‘Man vs. Wild’ is still one of the most popular shows of all time. Even after all those years on the air, it turns out there are plenty of behind the scenes secrets about the show that many of us never knew.
There are adventure series, and then there’s ‘Man vs. Wild.’ The show first hit the air in 2006 and ran for seven seasons until 2011. Throughout the series, we saw Bear Grylls take the leading role as he tackled some of the most unforgiving terrain and harshest elements as he taught us all about how to survive in the wild. Fans fell in love with Bear’s can-do attitude and his willingness to tackle any problem that stood in his way. It wasn’t long before the success of the show in the UK meant it aired across the pond, where millions of people across the US fell in love with the show.
Although ‘Man vs. Wild’ was an incredibly successful show, many people have questioned every aspect of the series. Did Bear Grylls really take on the elements? How did he learn to survive in the wild? Where is the help if something goes wrong? Over the years, there were plenty of changes to the show and several rumors about what really happened behind the scenes. Apparently, not everything was as it seemed on our screens. It turns out that you can’t always trust what you see on TV after all.
Bear Grylls isn’t the host’s real name
Many of us have fallen in love with Bear Grylls over the years, especially thanks to his survival series ‘Man vs. Wild.’ He seemed like the perfect man for the job. After all, bears are fierce and strong. Who wouldn’t want to see someone named after the great creatures take on Mother Nature?
Sadly, it turns out that Bear isn’t the star’s real name. The host is actually called Edward Michael Grylls, but Bear wasn’t a random choice. Lara Fawcett, the host’s sister, gave Bear the nickname when he was just one week old, and it’s stuck ever since. He decided to opt for the name Bear Grylls as soon as he signed up to TV, and he’s kept it all these years.
Bear Grylls has a team of safety experts around him on Man vs. Wild
Working alongside the same people for so many years meant it wasn’t long before Bear Grylls and the team on ‘Man vs. Wild’ grew to become pretty close friends. In fact, some of them still work together today. The situations that helped them to grow so close? That was heading out into the wild together each time.
Yes, Bear was never alone when he was filming ‘Man vs. Wild.’ It turns out that he was usually accompanied by a safety team, a director, two sound people, and two camera operators to capture the action. The safety team was there to make sure no one got hurt, including the host, who claimed to be the expert in most of the situations.
Man vs. Wild sometimes claimed they were in different locations
Have you ever wondered where Bear Grylls is heading for his next adventure? It might not always be where you think. That’s because former crew members have reported that not all locations on screen were the ones they were supposed to be. Apparently, they would sometimes find locations that looked good for the series and told viewers they were actually somewhere else in the world.
One of those times was reportedly when Bear Grylls was stranded on an isolated island in ‘Man vs. Wild.’ In reality, the former crew members say they were at a Hawaiian resort and used camera shots and the local wilderness to make it look as though they were completely alone. This is reportedly just one of the many occasions.
Bear Grylls was in the military
Bear Grylls is portrayed to be many things. A fearless explorer. A survival expert. A charming TV host. The list could go on. However, it turns out that before any of that came into his life. Bear was actually in the military. He was a part of the British Special Air Service for three years, where he learned all about combat survival skills.
The SAS is thought to be one of the most elite warfare units across the world and taught Bear everything he needed to know about winter and desert warfare, medic training, climbing, diving, parachuting, and combat survival. In the end, Bear served in two tours of North Africa before an accident meant he had to be honorably discharged.
He isn’t a qualified survival expert
Although his time in the SAS gave Bear Grylls all the skills he needed to survive in the wild, he is not a qualified survival expert like ‘Man vs. Wild’ wants us to believe. It’s not until we start to look at Bear’s qualifications compared to fellow survival experts Les Stroud and Ray Mears that we learn his experience doesn’t stand up to theirs.
Les Stroud has been teaching wilderness survival since 1990 and even teaches his skills to members of the Canadian military. On the other hand, Ray Mears has been teaching bushcraft skills to the military and citizens since 1983. To top it off, Ray was even drafted by the British police to track down a wanted criminal.
Bear Grylls opened the Bear Grylls Survival Academy
Bear Grylls doesn’t have the same survival skills as others in the world, but that didn’t stop him from opening the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. Here, people can learn everything they see the survival star get up to in ‘Man vs. Wild’ and get up close and personal with the star himself.
The first center opened in the UK in 2012 before another cropped up in New York two years later. The courses don’t come cheap, but many ‘Man vs. Wild’ fans can’t wait to get their hands on an experience. They vary in length from 24 hours to a few days and see people take on all kinds of adventures, including ziplining, rock climbing, abseiling, and swimming, among other skills.
His stunts once caused Bear Grylls to break his back
Many people have questioned how much Bear Grylls really gets up to in ‘Man vs. Wild.’ One thing is for sure: one of his previous stunts caused the TV star to break his back. It was 1995, and Bear was just 21 years old at the time. He was still training with the military and was one of the many sent out on a parachute exercise.
Bear was supposed to jump from the plane and glide down before pulling the parachute, but it failed to inflate, and Bear plummeted to the ground from 16,000 feet instead. He later told the Daily Mail that he should have cut the cord and used the reserve parachute. Bear thought there was time to fix the issue.
Bear Grylls was once the youngest Brit to climb Mount Everest
One of the many things that Bear Grylls has under his belt is he was once the youngest Brit ever to climb Mount Everest. This is a far cry from some of his questionable adventures on ‘Man vs. Wild.’ It was 1998, and Bear trained for an entire year before he took on the task of climbing the highest peak in the world.
The most impressive part? This was just 18 months after Bear broke his back in the horrific parachuting accident. Bear later spoke to The Telegraph, where he confessed that he should have lost his life multiple times on his way to the peak of Everest. Thankfully, the explorer eventually made it to the top and returned without any major accidents.
His obsession with Everest didn’t end after Bear Grylls reached the top
Reaching to the top of Mount Everest wasn’t Bear Grylls’ last brush with the mountain. In fact, it only fuelled his love of pushing things further and further. Shortly after ‘Man vs. Wild’ hit the air, Bear decided that he wanted to fly a powered paraglider higher than anyone else had ever managed before. There was only one place for the task: Mount Everest.
Bear and his partner flew more than 450 feet higher than the top of the mountain that already stands at an impressive 29,035 feet. Although he didn’t fly directly over the peak of the mountain to avoid Chinese airspace, Bear did pull off his almighty task and set the bar high for anyone brave enough to try and break his record.
Climbing Mount Everest gave Bear Grylls his big break
‘Man vs. Wild’ turned Bear Grylls into the star that many of us know and love today – and has divided the nation about what really happens on the show. However, Bear wasn’t always a TV star. The fame came after he reached the top of Mount Everest. Apparently, Bear decided he wanted to get into TV – he just needed to get his foot in the door.
A deodorant brand approached the explorer about becoming the face of their new product, and Bear quickly snapped up the offer. The commercial featured Bear’s story of climbing up Mount Everest and quickly won the campaign of the year award in the UK. Bear has been asked to promote several brands and products ever since.
Bear Grylls holds a black belt in Shotokan
So we know the star of ‘Man vs. Wild’ doesn’t have as many exploring and survival skills as several other TV stars, but that doesn’t mean Bear Grylls is a man to be messed with. It turns out that he has a black belt in Shotokan, a type of karate that incorporates various types of martial arts.
It’s all because Bear had enough of bullies and wanted to show the world that he was a force to fear. Bear opened up about his journey through the belts in his autobiography, where he explains that he felt extremely proud to earn each of the belts until he was finally handed the prestigious black belt. It’s a moment that Bear will never forget.
The crew actually provides some of the materials found in the wild
So Bear Grylls can climb a mountain, but he can’t find everything he needs to survive in the wild? That’s right! That is if the rumors are true, of course. Bear often builds various rafts, shelters, and useful items throughout ‘Man vs. Wild.’ However, some former crew members claim that not everything is as it seems. If you’ve wondered how Bear finds all these materials, you’re not alone.
The former crew members state that they would sometimes bring along certain materials to ensure there was enough to build the proper supplies. This could be anything from branches to leaves and just about anything in between. If there seems to be an overly helpful object around, there’s a chance it might not have been an accident.
Bear Grylls doesn’t sleep in the wild on Man vs. Wild
One of the best things about getting out in the wild is getting to spend the night under the stars. Unfortunately, rumors claim that Bear Grylls wasn’t a fan of the outdoors when it came to sleeping on ‘Man vs. Wild.’ Several stories claimed that Bear would sleep in hotels rather than his homemade shelters, which was later confirmed by the show itself.
A spokesperson for ‘Man vs. Wild’ said they took allegations of misleading the audience very seriously. Although the show claims that Bear did everything himself and would pull off his own stunts, they said that ‘Man vs. Wild’ is “a “how-to” guide” rather than a documentary about Bear’s time in the wild. A room for one then?
Bear Grylls owns his own private island
It looks as though Bear Grylls doesn’t get enough outdoorsy time on ‘Man vs. Wild’ as the host also has his own private island. This is no flashy celebrity private island with its own mansion and giant swimming pool. Oh no, this is perfect for the man who loves to spend most of his time outdoors. Bear spoke to Vanity Fair in 2012, where he opened up about the island.
Apparently, it’s five miles offshore and has no running water or electricity. To top it off, Bear’s private island has its own lighthouse with views over the cliffs and local dolphins and seals that frequent the area. For Bear, this is his favorite place to be out of anywhere in the world.
Man vs. Wild has different names around the world
Many of us know the show as ‘Man vs. Wild.’ However, depending on where you are in the world will determine what you call the show. That’s because the show has several names that are used in various nations around the world. Some of the many are ‘Bear Grylls,’ ‘Ultimate Survivor,’ ‘Survival Game,’ and ‘A Born Survivor: Bear Grylls.’
Thankfully, every version of the show is the same – it just comes with its own name. However, spreading around the world hasn’t been all good for the show. While it’s helped make Bear Grylls a household name, it’s also caused more people to question if things are as they seem. Whatever the case, Bear is still one of the most popular stars of a survival show.
Each stunt is choreographed on Man vs. Wild
Many shows tell us not to follow what we see in the program. So what about ‘Man vs. Wild’? The show is supposed to teach us how to survive in the wild. Surely that means we have to try things out ourselves? While Bear Grylls is often seen leaping from great heights and dangling off the edge of a cliff, it’s apparently not his first time pulling off the stunts.
Some former crew members claim that each stunt was choreographed and rehearsed rather than the spontaneous moment we see on our screens. This is supposedly to make sure no one is in any real danger. To top it off, it’s believed that Bear uses hidden safety equipment to be extra safe.
Many of the survival techniques on Man vs. Wild aren’t real
If you’ve found yourself wondering how something on ‘Man vs. Wild’ might work, you’re not alone. In fact, it turns out that not all of Bear Grylls’ survival techniques are even a thing. One of the many things that Bear is famous for is his time squeezing water out of animal droppings. One of the most memorable scenes happened when Bear was filming in Africa.
Bear grabbed a handful of elephant droppings and squeezed it until he had some water to drink. The theory was enough to see many hide behind their couch – and made Les Stroud speak up during an Ask Me Anything. Les claims that it’s only possible to get water out of droppings if someone covered it with bottled water first.
Some of Bear Grylls’ survival techniques are pretty dangerous
If things weren’t bad enough already, it runs out that some of Bear Grylls’ survival techniques could actually put you in more danger. The host has been bashed for drinking his own passings in the past, but that’s just the beginning. Two of Bear’s most common mistakes include getting wet when you don’t have to and rushing through dangerous terrain.
Fans of the show often notice how Bear rarely walks anywhere. Instead, he likes to swing, jump, leap, and run his way down cliffs and across mountains as quickly as possible. During one episode of the show, Bear took things to a new level when he grabbed a long tree branch and decided to pole vault several hundred feet down a mountain.
Various survival techniques on Man vs. Wild could end your life
Just when it seems that things couldn’t get any worse, it turns out that many of the survival techniques shown on ‘Man vs. Wild’ could actually be enough to end your life. Even something as simple as a broken ankle could spell the end when you are miles away from civilization. Bear Grylls loves to jump from great heights and rappel down vines. However, there’s something worse: constantly getting wet.
Bear has been seen swimming through river rapids, swimming across arctic waters, and even diving into waterfalls. That’s great until someone gets hypothermia from being soaking wet and wearing drenched clothes while stranded out in the wild. Many have accused Bear of giving out potentially life-ending advice throughout ‘Man vs. Wild.’
Bear Grylls is scared of heights
Throughout the years, we have seen Bear Grylls seemingly live life on the edge in ‘Man vs. Wild.’ Would you believe that he is actually incredibly scared of heights? While not everything appears to be as it seems on the show, it turns out that Bear is a better actor than many of us ever believed.
That’s because he knows how to throw himself from great heights even though he is cripplingly scared of them. Bear has opened up about how he overcomes his fear on ‘Man vs. Wild.’ Apparently, he gets scared of a lot of things on the show. All he knows if the more scared he is of being sat on the edge of something high, the better it looks on TV.
The host has had several run-ins with boats
We know that bear Grylls likes to throw himself into the water as seemingly every chance he gets on ‘Man vs. Wild,’ and it turns out he can’t keep away from the stuff when he’s not on the show either. Bear wanted to do something for his friend after he lost his legs in a freak climbing accident.
He quickly decided to row 22 miles of the River Thames to raise money for his friend. The difference? Bear removed practically all of his clothes and did it all in a homemade bathtub. The TV star has even tried to cross the North Atlantic Ocean in nothing more than an open-air inflatable boat. It seems nothing can keep Bear away from the water.
Bear Grylls was criticized for not making his children wear helmets
Being on an extreme survival show might have you think that bear Grylls thinks about nothing but safety when it comes to his children, right? Apparently, that’s not always the case. The TV star was criticized in 2015 when he confessed that he doesn’t make his three young children wear helmets when they go paragliding.
According to Bear, the reason that he doesn’t make his children wear helmets is that he knows the sport well and feels that he is capable of handling any problems that come his way. Of course, this was met with a lot of backlash as people wondered how Bear could give safety advice to other people while still letting his children put themselves at risk.
His son was once abandoned on rocks in the middle of the ocean
Letting his children go paragliding without helmets was the least of Bear Grylls’ worries when it emerged that he left his 11-year-old son Jesse in the middle of the ocean. Jesse had been left on some rocks in the water and was abandoned until the tide came in. It turns out there was a good reason for it: Bear wanted to set up a training exercise for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
The problem? Bear forgot to mention to the lifeboat crews that he was planning a live rescue of a child. The RNLI were less than impressed, with a spokesperson saying no one had any idea about the supposedly planned rescue and confessed they “wouldn’t put my young son on the rocks.”
Bear Grylls has eaten just about everything on Man vs. Wild
If there is one thing that many of us know Bear Grylls for, it’s eating all manner of things when he’s out in the wild. Sure, he might have tried to make a name for himself as a survival expert, but that went out the window when many people tuned in to see what was on the menu for Bear each episode.
According to Bear, the worst thing that he’s ever eaten is the gentlemen area of a goat. That’s not the only thing that’s been on Bear’s plate. He has also eaten the likes of droppings, snakes, bodily fluids, and scorpions. If you can find it in the wild, there is a good chance that Bear has eaten it at some point in his life.
The host climbed one of the harshest mountains in the world
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary went down in history as the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The pair eventually made it to the top in 1953 and went down in history as the two people who reached the peak of the impossible mountain. For years, people believed the only people who could reach the top were gods.
Although Edmund was a daring man, he always said that Mt. Ama Dablam in the Nepalese Himalayas was the unbeatable mountain. Even with the bar set so high, Bear Grylls decided that he wanted to take it on. Thankfully, Bear proved that he could beat anything as he became the youngest Brit to climb Mt. Ama Dablam in 1997.
Bear Grylls claims he’s had more than 4,000 mosquito bites
Would you believe that Bear Grylls has kept count of every mosquito bite he’s ever received on ‘Man vs. Wild’? Many of us have suffered from mosquito bites over the years, and Bear is no stranger to the pesky insects. According to the explorer, he has had roughly 4,319 mosquito bites throughout the show.
That’s a pretty accurate guess for someone who was making a guess. It turns out that even the bugs can’t get enough of the star. Just because Bear Grylls seemingly knows his way around a mountain and how to build shelters out of things in the woods, he is yet to find a way to keep mosquitos at bay. Perhaps it’s time for a new show, Man vs. Bugs?
Former crew members say many scenes on Man vs. Wild were staged
Some of the scenes in ‘Man vs. Wild’ seem out of this world – and that’s because they apparently were. That is according to some former crew members. One of them went public with certain behind the scenes secrets as they accused producers of staging certain scenes. Apparently, this was a frequent occurrence for people on the set.
Channel 4 started to investigate the allegations. In one episode, Bear claimed that he was living off of a flint for fire, a cup, and a water bottle in the wild. He was even seen biting the head off a snake and eating it for his breakfast. What viewers didn’t know was that Bear was actually staying at a local hotel that included breakfast.
The show was forced to apologize for faking some scenes
In a twist, both the Discovery Channel and Bear Grylls apologized for fake scenes in ‘Man vs. Wild.’ Bear spoke to the BBC, where he admitted that he felt people had been misled in the series about what really happened behind the scenes. The Discovery Channel added to the apology as they said that “isolated elements” in the show weren’t “natural to the environment.”
The channel even said they promised future seasons would be more transparent. However, that was enough to cement worries in some people’s heads. What were the scenes that had been staged? What was real on the show anymore, and what was being made up for the camera? These were all questions that continued to plague the rest of ‘Man vs. Wild.’
There is now a disclaimer at the start of the show that tells people some scenes are staged
In the end, ‘Man vs. Wild’ decided to add a disclaimer to the beginning of the show that said both Bear Grylls and the show received support when they were in dangerous situations, especially when someone’s life was on the line. That was just the beginning. The disclaimer also highlighted that some situations were added to the show to give Bear the chance to show survival techniques.
The disclaimer finished by saying that people should always seek professional advice before putting themselves in dangerous situations. This caused many people to view Bear as a bit of a fraud as they questioned if any of the life-threatening situations in the show were ever real or if they were really watching a reality show with Bear Grylls.
Many of the demonstrations were exaggerated on Man vs. Wild
Many of us have learned that shows often exaggerate certain scenes, especially when it comes to reality shows. However, ‘Man vs. Wild’ was supposed to be different as fans got to watch Bear Grylls take on the elements. That was until the show admitted that it is a how-to survival guide rather than real life.
In the end, the show was forced to exaggerate certain scenes to make better viewing for fans at home. Would Bear really need to try and get water from animal droppings or have to rappel into a waterfall down some vines? Probably not. Team that with the fact that half of the things shown in the show wouldn’t even work in real life, and things get a little skewed.
They used a smoke machine to look like fumes from a volcano
One episode of ‘Man vs. Wild’ in 2007 saw Bear Grylls tackle one of Mother Nature’s most dangerous weapons: a volcano. Sadly, the production team decided to push things a little too far as they wanted to up the drama on the Mount Kīlauea volcano found in Hawaii. One scene in the episode sees Bear at the top of the volcano surrounded by billowing smoke.
Bear even commented on the sulfur dioxide “seeping out of these vents.” The TV star said that in high quantities, it could end someone’s life. That would have been the case if the gas was actually sulfur dioxide. Instead, it turns out that smoke machines were used behind the scenes to create a dangerous atmosphere.
The wild horses in one episode of Man vs. Wild were actually tame pets
It turns out that certain other aspects of the show were dramatized to make things seem more entertaining than they were in reality. One of the things on the show involved Bear Grylls trying to take on a group of wild horses. At least, they seemed to be wild until the reality came to light. The world soon learned that the horses weren’t wild and were actually trained animals.
Fans learned about the deception and forced Discovery Channel to make another statement saying they would be transparent with viewers from there on – again. They even vowed every former episode would be edited appropriately. Although ‘Man vs. Wild’ has seen its fair share of drama over the years, people still couldn’t get enough of the series.
The crew on Man vs. Wild often step in to help Bear Grylls
Many accomplishments in ‘Man vs. Wild’ have left us feeling pretty impressed at what Bear Grylls can accomplish. Unfortunately, there are rumors that not everything is made there and then on the show. Some people claim that certain objects were built ahead of time. It’s reported that producers roped in experts and members of the crew to bring certain things to life.
One of the most famous examples was when Bear built a bamboo raft. He was supposed to make it all himself before showing off his creation. The reality? People say the crew actually built the raft and showed Bear what to do before it was dismantled. It was then passed off that Bear made it all himself with no help from the crew.
Man vs. Wild often employed behind the scenes survival experts
It’s not just members of the crew that helped Bear Grylls throughout his years on ‘Man vs. Wild.’ It turns out the producers also enlisted several survival experts to assist. The later-added disclaimer did confirm that the crew had help from experts, but before that was added, many had no idea that they had helping hands by their side.
While it might not have come as much of a surprise to many, it was a shock to learn how much the experts often did for Bear. One of the experts, Mark Weibert, was later asked about his time on ‘Man vs. Wild.’ He said that if people believed everything is the way it seems on TV, they are “a little bit naive.”
Bear Grylls was once stranded in Antarctica with a broken shoulder
Antarctica is no place for the weak. The frozen land is unforgiving and has claimed many lives over the years. It will take down anything in its way and has been home to some of the most resilient animals over the years. This made it the perfect place for Bear Grylls to show off his survival skills.
The TV star traveled to Antarctica in 2008 and decided to climb a 9,000-foot-high mountain on wind-powered kite skis. Unfortunately, something went wrong, and Bear fell, breaking his shoulder in the process. That was just the beginning for Bear as he soon learned that he wouldn’t be able to leave for help for days as the winds were too strong for any aircraft to land.
A crew scoped out any potential locations before filming
Making a TV show involves a lot of work, especially when it means traveling to different locations. The team working on ‘Man vs. Wild’ wanted to ensure the place was the perfect fit for the show – and that it was safe. This meant the crew would spend around a week checking out each potential location before making a new episode.
This wasn’t the only check that had to be done. The crew needed to make sure it was safe enough for Bear to perform his survival skills, that they had all the correct equipment for the job, and they could get brilliant shots across the land. The team had to have answers to any problems before they even thought about bringing Bear in.
Episodes of Man vs. Wild can take days to film
Did you know that an episode of ‘Man vs. Wild’ took between seven and ten days to film? Although we only saw Bear in the wild for a handful of days, the crew would have to brace for the elements as they spent hours on end in the wild. This could be even longer if Bear had to perform some difficult stunts or maneuvers in the episode.
It all started with the week-long scout of the location. Then, Bear was brought in for around two days of intense survival training. Outside experts offered up all their knowledge on the terrain, while local wildlife experts briefed Bear on local fauna and flora – and what to avoid. After all of this, the team could finally start filming.
Bear Grylls holds a world record for hosting the highest dinner party
There are plenty of strange world records. Not many stand up to the dangerous record Bear Grylls has to his name. In 2005, shortly before he started filming ‘Man vs. Wild,’ Bear broke the record for hoisting the highest formal open-air dinner party. We’re not sure you can call it a “party” with just a few people, but it’s not something we’ll be recreating anytime soon.
The group used a custom balloon that climbed to 24,626 feet. Once here, they climbed down onto a dining table that was suspended in the air where they ate a three-course meal. Apparently, the food went down well as everyone finished their meals before returning to Earth and claiming their brand new title.
Man vs. Wild was once the number one show in America
Many fans were devastated when ‘Man vs. Wild’ came to an end in 2011. Thankfully, they had a title to hold onto as the show was named the number one prime-time, non-sports cable show among males in the US. The top ratings also meant the Discovery Channel was the number one non-sports cable network for a time.
Celebrity guests and spin-offs saw ‘Man vs. Wild’ grow even more popular before it came crashing down. It’s reported the end of the show was all thanks to contract disputes. The Discovery Channel cut their legal relationship with Bear in 2012 and effectively ended the series. That was before Netflix picked up the TV star in 2019 for the new show ‘You vs. Wild.’
Man vs. Wild once used a crew member in a bear suit instead of a real animal
One of the most bizarre behind the scenes secrets that emerged from ‘Man vs. Wild’ was the time that one of the crew members dressed up in a bear suit to chase Bear Grylls. Yes, really. The scenes came in the very first episode of the show. The team wanted something to surprise viewers and leave them wondering if there’s anything Bear can’t escape.
The idea was simple: someone would pretend to be a bear stalking real-life Bear before he fled the camp in the middle of the night to escape the beast. It wasn’t until people eventually got their hands on a copy of the original script they learned the bear was planned – and was never a real threat.