But the third one on Paris was very enjoyable. You can still catch it on ABC iView.
There was one long section in which he goes exploring under the city in the catacombs created by quarrying, and it made me realise I must still be capable of claustrophobia.
I once had a moderate attack of it while on a tour of some caves near Canberra. One section involved a narrow corkscrew type staircase, where the head height was pretty low, and it was while in this tight corner that the line of people ahead of me stopped, presumably while some goose ahead was admiring a particularly nice stalactite or something. There were people backed up behind me too, and it was this feeling of being stuck and being unable to move forward or backward in a space so confined that I couldn't even stand straight that suddenly made me feel panicky. I don't think I said anything, or maybe I did ask the people ahead of me if they could keep moving, but my heartbeat definitely rose and it felt a like a sinking feeling in the stomach. The line did start to move again soon enough, and I was able to complete the tour, as the cave opened up again a short time later. But I really wanted to get out as quickly as I could without making a scene.
This all came as a bit of a surprise to me, and for a couple of years later I was a little worried that it might come again in some other context. Would a aircraft make me feel like I have to rush to the door to open it at 30,000 feet? I did get a little worried on a couple of flights, but maybe it was worry about what would happen if I did get the claustrophobic feeling, rather than claustrophobia itself. Fortunately, that passed pretty soon, and long haul flights have not worried me since.
It made me feel a bit disappointed that maybe I was never cut out to be an astronaut after all, as per my childhood daydreams. (All capsules prior to the shuttle were an incredibly tight squeeze, and claustrophobia is something for which the astronauts are still definitely tested *.)
Anyhow, years later I did visit the Jenolan Caves, which I had been to as a boy with no trouble. I took a couple of tours and was OK; as long as there is plenty of headroom, I can get through it.
But last night, watching Griff wriggle down a hole that was the link between two underground tunnels gave me an instant reminder of the sensation of claustrophobia. It's been a while since I have felt that, but I think some other shows about cave explorers have reignited the feeling too.
For the same reason, I don't like to imaginatively put myself in the position of those Beaconsfield miners who survived the mine collapse in such a small space. Not that you would ever find me seeking work as a miner underground, but re-visiting in your mind a claustrophobic feeling is almost certainly not a good way to hope to avoid the feeling in the real world again..
For those who have worse attacks of it than me, it must feel very bad indeed.
* One site talking about being an astronaut as a career writes:
Astronauts-in-training participate in scenarios that simulate weightlessness, heavy gravity (excessive G-forces) and navigate nature's call in an unbroachable interstellar suit. Intensive psychological screening, required of all applicants, is supposed to weed out those with claustrophobia, but one or two are discovered annually in the program and dismissed.
Another article, talking about civilians who may be taking flights into space, writes this:
Jeff Feige, CEO of Orbital Outfitters, a commercial spacesuit developer, said that the training they envision for the use of their suits will range from basic classroom familiarization to simulated pressurization of suit and emergency egress from the vehicle while wearing the suit. Something as simple as testing putting on the suit can be useful for identifying people who have claustrophobia, he said. “A lot of people don’t realize they’re claustrophobic until that helmet is locked and they’re told they can’t take if off. And then all of a sudden they realize they are feeling a little uncomfortable and this isn’t exactly what they had expected.”