Survivor Bear Grylls Could Have Been A ‘Survivor?’

by | August 11, 2010 at 7:28 AM | Interviews, Man vs. Wild, TV News

This I gotta see: According to Discovery, daredevil survivalist Bear Grylls will be seen Wednesday night on his show, ‘Man vs. Wild,’ constructing a windsurfer out of bamboo and then simply sailing away from a deserted island in the Western Pacific.

What do you think of that, Gilligan?

It’s the kind of derring-do we’ve come to expect from Grylls, 36, whose far-flung show returns with new episodes Wednesday (9 p.m./8c on Discovery) to resume its fifth season, starting with this desert-island adventure, filmed on a speck of land somewhere south of Papua, New Guinea. In each episode, Grylls travels to a remote location far from civilization to demonstrate what it takes to survive with no food, water, tools or matches.

“It’s what I do,” says Grylls matter-of-factly. “I’m good at it.” The Discovery Channel adventurer was just being modest during a stopover in New York City, where he sat for an interview on Tuesday. In an upcoming episode, he’ll be buried under 10 feet of hard, packed snow high up in the Canadian Rockies in the aftermath of an avalanche that he and his crew will cause on purpose, just to see how long it will take to rescue him. On the same excursion, Bear will be seriously injured in a collision with a cameraman while hurtling down a steep icy slope – the first time in more than 60 shows that Grylls had to be evacuated by helicopter. (He escaped serious injury.)

Also in the works: The first ‘Man vs. Wild’ videogame, due out in November from Crave Games.

Fancast asked the English-born survival expert if there are enough wild locations left in the world to keep his show going, what he thinks of ‘Survivor‘ on CBS, and where he hopes to go next. Here’s what he had to say:

After doing more than 60 shows, are you running out of wild locations? Is the world big enough to sustain the show going forward?
It’s amazing how many hellholes there are on this planet. And the more places we go, the more we realize that there are some seriously remote parts of this Earth, and there are places where it’s 200 or 300 miles to the nearest person. It’s good to be reminded every now and again that these places still exist.

Watch Bear dive into shark infested waters:

Most of us would believe mankind has encroached on everything to such an extent that such remote places would no longer exist.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a serious responsibility to guard those areas. And I think one of the great privileges of the show is that you get to go places that normal people wouldn’t be allowed to get to.

In other words, you have to get permission from various governments?
Yes. [For example, in an upcoming episode, he had to get permission to visit] Arnhemmland in the Northern Territory [of Australia] where there are more crocodiles than there are people. It’s just a huge swampland – you know, 100 percent humidity, 120 degrees heat, clouds of mosquitoes! We couldn’t hold a conversation like this – it’s like, Huh? [he makes a loud buzzing noise]. It’s a real privilege going to these places.

Have you been denied access to some places?
Probably. I mean, I kind of tend to sit down with producers twice a year and we work out sort of a shopping list of cool places we’d like to go to. And actually a lot of people suggest places and the production team picks what they think are the nastiest [and Grylls is not necessarily on hand in the meetings to learn where they’ve been rejected, he said].

What’s worse for you – extreme heat or extreme cold?
They both kill very quickly. I’ve been in deserts – the Sahara in the summer, Death Valley in the summer – and the brief is that if you get dropped in here with no water and no survival experience, you’ll be dead in three hours – not three days, three hours. At the same time, we’ve done the freezing wastelands of Siberia in the middle of winter where it’s minus 55, where if you don’t have decent protection from the weather you’re going to die. So at the extreme, it’s just very unforgiving. But if I had to pick one, I’d probably pick the cold – at least you can keep moving, at least you’ve got some control.

What do you think of  ’Survivor’ on CBS?
I was asked to do that years ago. I was asked to host it as well when it first came out. But it’s not my bag. To be honest, I’m not a TV person. I never aspired to do TV. I never wanted to. They asked me three times to do ‘Man vs. Wild.’ When they first came, I didn’t want to do TV, I just wanted to do my stuff [he earned his living leading expeditions to remote locations, kind of like what he does on the show]. The more I said no, the more they said, ‘We don’t want a TV host, we just want what you do.’ And I said, ‘As long as you promise me I can just do what I do, if you just film what we do, it will work.’ We had a blast in the first show – we were scaling cliffs and shooting rapids and chasing snakes. It didn’t feel like TV. It was really fun. And I look back now and I’m so glad that I did it. It’s been a huge privilege. It’s allowed me to do what would have taken me years to raise the funds to do. Now we do the expeditions back-to-back, so we’re really lucky.

See Bear make a shelter in the Sahara:

What about the moon? Would you like to go to the moon?
[Wife] Shara would hit you with her handbag. That’s not helpful. You can ask these questions and just go home, but I have to live with it! I love exploration. I love pushing boundaries. It’s always been the only thing I’ve been any good at, so you can’t say things like that to me!

OK, forgetting about the moon and fanciful places like that, what is your dream place to go that you have not been to yet?
I’m leading an expedition next week up to the Arctic to try and take an open boat through the Northwest Passage 2,500 miles through the ice, sleeping on the icebergs each night. [He indicates the boat’s length as being about the width of the room we were sitting in – less than 20 feet – and adds that the boat is an inflatable craft.]

Would it kill you to go in a closed boat? Why the open boat?
’Cause that’s been done. The challenge, you see, is you’ve got 50 mile-an-hour storms with hailstones and that’s where the adventure is.

In light of the accident in the Canadian Rockies, do you feel like you’re pushing your luck sometimes?
I’m very cautious with the wild and have good instincts about where the dangers come from. That was kind of an out-of-left field one that wasn’t really expected. It’s a sobering reminder that we’ve got to get it right every time. If you get it wrong once . . . You just have to be extra cautious about things. The job IS dangerous, but it’s also what I do. I’m good at these things and we’ve done 60-odd shows and this was the first time we had to call in that emergency chopper to get me off somewhere. I was lucky.