Known best for the iconic TV series that had most people glued to the screens in the late 2010s and early 2020s, “Man vs. Wild” is definitely the most successful title Bear Grylls has ever been involved in. That chunk of fame, however, also came with considerable stress and negativity centered around some of the practices employed in creating the series.

Bear Grylls, being at the forefront of it all, had to take both the brunt of the critiques and the royal piece of the pie, but the former definitely had a greater impact, eventually running his career into a dead-end of half-realized TV projects with little to no success. Though this state of affairs may incite sympathy in some, most netizens are of the mind that the star’s downfall is well-deserved.

Who really is Bear Grylls?

The epic adventure of Edward Michael Grylls began on 7 June 1974, in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, UK. He would grow up to become a globally recognized survivalist, adventurer, author, and television host. His journey from a young boy with a passion for the outdoors to the face of survival television is an uncommon narrative that positions him among some of the most curious celebrities to date.

From an early age, Grylls exhibited an unquenchable thirst for adventure, growing up on the Isle of Wight, where he was introduced to the world of outdoor exploration by his father, Sir Michael Grylls – a former member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Young Bear’s fascination with the great outdoors was nurtured by his father’s stories of high-sea voyages, and epic sailing adventures.

Entering the force

Bear’s journey to becoming a survival expert began with his acceptance into the prestigious Eton College, an elite boarding school in England. He enlisted into the British Army’s Reserve Special Air Service (SAS) unit after completing his education, known for its rigorous training and demanding selection process. Grylls’ induction into the SAS marked the start of his training in extreme survival techniques and eventual transformation into a formidable soldier, paving the way for who he was going to become.

The year 1996 proved to be a turning point in Bear’s life, as he experienced a near-fatal parachuting accident in Zambia while training with the SAS. His parachute ripped at 16,000 feet (4,877m), sending him plummeting to the ground. Grylls broke his back in three places upon impact but miraculously survived the fall, a harrowing experience that would later serve as a selling point for the show, representing his resilience and determination.

Grylls’ passion for adventure didn’t wane after his accident, as in 1998 he embarked on a daring expedition to Mount Everest – the world’s tallest peak. As part of a British team, at the age of 23 he became one of the youngest climbers ever to reach the summit, an achievement that solidified his reputation as an adventurer, and laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Grylls’s SAS training and mountaineering experiences earned him the nickname ‘Bear’ due to his insatiable appetite for adventure. This moniker would become synonymous with courage, tenacity, and survival in the entertainment industry, and it was during his Everest expedition that the seed for his future television career was planted.

Hitting it big on television

In 2006 the world was introduced to the phenomenon that is “Man vs. Wild.” Originally entitled “Born Survivor: Bear Grylls” in the UK, the series showcased Grylls’ incredible survival skills and fearless approach to the wild. He ventured into some of the most challenging terrains on Earth, from scorching deserts to icy tundra, and shared his expertise with viewers worldwide.

What made the program unique was Grylls’s willingness to push the boundaries of survival, having demonstrated extreme tactics for finding food, water, and shelter in the harshest conditions. He also showcased how to survive encounters with wildlife, traverse treacherous landscapes, and make crucial decisions in life-or-death situations.

“Man vs. Wild” was not just about thrilling survival scenarios – it was also an educational platform through which Bear imparted seemingly invaluable survival knowledge, teaching viewers how to make fire, build shelters, and administer basic first aid. His charismatic and approachable style made these life-saving skills accessible to a broad audience, who appreciated the humility of a high-earning TV star willingly putting himself into the worst conditions on a regular basis.

A man of the people

Bear’s influence extended beyond television through the authoring of several books, including “Mud, Sweat, and Tears” from 2011, which chronicled his life experiences and provided insights into his survival philosophy. Grylls’ adventures inspired countless individuals to explore the outdoors, test their limits, and acquire essential survival skills.

He engaged in numerous philanthropic endeavors as well, including supporting charities such as Global Angels and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which encourages young people to challenge themselves through outdoor activities.

The survivalist’s contributions to adventure and survival have earned him recognition and honors over the years along with a certain notoriety. In 2009 he was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout of the Scout Association – a bow to his dedication to youth education and outdoor activities. His adventures have also been recognized with awards such as the BAFTA TV Award for “The Island with Bear Grylls” in 2015, while he also holds three Primetime Emmy nominations.

Grylls’ survival techniques faced significant criticism and controversy despite his widespread acclaim and undeniable global influence, as some critics argued that certain scenarios in “Man vs. Wild” were overly dramatized, or that he received off-camera assistance.

Bear Grylls’ adventures: What was fake?

Although it ceased airing in 2011, one can still frequently catch re-runs of “Man vs. Wild” on the Discovery Channel in the US or on the BBC in the UK. It’s likely that most have come across at least one episode over the years, and whoever may have thought that some of those scenarios seemed somewhat staged at first glance, was indeed right.

There have been allegations and confirmed instances of deception associated with the production of “Man vs. Wild” over the years, and some of these were acknowledged and apologized for by Grylls and the show’s producers. And there’s a lot to be sorry for as well, since the program is filled with inaccuracies and plain viewer manipulation.

False expertise

Despite Bear’s claims of being a survival and bushcraft expert, a closer examination reveals that he wasn’t deeply involved in the realm of either before starting his show. He only spent three years in the military as a member of the UK’s 21st SAS division, where he received training in combat survival skills, far from what avid outdoorsmen are expected to be good at.

Before making his TV debut with “Man vs. Wild” in 2006, Grylls rose to fame in his twenties through a series of widely publicized adventures and expeditions. These included climbing Mount Everest at the tender age of 23, crossing the North Atlantic in an inflatable boat, and even hosting a dinner party in a hot-air balloon soaring at 25,000 feet (7620m).

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While these adventures were undoubtedly physically demanding, they don’t necessarily qualify someone as a survival expert, especially one who takes on conditions as extreme as those showcased in the series.

A comparison of Grylls’ resume with that of fellow survival experts and television personalities Ray Mears and Les Stroud makes the contrast evident, as Mears has been teaching bushcraft skills since 1983, both to civilians and the military, and was even enlisted by UK police to track down a shooter who had sought refuge in a heavily wooded area. Stroud has also been an expert on making it through the wilderness since 1990, having educated the Canadian military in survival techniques.

Man vs. Hotel

One of the many allegations raised by critics of the show is that Bear didn’t actually remain in the wilderness during the filming of many episodes. While his program’s premise is one man facing the elements alone, in several instances, these ‘elements’ included the comfort of four walls and a roof, complete with room service.

Survival experts who worked as advisers for the show claimed that this happened multiple times, which was as baffling to them as it was to the unaware audience. Grylls reportedly enjoyed the nightly hospitality of “The Pines Resort at Bass Lake,” a modern lodge resort offering amenities like two restaurants and a spa, while ‘surviving’ in the Sierra Nevada mountains for the camera.

Don’t drink urine, or utilize faeces

The would-be wilderness expert has, on several occasions, demonstrated questionable survival techniques that aren’t practical in real-life situations. Grylls suggested during an episode set in the heat of Africa that you could extract drinkable water from elephant dung by squeezing it, which seemed ridiculous even at first glance.

The nail was hammered into the coffin by Les Stroud, an actual bushcraft instructor who also stars in the TV survival series entitled “Survivorman.” Having filmed various episodes in Africa, he debunked the supposed technique by stating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) that it’s impossible to obtain drinkable water from elephant dung unless your cameraman soaked it with bottled water.

Some of the techniques casually showcased by Grylls on television can, in fact, exacerbate the viewer’s, potential survivors’ situation or put them at risk. One example is the infamous own urine-consuming incident, which is a ludicrous idea that can lead to poisoning and severe illness. Another two common and potentially perilous methods that Grylls often advocated or demonstrated in the show involve rushing through hazardous terrain and becoming unnecessarily wet.

It’s clear to those familiar with the show that the TV star rarely walked, especially in mountainous regions. He instead sprinted, leaped, jumped, and swung his way down cliffs, mountainsides, and crevices. On one occasion, Grylls even used a long tree branch as a makeshift pole vault, descending several hundred feet of rocky terrain.

In a true survival scenario, any injury, even just a broken ankle far from any assistance, can significantly reduce one’s chances of survival. It’s advisable to take the time to scout the area and identify the safest route to lower ground when dealing with challenging terrain, even if it means a longer journey, as being alive and uninjured is well-worth the additional time.

He is sorry, though

Bear Grylls is probably one of the most apologetic celebrities on the face of the planet, for all the wrong reasons. Probably his most ridiculous apology was given over looking cheerful at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II of house Windsor in September 2022. He had been photographed waving towards the camera with a careless smile on his face that day, which upset many of his fellow countrymen.

Grylls was quick to point out that he was saluting a friend – a cameraman who worked with him on various projects, who took a picture of him just as he was arriving. The reason that Grylls was even there is somewhat mind-boggling, since he came to represent the so-called Scout Association, formerly patronaged by her late majesty.

That’s not all, though, as Grylls is one of the few recipients of an Order of the British Empire (OBE) award, bestowed by the monarch, and one of the higher possible recognitions a UK citizen could hope for. Knowing how false a lot of his claims on the screen were, it’s understandable that most people are irritated at the idea that someone could spend their life lying on television, get a most prestigious award possible for it, and then walk around smiling ear-to-ear at the funeral of the monarch who gave them it.

My bad for eating plants

Grylls seems to be a man of extremes, and that simply has to be the case in almost everything he does, such as the time when he was the staunchest vegan on the planet, and then began eating almost exclusively meat, with veggies banned in his diet. This turnaround came about due to a multitude of factors, shocking most of the audiences and media outlets.

He spoke to the Daily Mail in May 2023, explaining that he’s sorry for misleading a great portion of the audience into thinking that it’s better for one not to eat meat or anything that came from animals, which is in stark contrast to what one pretty much needs to do in survival mode. This is not to say that Grylls’ diet potentially endangered those following his advice, but it was just another mistake on top of everything else.

Instead of staying in the middle of the argument and agreeing that both animal and vegan products can have their benefits in moderation, Bear just went from one extreme to another, telling the news agency that he has never felt better eating almost exclusively meat and eggs. Experts warn against either end of the spectrum, as both can seriously impact anyone’s health.

Sorry for scamming you

Perhaps the most telling apology was issued by Grylls in March 2008, which most would call a time way before worldwide fame. It was the first time he admitted to not having done absolutely everything that was stated on the TV screen, as told by a BBC article. The crew apparently didn’t sleep out in the wild as the audience expected them to, which instantly made them frauds.

The main star of the show apologized for this inconsistency, and promised that the following seasons would all be 100% transparent, with no such dishonesty taking place behind the camera ever again. Many years down the line, it’s evident that Grylls lied yet again, but he will probably never apologize for that.

So, what is Bear Grylls’ net worth?

It’s undoubtable that Bear has managed to accumulate an extravagant amount of money from all the efforts he’s made in the entertainment industry over the years, having authored 15 books and appeared in more than 100 titles.

Some of the most reputable media sources estimate his total wealth at $25 million. A large contribution to that sum is beyond doubt Bear’s private island somewhere off the coast of Wales, UK. It’s over 20 acres, with its wilderness mostly intact, as there’s no running water or even electricity. The only real estate on it are a lighthouse and a small home next to it, as far as the latest information has revealed.

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