”

The home’s infection control procedures were validated as safe by regulators at the end of November and it was rated overall as ‘Good’ after its latest inspection on November 24 last year.

This comes after it was revealed that East Lindsey was the district of Lincolnshire that recorded one of the highest weekly number of COVID care home deaths in England in December. 52 people died from coronavirus in the district’s care homes in the five weeks to January 3.

Meanwhile, COVID outbreaks in England’s care homes almost tripled in three weeks to January 10, according to data from Public Health England.

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