Rigger Robert Hooker faced daily danger, freezing temperatures and sunburn to film Shackleton but he would do it all again tomorrow.

Robert and the film crew had to cope with the perils of shifting ice floes and the knowledge that anyone who fell into the water would be dead within three minutes.

He spent five weeks in Greenland recreating one of the most hazardous expeditions in history - the two-year battle for survival of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men.

The film crew, including Kenneth Branagh as Shackleton, may have had new technology and better safety measures but the dangers remained the same almost 90 years after Shackleton and his 27 men first set out to cross the Antarctic aboard the Endurance.

Robert said: "In the day, the temperatures were just below freezing and one of the main risks was getting sunburnt. But if one of us had fallen into the water we would have died within three minutes. We had to wear immersion suits which would increase our survival time to 45 minutes."

Robert, from Worthing, was responsible for the icebreaker which stopped the film crew's vessel suffering the same fate as Shackleton's, which froze in the ice.

Two eskimos from Greenland stayed with the crew, carrying rifles to protect them from polar bears and to advise on safety.

One day, filming began on an ice flow which seemed unlikely to crack.

Robert, who was also in charge of the lighting and camera rigs, said: "All of a sudden, the ice floe split in half, leaving a film set on one bit and thousands of pounds of equipment on the other.

"About ten of us, including Kenneth Branagh and the director, had to climb on to the ice floe, which could have cracked beneath our feet at any moment, to rescue the set.

"We managed to use a helicopter to save some bits and we also used cranes and a cargo net. Luckily, no one fell in."

He said this reflected what Shackleton and his men had to go through for months on end.

Mr Hooker described how as soon as the sun set at about 7pm, it would go from -5C to -25C in half an hour.

As the wind picked up and the bitter cold set in, the crew of 103 would retreat to their own Endurance ship where they slept for the five weeks.

Mr Hooker said: "In one scene, a man is asleep in his tent when an ice floe cracks beneath him. He sees the crack through the doorway of his tent.

"I don't know how Shackleton and his men survived for such a long time. They were lost on the ice floes.

"I didn't know much about him before I started filming but now I know he is an unsung hero. He has been overshadowed by explorers like Captain Scott.

"Shackleton had real determination. Branagh was the perfect actor to play him. Not only do they look similar but they are both passionate men."

After five months camping on ice, Shackleton and five men embarked on a perilous 800-mile journey across the ocean to get help.

They dragged themselves across 35 miles of snow and glaciers to reach a whaling station, where they raised the alarm.

Shackleton's 1914 voyage may have been doomed but he did lead his men to safety.

Mr Hooker, who lives with his wife Jo, 27, and 16-month-old baby George, said: "Being involved in this drama was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

"By the end of five weeks I was ready to go home. But the memory will stay with me forever. I would do it all again tomorrow."

Shackleton is screened on Channel 4, tonight and tomorrow, at 9pm.