“Man vs. Wild” Star Bear Grylls “Faked” Survival Techniques?

Former British Special Service officer Bear Grylls, host of Man vs. Wild, is the latest victim of the new media witchhunt for big fakers. His show, titled Born Survivor in the UK, is under investigation for allegedly staging stunts. According to The Sun:

Channel Four is investigating whether his 1.4 million viewers were misled after an adviser said that when Bear claimed to be a “real life Robinson Crusoe” on a desert island, he was really in hols hotspot Hawaii.

Survival expert Mark Weinert said HE led a team building the raft, which was then dismantled so Bear could be filmed making it.

He also said that when Bear was in the “wilderness” he stayed in a luxury lodge complete with TV and internet access.

The BBC has Channel 4′s statement in response to the allegations:

Channel 4 said in a statement that Born Survivor was “not an observational documentary series, but a ‘how-to’ guide to basic survival techniques in extreme environments”.

“The program explicitly does not claim that presenter Bear Grylls’ experience is one of unaided solo survival.

“For example, he often directly addresses the production team, including the cameraman, making it clear he is receiving an element of back-up.”

The broadcaster said Grylls carried out his own stunts and did place himself in perilous situations, “though he does so within clearly-observed health and safety guidelines required on productions of this kind”.

“However, we take any allegations of misleading our audiences seriously and will be looking into this further with Diverse [the production company behind the show] over the next few days.”

I must add that I’m a big fan of Grylls and his show Man vs. Wild. Maybe I’m a mere cynic, but do people actually expect perfect authenticity on a show like this? Do I care if when he was shown guzzling his own warm, salty piss in the 20th Century Fox backlot Australian Outback, he was actually having an Orange Sunkist? Not really. The show is very entertaining, remarkably informative, respectful of indigenous cultures, and yes, aspirational. (Grylls, as you may know, is a motivational speaker.) There’s a sense that anyone can beat the elements if you have your wits about you; I certainly remember some of his tips and have them ready for use if I ever find myself in a survival situation. For example, if I’m ever dehydrated in the middle of the African bush, I’d hope to have the presence of mind to squeeze that life-saving sip of water out of that huge pile of elephant dung.

What do you think?

In other news:

  • Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond got stuck in his car during those treacherous UK floods.(The Sun)
  • Simon Cowell is just behind Oprah Winfrey on American TV’s rich list.
    (The Sun)
  • Posh and Becks get the Tomkat treatment for their first U.S. party. Just Jared has the “star-studded” photos.
  • L.A. may never be rid of the Beckhams. “We’ve loved every minute so far…I can’t see us going back.” says Posh.(The Sun)
  • The folks over at The Sun, who were just outraged over the Celebrity Big Brother race row, celebrate Sienna Miller‘s latest “hookup” with some casual racism of their own.
  • Actor Ray Winstone, who plays a private eye on the series Vincent, has turned real-life detective as he tries to vindicate a prisoner convicted of murder.(Mirror)
  • Naomi Campbell mocks her legendary temper for a Dunkin’ Donuts ad.
    (Daily Mail)
  • Is Orlando Bloom dating his Pirates of the Caribbean co-star, actress Naomie Harris? (Daily Mail)
  • Camilla wore the Queen’s diamonds for her 60th birthday. Kate Middleton, however, upstaged her, “wearing a stunning full-length cream dress.”
    (Daily Mail)
  • “Casting directors at the BBC have been unable to find actresses for a new period drama because so few teenage girls can now speak with cut glass accents.”(Telegraph)
  • Lewis Hamilton‘s winning streak has ended.(Guardian)
  • Summer recipes from Britain’s top chefs.(Observer)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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