Man vs. Wild’s Bear Grylls stayed in hotels; Discovery says show will be “100% transparent”

Bear Grylls, star of The Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild–which airs in the UK as Born Survivor–is being investigated in the UK to see if he “deceived the public” after it was revealed that he stayed in hotels and wasn’t responsible for some of the survival techniques he demonstrates. The show follows Bear as he “strands himself in popular wilderness destinations where tourists often find themselves lost or in danger” and “demonstrates local survival techniques,” according to The Discovery Channel.

Citing an adviser for the show, the Sunday Times reported that “at one location where the adventurer claimed to be a ‘real life Robinson Crusoe’ trapped on ‘a desert island’, he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and spent nights at a motel.” In another episode, “where he was filmed biting off the head of a snake for breakfast and struggling for survival ‘with just a water bottle, a cup and a flint for making fire’, he actually slept some nights with the crew in a lodge fitted with television and internet access,” the paper reported.

The Sunday Times also revealed that “Mark Weinert, an Oregon-based survival consultant brought in for the job, [says] it was he who led the team that built the raft. It was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera.” He also says that in another episode, wild “horses were not wild but were brought in by trailer from a nearby trekking station for the ‘choreographed’ feature.”

The UK’s “Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had used hotels during expeditions,” to the Sunday Times. And the Discovery Channel released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that said,

“Discovery Communications has learned that isolated elements of the ‘Man vs. Wild’ show in some episodes were not natural to the environment, and that for health and safety concerns the crew and host received some survival assistance while in the field. … Moving forward, the program will be 100% transparent and all elements of the filming will be explained upfront to our viewers. In addition, shows that are to be repeated will be edited appropriately. Bear Grylls is a world-class adventurer and a terrific talent.”

TV ‘survival king’ stayed in hotels [Sunday Times]
Discovery’s ‘Wild’ storm: Authenticity questioned [Hollywood Reporter]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.