Man vs Wild
Aerial Telly is no stranger to Bear Grylls, the youngest Briton ever to climb Everest, Arctic explorer and SAS trained killer. He produced Escape to the Legion the highly watchable and bonkers show that followed Bear through Foreign Legion basic training in the Sahara with that maniac Sergeant Glenn Ferguson. But there's much more to Bear than being shouted at by Grumpy and the other dwarves - he's got his own thing going with Man vs Wild, the show where he is parachuted into the most inhospitable places on the planet and is forced to survive with just a knife and a water bottle. African Savannah, Costa Rican rainforest, Wolverhampton City Centre - Bear's done them all.
"Bear is parachuted into the most inhospitable places on the planet - African Savannah, Costa Rica rainforest, Wolverhampton City Centre - Bear's done them all."
Man vs Wild is one of the better endurance/survival programmes - a genre I confess I have a weak spot for. Whether it's the sadist in me I don't know but I can't get enough of people in horrible situations having to do horrible things to get by. Where else on television can you see a grown man eating elephant shit, carcass maggots and drinking his own piss like his name was Daniela Denby-Ashe?
"Where else on television can you see a grown man eating elephant shit, carcass maggots and drinking his own piss like his name was Daniela Denby-Ashe?"
As far as I can tell, Bear seems to enjoy this shit - not the elephant shit (although that wouldn't surprise me) but the general survivalist shit of being dropped out of planes, sleeping in hollow logs and being boiled and frozen by the elements. He has that remorselessly optimistic outlook that you expect from a committed Christian and frequently regales us with tales of survival from the particular locale he is in that week.
Interestingly, not all these tales have happy endings. Bear quite enjoys these ones. You can tell he's dying to say "Haha! I'm alive and they're dead - losers!". The show is presented from an educational point of view like "this is what you do when you're stuck in the Savannah" which I suppose is fair enough but it's a bit of a long shot. With all the impressionable people around today I picture them going all Lord of the Flies and eating dog shit the moment they take a wrong turn coming back from the newsagents.
There are many great feats of survival and Bear Grylls quietly pays homage to them with this series. Or possibly he doesn't as it seems that he spent half his time in a fucking hotel. Ah what the hell. It's good television and frankly some of the hotels I've stayed in have been a test of my survival skills. As long as the shit eating and mountain-climbing isn't faked I'm happy enough with that.
The best thing about it: Whenever he's forced to do something really horrible
The worst thing about it: The fact that it's just a touch made up
The verdict on Man vs Wild: As long as I know how to love I'll know I'm still alive.
Marks out of 10: 7.5
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© James Donaghy 2003-2013
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