More Bear Grylls Fakery

If you thought Bear Grylls was out of trouble, you are out of luck!

Bear Grylls is accused of more fakery, this time by the networks themselves!

A reader mentioned that Channel 4 has already canceled his show. The Discovery Channel are still reviewing his shows before they decide.

From the Daily Mail:

Bear Grylls, presenter of ‘Born Surivor’ has been engulfed in further claims of having faked scenes in an episode of the hit TV show.

In an episode that is yet to be broadcast Grylls had to escape an active volcano in the Pacific by leaping across molten lava and avoiding clouds of ‘killer’ gas.

However, the episode of Born Survivor set on Mount Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been unmasked as a fake.

In the latest episode of TV series, yet to be broadcast on Channel 4, he is filmed amid billowing clouds of white gas seeping from the crust of the lava field.

“Look at this, you can actually see the sulphur dioxide seeping out of these vents,” he says. “In high concentrations this gas is a killer.”

Sulphur dioxide certainly is poisonous, but the smoke seen in the show had been faked by the production crew, the Sunday Times reported.

“Sulphur dioxide fumes are colourless and you can’t see it, so smoke generators were used off-screen to make the existing fumes seem visible,” said a safety adviser.

According to insiders, the red glow of the molten magma which he warned could incinerate him ‘in seconds’ was supplemented by burning hot coals brought in by members of the production team.

Last month it was revealed that Grylls stayed in hotels when he claimed to be ‘a real life Robinson Crusoe’ on a desert island and that the raft he used had actually been built by experts.

A Discovery Channel insider told the Sunday Times that the fakery was ‘unacceptable’ and had been identified in an internal investigation.

And More from the Times:

IT was billed as one of Bear Grylls’s most audacious challenges yet. The Eton-educated television adventurer had to escape an active volcano in the Pacific by leaping across molten lava and avoiding clouds of “killer” gas.

However, the episode of Born Survivor set on the Mount Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has emerged as faked in a scandal that has embroiled the television industry – and now threatens Grylls’s future TV career.

The white clouds of poisonous “sulphur dioxide” that billowed around the former SAS explorer were, in fact, harmless vapour created by smoke machines. And according to insiders, the red glow of the molten magma which he warned could incinerate him “in seconds” was supplemented by burning hot coals brought in by members of the production team.

This weekend Discovery Channel, which produced the programme, said the trickery had been identified as part of a review of the show.

Last month The Sunday Times disclosed how other parts of the programme, which were sold to Channel 4, were also faked: Grylls stayed in hotels when he claimed to be “a real life Robinson Crusoe” on a desert island; a raft he was shown building to use to escape was, in fact, put together by a team of experts; in another episode the producers shipped horses from a trekking station to pose as wild mustangs.

Now Grylls is in danger of being dropped from the C4 schedules. “If what has been alleged is proven to be true, I think the channel would have to think very seriously about its future relationship with him,” said a senior C4 executive.

Grylls, who once served with 21 SAS Territorial Army Squadron, first came to the public eye as the youngest Briton to climb Everest, at the age of 23, before moving into adventure documentaries.

In the volcano episode, which has not been broadcast on C4, he is filmed amid clouds of white gas seeping from the crust of the lava field. “Look at this, you can actually see the sulphur dioxide seeping out of these vents,” he says. “In high concentrations this gas is a killer.”

But this was “special effects” according to a safety adviser.

“Sulphur dioxide fumes are colourless and you can’t see it, so smoke generators were used off-screen to make the existing fumes seem visible,” he said.

A Discovery insider said the fakery was “unacceptable” and had been identified in an internal investigation. Now the channel is reediting the series. Viewers will hear a disclaimer before each show stating that Grylls receives help from survival experts and health and safety officers.

C4 will decide whether to continue broadcasting Grylls’s programmes after its own investigation into Born Survivor concludes this autumn. It has already decided not to repeat the show, which drew 1.4m viewers in 2006.

A spokesman for Grylls said he felt unable to comment as the investigation was continuing.

The Wikipedia entry on Man VS Wild has also been changed to reflect these new issues:

Use of crew and simulations of danger

Grylls has stated numerous times on camera that he is not to receive any assistance unless his life is in danger. However, in July 2007 it was reported in the mainstream media that at least portions of some episodes were staged and that Bear did not always survive without help. One of the more serious allegations is that while Grylls claimed to be sleeping outdoors, he was allegedly sleeping in hotels (although on Jimmy Kimmel Live, before the accusations came out, Bear stated that only the cameramen were flown out at night). The Discovery Channel said that future airings would be edited to reflect such things.[3][4][5][6]

Other reported instances of outside influence or staged situations include the following:

  • Grylls admitted wearing a flotation device in the pilot episode to ride down a river in a staged shot, citing safety reasons. He claimed that he was displeased with the decision, which came from Discovery producers, and has since been able to avoid the use of such devices.[7]
  • The director of the Desert Island episode, Graham Strong, noted that a diver was at hand who checked for sharks while Bear was adrift (he did not spot the tigers, only reef sharks), and that “we” beat on the raft to scare the tiger sharks away. Also, in the Copper Canyon, Mexico episode, director Scott Tankard says that the local Indian tribe, the Rarámuri Indians, acted as their guides.[8]
  • According to the survival consultant for the show’s Sierra Nevada and Desert Island episodes, Mark Wienart of Lifesong Adventures, the “wild” horses in the Sierra Nevada episode were shipped in for a choreographed feature.[9][10]
  • The Desert Island raft was not made by Bear; it was made by a team of people over a week and a half, using rope, and was dissembled for Bear to put together on camera.[11][12]
  • Crew members simulated molten lava by using smoke machines and hot coals. The smoke machines were used to simulate poisonous sulphur dioxide, though Grylls was not in fact facing real danger.[13]
  • Grylls gives the impression of being lost when he is only a few yards from tourist locations and areas of relatively heavy traffic.[14]
  • Hiring a man in a bear suit because they could not get a tame bear, running the show with a “script” (with scheduled scenes such as “Scene 10 – Grizzly Attacks Camp”), pretending that a snake found dead on the side of a road was alive, eating steak inside a badger skin, and hoisting Bear into a tree to make it look like his parachute “snagged”[15]

According to a C4 executive, ““If what has been alleged is proven to be true, I think the channel would have to think very seriously about its future relationship with him.”[16]

Inaccurate survival advice

The show has also garnered its share of criticism concerning the quality of its survival advice. The show’s first survival consultant, Ron Hood, posted on his website,

“I want to remind everyone that Bear is very capable and highly skilled in survival skills.”

“We both objected to portions of the show when we filmed but thought we knew that my narration would enlighten the viewers about the hows, whys and wherefores of what look like dangerous activities. When that narration was removed it left Bear looking like he was clueless. He is not clueless. He is clever, courageous and capable. If anyone can save this show it is Bear.”

“As I posted when we started this project months ago, the show was supposed to be a new format that was drama driven with an educational and adventure component. The script I have looks nothing like the final show.”

“I think Discovery did the viewing public a serious disservice by excluding the educational narration and concentrating on travel. Someone WILL attempt river travel as shown and there will be problems. Others will run from camp because they hear noises… Someone will attempt a rappel with paracord. People are like that. Discovery holds a huge credibility advantage and that alone will act as an endorsement of the actions seen in the show. Keep in mind that a LOT of people saw the show and a few of them are ignorant enough to attempt what they saw. Disclaimers aside, the presentation looks feasible. The fact that some folks overlooked the errors just proves the point.”[17]

Among the more commonly cited inaccurate advice:

  • Drinking urine: Urine is saline and a desiccant, like seawater. Drinking urine in a survival situation will usually support life for one or two more days, until the toxic compounds and salinity of the urine begin to take their toll on the body [1]. Drinking urine for survival is advised against by the US Army Field Manual[2], the head of the Texas Urological Society[3], and numerous survival instructors and guides.[4][5][6][7][8][9]
  • Bear (animal) advice: Bears do not “toy” with you, nor should anyone run from a bear, nor are the majority of bear charges actual attacks.[10][11][12]
  • Taking risks: The typical instinct for a person who is lost is to rush off in hopes of finding civilization; this is generally considered the worst possible reaction. Unless you know which way to go, you make your situation worse; survival is not a race. Likewise, being lost isn’t usually what kills people; it’s performing dangerous tasks (unnecessary rock climbing, etc) that risks your life. The standard advice is that if you don’t know which way to go (i.e. if you are truly lost), meet your survival needs and try to signal for rescue.[13][14][15][16]
  • Using parachute cord to bear weight: Parachute cord is not abrasion-resistant and is weak compared to rock climbing rope.[17][18]
  • Firestarting: In most episodes, Bear uses a firesteel (improperly referred to as a flint), which is a popular and relatively easy way to start a fire. Drill methods require notches in the fireboard. Coals should not be handled directly. The string on a fire bow’s spindle should be wrapped so that it does not rub against itself.[19][20][21][22]
  • Drinking from dung: Most waterborne diseases are spread through the fecal-oral route, such as giardiasis, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, bacterial dysentery, typhoid fever, vibrio parahaemolyticus infections, and polio. Drinking from dung is drinking a bacterial concentrate. Elephant dung is known to contain E. coli, salmonela, clostridium, and pseudomonas.[23] On Conan O’Brien, Bear called the dung “sterile”.[24]

Supposedly, Grylls is shooting the next season of Man Vs Wild, but I’ve seen a press release saying that he was vacationing with his family.

* * * * *

Relevant Posts

13 Responses to “More Bear Grylls Fakery”

  1. 1 Alaskan September 7, 2009 at 10:04

    I have one problem with what you said. “Bears do not toy with you”. Actually living in ALaska and having people come into my class and watching documentaries for school. Thats wrong. Black bears maybe, but grizzly bears 9 times out of 10 dont attck for hunger, they feel threatened. They slap you around until they feel sufficently that the threat is over and having proven they are the dominant creature round.

  2. 2 nippy vibes September 10, 2009 at 22:37

    Well bear grylls/ discovery emphasis is on EDUCATING people how to survive in a certain situation and not bear grylls the survivor in the film. He may be able to survive on other films by himself but sometimes he needs helps and tools to emphasize a certain point to go through. I believe this show purpose is to EDUCATE people.

  3. 3 RON FELLETI September 19, 2009 at 21:45

    Bear Grylls,
    Fake or not,one of the most exciting shows that my family and i watch. At least you can watch this show without, nudity, sex, cursing. I believe, real or not, keep up the good work. We love your show.

    thank you bear,
    ron felleti
    my kids would love a response.

  4. 4 range September 20, 2009 at 00:31

    Hi Ron!
    Nudity? Well I’ve seen season 6 and Bear seems to strip down and get buck naked quite a bit, but other than that, it’s fine. The show is entertaining when you consider it just that, entertainment.

  5. 5 tom james October 20, 2009 at 07:17

    Bear Grylls has extremely rare qualities and his skills and readiness to put himself at risk and educate the public in areas such as survival skills should, in my opinion, by carefully weighed against some possible errors committed in his shows…why not rather than cancel his show simply rectify the errors… is not reasonable for us to expect him to be perfect.

  6. 6 bloubul January 3, 2010 at 18:45

    Ray Mears is stupid for insualting bear gryll, Ray can’t say I climed mount everest, he is just jealos that bear is better then him.

  7. 7 Ryan February 1, 2010 at 09:13

    This show is easily one of my favourite shows on TV. Bear Grylls obviously knows what he’s doing. It seems to me that IF there is anything faked it comes from overprotective directors and higher-ups than from Bear himself; after all he got into the British special forces at 19, youngest man ever to climb everest and a whole lot more. I don’t think he needed someone to fake that.
    Regardless of what comes out in the end, this show is inspiring and educational and can definitely open people’s mind to things they would have never thought of in a survival situation.

  8. 8 Matt Dean March 24, 2010 at 07:55

    Yeh exactly!! It is an entertaining show, Bear is great in it, and lets face it, it is not real. Right now, I am watching the one where he is in Belize. He has just slipped off the edge of a cliff face “just give me a minute… pant… pant…” but in slo-mo I can clearly see the rope he is hanging onto in his other hand when he goes over. But this does not detract from how entertaining the show is. Jeez – they will be banning wrestling next!!!

  9. 9 Geoff August 13, 2010 at 06:30

    The whole problem with articles like this is that they single out a small list. If you count the amount of survival advice given, and the disclaimer at the beginning of shows that says “BEAR IS PUT IN SITUATIONS TO DEMONSTRATE SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES”, the whole thing about him faking the parachute snag is ONLY to show you how to get out of that. It’s completely irrelevant as to whether or not it ACTUALLY snagged.

    It’s a great show, and Bear Grylls does and eats a lot of things most people would have a very difficult time eating or doing.

    That man has balls.

    Balls of steel.

  10. 10 John K November 8, 2010 at 22:42

    1. “Bear was the youngest man ever to climb Everest.” Wrong. He wasn’t ever even the youngest Brit.”

    2. “Bear was in the British Special Forces.” Wrong. Bear was in a part-time reserve unit of the Territorial Army that averages 2 weekends a month on duty.

    3. “It doesn’t matter if the show is fake; Bear is just demonstrating survival methods.” Wrong. A faked demonstration is not a demonstration at all. And, a faked demonstration of a dangerous act could kill you if you try to duplicate it in a real situation.

    4. “The show’s purpose is to EDUCATE people.” Wrong. The show’s purpose to make Discovery and Bear a ton of money.

    5. “The show is ENTERTAINING.” Only if you have an I.Q. slightly below that of a turnip.

  11. 12 mark osborne August 10, 2011 at 05:04

    I still think bear is a well trained in art of survival. It states clearly in man vs wild that some scenes are recreations for entertainment , it also is stated by bear in some cases that his way is opposite of what is in training manual.

    The show is great , why is the world so skeptical of every single thing ?

    Too much free time and people able to blog about things that they only just suspect or are merely rumours.

    Great show , great guy and great locations that we would normally never see otherwise.

    Thank you Bear and Discovery Channel for a great show , keep up good work.

    I certainly would never trust any show to teach me survival methods and would certainly study , get training , or take classes prior to going out on any primitive survival adventures and i feel sorry for people judging this show based on claims it’s not a true survival show….come on people , it’s real for what it is , and he does some incredible things on Man vs Wild.

    Very impressive Bear , one true fan here .

  12. 13 Richard R November 26, 2011 at 10:46

    I thought some of the fakes or pre arranged camera set ups were intended as subtle humour. It s all good. Why some people expect everything they see or hear to be real I have no idea. If a politician can lie sure as hell TV can.

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