PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2003, 12:00am

Man's Heritage: Under Antarctic Ice

Pearl, 8pm

Off Antarctica's frozen coastline lies one of Earth's most stable and vibrant ecosystems - and one of its most enchanting realms. On the surface, it's the bleakest of places, with ferocious winds, flightless birds, and enough ice to flood half the planet's population were it to melt. But below that frozen mass, a fantastic marine environment teems with life.

This beautiful film was shot in high-definition format over two years by renowned underwater photographer Norbert Wu, who set up base with two oceanographic researchers at the frontier outpost, McMurdo Station, within sight of the volcanic Mount Erebus. From there, with the help of a dive co-ordinator at McMurdo, they carefully searched for places where the ice was thin enough to dig access holes and where the underwater environment was suitable and reasonably safe for a descent.

Throughout the film, Wu and his companions find ingenious ways to bring us a world that only a fraction of humanity will ever witness first-hand.

The West Wing

Pearl, 10.30pm

The president's team reacts to the ongoing Qumari inquiry by approaching Leo's (John Spencer) lawyer, while a key judicial ruling on presidential third-party candidates proves a setback for the campaign. Sam (Rob Lowe), Toby (Richard Schiff, above) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) hatch a radical new idea to pay for college education, and the approval process of executive secretary-to-be Deborah Fiderer (Lily Tomlin) hits a snag when new evidence is uncovered. Also starring Martin Sheen and Allison Janney.

The Vanishing

Star Movies, 9pm

In director George Sluizer's American remake of his own 1988 Dutch film, Jeff (Kiefer Sutherland) and his girlfriend, Diane (Sandra Bullock), are on holiday. While they are taking a break at a crowded rest area, they get into a fight and Diane mysteriously disappears. Unable to find any witnesses or leads, Jeff spends several years trying to find out what happened to her, a search that becomes a life-consuming obsession until one day he is contacted by a man claiming to be the abductor. Also starring Jeff Bridges (above).