Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild
Man vs. Wild
Man Vs Wild Logo Green.png
Also known as Born Survivor: Bear Grylls
Ultimate Survival
Format Adventure
Starring Bear Grylls
Narrated by Bear Grylls
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 68 (including special episodes) (List of episodes)
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) Diverse Productions
Distributor Discovery Communications
Original channel Discovery Channel
Original run March 10, 2006 (2006-03-10) – present

Man vs. Wild,[1] also called Born Survivor: Bear Grylls[2], Ultimate Survival,[3][4] or Survival Game[5], is a survival television series hosted by Bear Grylls on the Discovery Channel. In the United Kingdom, the series was originally shown on Channel 4, but later series were broadcast on Discovery Channel UK. The series is produced by British television production company Diverse Bristol. The show was first broadcast on November 10, 2006 after airing a pilot episode titled The Rockies on March 10, 2006. In a special first aired on June 2, 2009, Will Ferrell joined Grylls on a survival trip to Northern Sweden.[6] Grylls also said he has been approached about doing a Man vs. Wild urban disaster 3-D feature film, an idea he said he would "really like to do."[7] Ben Stiller has also signed on for an episode later in the year.[8] Bear Grylls has signed on to showcase urban survival techniques in a new Discovery show called Worst-Case Scenario, which premiered on May 5, 2010 on the network.[9]



The general format of each episode is the premise that Grylls is left stranded in a region. The episode documents his efforts to survive and find a way back to civilization, usually requiring an overnight shelter of some kind. Mostly there are wild terrains - jungles, forests or similar non-urban areas. But for e.g. in special episodes, like that in Shipyard Gdynia[10] there are industry areas located in cities. Grylls also tells about successful and failed survivals in the particular area which he is in.

Each episode takes about one week to ten days to shoot. Before each show the crew does about a week of reconnaissance, followed by Grylls doing a flyover of the terrain. Grylls then undergoes two days of intensive survival briefings. "I spend two days on location prior to dropping in – I go through all the safety and comms briefing as well as being briefed on local conditions, and flora and fauna by local rangers and a local bushcraft expert." He is followed on the program by a cameraman and a sound engineer.[11] Directors oversee location filming and the final edit of each program. Season One directors included Dominic Stobart, Scott Tankard and Mark Westcott. Bear Grylls said, "I suppose to bear in mind that this is a worst-case scenario show, and therefore, of course things have to be planned. Otherwise, it would just be me in the wild and nothing happening, you know, 'cause textbook survival says you land, you get yourself comfortable, you wait for rescue, you don't do anything. It would be a very boring show. The show is how to deal if you fall into quick sand, if you get attacked by an alligator, if you have to make a raft. I get a really good briefing before we go. I know there's a big river there, there's gonna be a great cliff climb there, there's loads of snakes in those rocks, watch out for an alligator. So I do have a good idea of 80 percent of what's gonna happen." Furthermore, contrary to onscreen presentation, his movements are rarely from Point A to Point B: "We plan it, if we're doing different locations, sometimes we'll have to do a whole crew move and get a helicopter. Again, we're talking huge distances sometimes. So we'll use helis when we have to. They'll go out three weeks ahead of me, and go, "That bit's no good. Those rapids we thought are gonna be good are boring, but down there, it's great. He complete the journey alone without any human resource or help."[12] In April 2008, Grylls and Discovery released a book that includes survival tips from the TV show. In June 2009, Grylls had a special co-host, actor Will Ferrell in episode 41. This season 5 premiere episode was called Men vs. Wild.[6]

In July 2011, Grylls will have a special co-host, actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the season 7 premiere of the show on the Discovery Channel they will be traveling through Iceland.


Season Episodes Season Premiere Season Finale
Season 1 15 March 10, 2006 July 20, 2007
Season 2 13 September 11, 2007 June 6, 2008
Season 3 10 August 6, 2008 June 2, 2009
Season 4 11 August 12, 2009 February 17, 2010
Season 5 7 June 19, 2010 September 22, 2010
Season 6 6 February 17, 2011 March 24, 2011
Season 7 6 July 11, 2011 August 26, 2011
Season 8 19 September 6, 2011 December 2, 2011

Regional variations

The show is called Man vs Wild in the USA, Canada, NZ and Australia and this is what it is most commonly known as. The show does, however, go by different names in other parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, where the show originates, it is called Born Survivor: Bear Grylls and is broadcasted on the Discovery Channel.[13] It is also known as Ultimate Survival in other countries. Grylls' books have also been published under the Born Survivor name in the UK.[14] These variations run basically the same format as Man vs Wild however there are some differences between them. The opening animation/narrative is also different as Grylls introduces the show with "Hello and welcome to Born Survivor, I'm Bear Grylls and I'm in Scotland (for example) where I'm going to show you what it takes to get out alive". There are also a few differences in what he does during the shows however the names of the episodes are generally the same. The release date or new episodes also varies slightly as they cannot normally be arranged to show at exactly the same time due to schedules and time differences.

Criticism and response


In 2006 a Born Survivor crew member admitted that some scenes in episodes were misleading, indicating to viewers that Grylls was stranded in the wild alone when he was not.[15] The issue of scenes being manipulated was also raised by Mark Weinert, a U.S. survival consultant. One example he gave was of a raft allegedly being put together by team members before being taken apart so Grylls could be filmed building it. Other scenes that have been criticized include:

  • Grylls was shown trying to lasso "wild" mustang in the Sierra Nevada that were in fact tame and had been hired from a trekking station nearby.[16]
  • A scene where a crew member wore a bear suit to simulate a bear attack due to inability finding a tame bear. [17]
  • A scene where Grylls was purported to have escaped from an active volcano by leaping across lava, avoiding poisonous sulphur dioxide gas, was actually enhanced with special effects, using hot coal and smoke machines.[18][19]
  • Similarly, another episode gave viewers the impression that Grylls "was a 'real life Robinson Crusoe' stuck on a desert island", while in reality he was on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and retired to a motel at night.[16][20]

Show's response to criticism with changes

In response to these early criticisms, Discovery and Channel 4 aired re-edited versions of some episodes, removing elements that were too planned, with a fresh voice-over and a preceding announcement pointing out that some situations are "presented to Bear to show the viewer how to survive". However, five of the most controversial Season 1 episodes were never re-released after editing and are no longer available on DVD from Discovery. These are The Rockies, Moab Desert, Costa Rican Rain Forest, Mount Kilauea (Hawaii) and Desert Island (Hawaii).[21]

Following criticism in the media in July 2007 about elements of the show's first season, British Channel 4 temporarily suspended the show's second season for a few weeks, promising clarification and transparency in the production and editing of the show.[22] The channel responded to criticism of the show by pointing out that Grylls conducted all of his own stunts, many of which put him in perilous conditions, and that the show was not a documentary, but a "how-to" guide to "basic survival techniques in extreme environments."[16] The channel issued a statement saying that:

"The programme 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."[23]

The Discovery Channel also responded to the criticism by announcing that future airings would be edited (including a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode) so as not to imply to viewers that Grylls was left alone to survive during production of the show. Since then, Grylls has stated on camera when he has received assistance in order to demonstrate survival tactics or when he is exiting the setting for a period of time due to safety concerns. Grylls also tells the cameras filming behind the scenes footage how the film crew sometimes assists him in order to film certain sequences.[24][25][26][27] The Discovery Channel in the UK has also edited out certain scenes of Bear killing animals that he has captured for food. The Discovery Channel also released behind the scenes footage showing how sequences of Man Vs. Wild are filmed. In the footage, while setting up a scene, each production crew member is introduced and their role is briefly explained, including a safety consultant who served in the Royal Marines. During the scenes, Grylls tells how each crew members' role ensures his safety while he explains survival tactics. The footage includes open discussion over safety and other precautions.

On August 3, 2007, Grylls posted on his blog that the "press accusations of motels and stagings in the show that have been doing the rounds, all I can say is they don't always tell the full story, but that's life and part of being in the public eye I guess."[28] In response to allegations of spending nights in local hotels as opposed to staying in the shelters built during filming, Grylls clarifies in an article in the December 3 issue of People Magazine that:

“Episodes take about ten days to tape, explains Grylls: “The night stuff [shown on camera] is all done for real. But when I’m not filming I stay with the crew in some sort of base camp." Episodes now clarify when Grylls gets support from his crew and when situations are staged, “We should have done that from the start,” he says. “The more you see, the more real it feels.””[29]

The new shows and DVDs contain a notice stating that Bear will receive help from the camera crew on occasion, that he will in certain situations use provided safety equipment to minimize risks, and that he will sometimes deliberately put himself in perilous situations to demonstrate survival techniques. Grylls is specifically credited as "Presenter" to highlight his role in presenting survival techniques to the viewer.

See also


  1. ^ "Bear Grylls' Official Site: Latest News". Retrieved 2008-07-01. "...the last series of Man Vs Wild/Born Survivor..." 
  2. ^ "Born Survivor: Bear Grylls – Discovery Channel". Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  3. ^ "Ultimate Survival: Discovery Channel" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  4. ^ "TV Schedule: Discovery Channel – Ultimate Survival/Man vs. Wild" (in Dutch/English). Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  5. ^ "ディスカバリーチャンネル". Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b "Will Ferrell". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^,Bear-Grylls-tym-razem-w-Polsce,wid,12037583,wiadomosc.html?ticaid=1d533&_ticrsn=5
  11. ^ – Filming info
  12. ^ Bear Grylls wants to take Jennifer Lopez and Tom Hanks into the wild, Entertainment Weekly, 2009-06-24
  13. ^ "Born Survivor:Bear Grylls on the Discovery Channel". 2010-01-14. 
  14. ^ "Bear Grylls:Born Survivor Books". 2010-01-14. 
  15. ^ Deacon, Michael, "How a 19th-century Scot conquered the Outback", 30 May 2008
  16. ^ a b c Greenhill, Sam (2007-07-23). "How Bear Grylls the Born Survivor roughed it – in hotels". Mail Online (London). Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  17. ^ Tapper, James[1]
  18. ^ Booth, Robert, and Gadher, Dipesh, "‘Coal tipped into volcano’ for fake Grylls film", 12 August 2007
  19. ^ "Bear Grylls 'faked toxic volcanic fumes with a smoke machine' in new Born Survivor fake row", 12 August 2007
  20. ^ Booth, Robert, "TV 'survival king' stayed in hotels", 22 July 2007
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Grylls series 'to be transparent'", 24 July 2007
  23. ^ Survival show faces 'fake' claim, BBC News Online, Monday, 23 July 2007
  24. ^ "Discovery 'Man vs. Wild' not so rough after all?". Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  25. ^ "Survival show faces 'fake' claim". BBC News. 2007-07-23. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  26. ^ Kaplan, Don (2007-07-24). "GRYLLS' THRILLS BOGUS: EXPERT". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  27. ^ "'Wild' Series to Be 'Transparent' to Viewers". Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  28. ^ Sahara Filming Update, Bear's Blog, August 3, 2007
  29. ^ [2], People Magazine "Man VS Wild's Bear Grylls; A Force of Nature" By Johnny Dodd, December 3, 2007

External links

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