Episode Number
Twelve Flags South
Producing Organization
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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Episode Description
This second Australian contribution to Intertel is a heartening look at international cooperation in the ice-locked continent of Antarctica. In this vast area -- five and a half million square miles of white wilderness -- twelve nations work together to further man's knowledge of his planet. Scientists from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United States, and the U.S.S.R. pursue their work unhampered by borders and passports or the threat of military armaments, nuclear explosions, and atomic wastes. Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty, signed by all twelve nations in 1959, the continent has been designated a scientific preserve. In the absence of territorial claims, it has become a vast laboratory for peaceful research and exploration, where men of many nations recognize only one frontier -- the limitless one of science. Using historic films of early explorers such as Shackleton, Mawson, and Byrd, TWELVE FLAGS SOUTH sets the background for the Antarctic research being carried out today, and then follows the Australian TV unit as it travels more than 5,000 miles through this frozen land, filming and interviewing scientists at many of the bases. The seven paragraphs that follow provide a summary of what this hour-long INTERTEL episode shows or tells the viewer.?The history of Antarctic exploration goes back less than 200 years. Captain James Cook first crossed the Antarctic Circle in 1773. He was followed by whalers and sealers, and, in the nineteenth century, by the first groups of explorers: Bellinghausen (Russia, 1820), DUrville (France, 1840), Wilkes (U.S.A., 1838), and James Clark Ross (Britain, 1839). Today America has seven bases in Antarctica, most of them inland and one at the South Pole. Britain also has seven bases, some of them year-round establishments where scientists spend whole winters isolated with their instruments. Australia's three bases are named for Antarctic pioneers -- Mawson, Wilkes, and Davies. The French maintain their base at D'Urville, while the New Zealanders are at Scott Base and at Hallett. Of the Soviet Union's four main bases the largest is Mirny. All these, together with the Chilean, Argentinian, South African, Norwegian, Belgian, and Japanese installations, make up an unprecedented international community of more than thirty-five bases, whose personnel work in an atmosphere of exceptional amity and cooperation. The film unit joins an American relief convoy -- the first to set out after the long winter of 1962 -- at Port Littleton, New Zealand. Two ice-breakers and two "thin-skin" supply ships are lead more than eight hundred miles through pack ice by the U.S. Navy's biggest ice-breaker, the Glacier, known as the toughest ship in the world. First stop is McMurdo, the major American base, which lies in the shadow of Erebus, an active volcano. A nuclear reactor supplies all the power at the station. In a continent of snow there is always a water shortage, and one of the never-ending jobs at McMurdo is melting enough ice to supply the summer population of more than one thousand seismologists, glaciologists, meteorologists, cosmic radiation scientists, and their assistants. From McMurdo the crew goes on to Mirny, which was established by the Russians in 1956. There is an American scientist at the giant observatory, and all scientific findings are shared. Next stop is the American base at the South Pole, where marigolds and carrots are grown in experimental underground hot houses. The all-season base has twenty year-round residents, and for nine months of every year the only contact with the outside world is by ham radio. New Zealand scientists are filmed exploring the ice caves they discovered near their Scott Base. Although there is much mechanization, huskies still pull sledges for the New Zealand, Australian, and British teams. "A mechanized toboggan is better in many ways," says a New Zealand scientist, "but an engine isn't much of a companion." Weather mapping is the first practical benefit offered by Antarctic research. Every day weather reports go to the international weather center at Melbourne, Australia, to be evaluated and fed to other weather bureaus around the world. But eventually mankind will benefit in many ways from this amazing scientific effort. In addition to doing research in oceanography, meteorology, seismology, and glaciology, scientists in the Antarctica are obtaining vast new knowledge of the upper atmosphere, knowledge essential to the successful application of space science. Biological studies of penguins, sea birds, and seals -- the only bird and animal life on the continent -- are providing new clues to the relationships between organisms and their environments. And the very process of survival while carrying out this varied research is teaching men more and more methods of controlling their environment. Antarctica is still the cruelest of all continents, demanding the utmost of endurance and determination. The men of twelve nations who work and live there could give many reasons for submitting to such a punishing experience. But perhaps the basic answer was given for all of them by Robert Scott in 1912 as he lay dying in a tiny blizzard-swept tent. "How much better all this has been, he said, "than lounging in too great comfort at home." TWELVE FLAGS SOUTH was produced for Intertel by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Acknowledgments: United States Navy; Australian Antarctic Division; B.P. (Australia) Ltd., British Antarctic Survey; Antarctic Treaty Member Nations; National Library, Canberra, Australia. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
Intertel, a dramatic breakthrough in the dissemination of ideas and cultural exchange through television, was conceived in November 1960. Five television broadcasters in the four major English-speaking nations joined to form the International Television Federation, to be known as Intertel, the first such international organization. The participants were Associated Rediffusion, Ltd. of Great Britain, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and for the United States, the National Educational Television and Radio Center and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. Intertel produced on a bi-monthly basis hour-long documentaries on important world topics, inaugurating a global television production agency dedicated to the creation of programs of substance and meaning. John F. White, President of NET, called Intertel more than a fusion of the creative talents of the organizations involved in producing television programs of outstanding merit. It is a step forward to world understanding, he added. I believe that the exchange of documentaries, while of great significance in the vastness of the mutual understanding in it can foster, is but the first step in a regular exchange of all forms of programming. Donald H. McGannon, President of WBC, hailed the new organization as a pool of the technical and creative ability and knowledge of all the groups which will extend the international horizons of television in all aspects. This is the first practical step, after years of talking and hoping, toward the creation and use of international television for cultural exchange and an effective weapon for peace. By having observers examine topics far removed from their everyday assignments, Intertel gives viewers a fresh viewpoint. The founder members indicated that by dubbing these programs in foreign languages and making them available to all nations, they hoped television companies in Europe, Asia and South America will eventually join this unique project. The supervisory committee for the United States programming segments consists of Mr. McGannon and Mr. White; Richard M. Pack, WBC Vice President Programming; and Robert Hudson, NET Vice President for Programming. Intertel came into formal being November 14, 1960, in a special meeting in Vancouver, B.C., and the culmination of plans for such an association which has been under way for a long time. John McMilliam of Associate Rediffusion, was named contemporary Coordinating Officer at that time. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Public Affairs
Media type
Camera Operator: Grimmond, Bill
Camera Operator: White, Eric
Director: Hudson, Lionel, 1916-
Executive Producer: Hamilton, W. S.
Narrator: Condon, James
Producer: Fraser, Keith
Producing Organization: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Writer: Chapman, Ivan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
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Chicago: “Intertel; 13; Twelve Flags South,” 1963-07-22, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 1, 2023,
MLA: “Intertel; 13; Twelve Flags South.” 1963-07-22. American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 1, 2023. <>.
APA: Intertel; 13; Twelve Flags South. Boston, MA: American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from