Man vs. Wild vs. Hotel Room

I know it should come as no surprise to learn that a reality TV show has been faked, but it still kind of sucks to hear this about Born Survivor (aired in America on the Discovery Channel as Man vs. Wild), since I've watched quite a few episodes of this show and enjoyed it.

The premise of the show is that Bear Grylls, a former soldier with the UK Special Forces, is dropped into various extreme situations (on top of a mountain, on a desert island, etc.) and has to survive on his own until he gets rescued. Obviously there's a camera crew with him constantly, so he's never in that much danger. Still, learning that he sometimes would surreptitiously check into hotel rooms overnight kind of ruins the effect.

From the BBC:
A crew member told the Sunday Times some nights were spent in hotels... American survival consultant Mark Weinert, who was recruited by Diverse Productions, told the paper Grylls claimed to be stranded on a desert island on one occasion. However, he was actually in Hawaii and spent some of his time there in a motel, Mr Weinert alleged. Another time, he added, Grylls was filmed building a raft by himself, whereas the crew had actually put it together and dismantled it beforehand, to ensure that it worked. And in a further episode, supposedly "wild" horses rounded up by Grylls had come from a local trekking facility, he claimed.


Posted on Mon Jul 23, 2007


"Grylls claimed to be stranded on a desert island on one occasion. However, he [...] spent some of his time there in a motel."

If it was a Super 8 motel, then he's a lot tougher than I gave him credit for!
Posted by David B.  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  10:56 AM
I expected some of it to be fake... entertainment that's all.
Posted by ting.gong  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  11:23 AM
Learning this makes the show seem more lame. I already felt he did things on the show that he wouldn't do if he was actually alone. Having a camera crew for backup allows him to take extra risks, like jumping into freezing pools.

The crew following him made me wonder about his frequent climbing down cliffs. The crew obviously has to get to the bottom as well, so there must be an easier trail.

I much prefer watching Survivorman, with Les Stroud. He has no crew, he films everything himself. He doesn't portray survival as an adventure, it's a struggle and is often unpleasant.
Posted by Robert D  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  12:00 PM
I figured much of it to be faked simply because he has a fricken camera crew with him. Many of the camera shots are pretty unrealistic for him to be completely acting on his own wits. For example, on many occasions they'll show him climbing down the wall of a steep ravine and there'll be a camera below him already filming. How'd he get down there?

For me at least, I think the hardest part of surviving on your own would be the constant loneliness. He at least has a film crew along with him to BS about things.
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  02:54 PM
+1 for Survivorman. Unfortunately, Les used most of the good ideas in the first season.
Posted by ktownson  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  03:01 PM
I like Man Vs. Wild...but I also assumed there was some sort of "fakeness" to bits b/c he DID have the camera crew. Obviously with audio & visual guys around..they need someplace to sleep, eat, &...ya know.

I still think some of the ideas are good ones. I especially liked the bit where he got naked after "falling" into an icey river. 😉

Obviously, things like that were staged somewhat, he didn't actually fall, you saw him jump in, then he took his time to explain the best way to get out & the best way to get warm after.

A lot of his "tips" can still be used in extreme situations. I liked the bit about finding the zebra carcass. To determine how old it was & if it was safe to eat. Although, I probably would have harvested a bit & then cooked it. I'd never have eaten it raw!
Posted by Maegan  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  04:00 PM
I was just looking around for proof of this on the internet the other day. They had many episodes on and I was noticing some things seemed... off. Like others, I know he would definately not do many of the things he does on the show if he were actually stranded (i.e. climbing gigantic trees to get a better view or drinking untreated water). The most I could find was someone that was claiming they contacted him when in Australia for permission to use a roadkill Kangaroo to make it seem as though he had killed it. Otherwise, I found many suspicious of his claim. And I wholeheartedly agree that Survivorman is better, if not only for being more entertaining. Still, it's just a little disappointing to hear this claim (even if I had already suspected as much).
Posted by Archibold  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  07:43 PM
I've had my suspicions about Man Vs. Wild since I saw an episode a few months ago in which there was an infrared "nightshot" that looked to me as if it was actually a daylight shot with a "nightshot" effect imposed on it.

The sky just didn't look like the real nightshots I've seen in the past. The starfield has an appearance in a nightshot that I wasn't seeing in the Man Vs. Wild show.

I annoy my family endlessly by pointing out stuff like that.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  07:48 PM
The only thing I've ever seen on Survivorman that seemed a bit "off" to me was one episode in which Les used the parts from a "spare" video camera to make survival implements.

He often talks about how heavy his gear is (and I have no doubt about that) so it seemed curious that he would have an extra camera. My guess is that they anticipated what he would want to make and included a broken camera to give him the parts he needed.

It isn't "cheating" exactly, but it does suggest that not everything he does is thought up on the fly.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  07:51 PM
Cranky Media Guy: I'm not sure specifically which episode you are referring to, although I wouldn't be surprised if that is what happened. They often give him things your average traveller would have and possibly be stranded with. In other episodes, he's had broken a broken down dirtbike, snowmobile, and bicycle to name a few. He's utilised all the parts of those to the fullest to help him in his survival. Perhaps it was an object they figured someone stranded may have. On the other hand, maybe it was just a second camera he had for filming and felt wasn't necessary.

Either way, I'm confident there was no deception on Les' part.
Posted by Archibold  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  11:42 PM
If you have ever been on a documentary, then you would appreciate how contrived television is. Has it not ever occured to you that when a family are "surprise" visited, they're already wearing mics! I recently took part in a documentary and not only did the crew turn up and mic up everyone involved, they then proceeded to leave the house, to return as though they hadn't been there yet. Then during conversations, they would stop, change angle and ask us to restart the conversation from a certain point.

Regarding "Born Survivor" I don't think it's a big surprise that some scenes are staged, if it was billed as a one man survival, it might be different, but the purpose of the show is to show you various survival techniques.
Posted by mr royale  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  07:02 AM
I think Grylls talked about drinking untreated water. He said normally he wouldn't have done that, but b/c the water was moving so quickly, he thought it would be okay...but that it did make him very sick later.

Any time I've seen him gather water, he always intends to boil it later.
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  07:26 AM
The funny thing is that I am not surprised in the SLIGHTEST. My mother and I watched one episode that was supposed to be about somewhere in the Amazon or something, and she and I were about dying with laughter.

The show is so overacted that, I'm sorry, but anyone who knows anything about the outside world should know. He's all like "This is hard hard work, blahblahblah" and my mom and I would just start laughing, because we've done similar ourselves... without any sort of aid.

Plus, you know, he would do things that anyone out in the wild wouldn't do, because he was trying to pick up viewer interest.
Such as one time where he decided some river was too dangerous out in the amazon, I think, so he decided TO TREK THROUGH PARTIALLY SUBMERGED TREE ROOTS! He ended up turning around, anyway, but... honestly, if you have a working raft, you're MUCH safer out in the water than in a (most most most likely) snake and bug and everything infested area. Besides, I would much rather deal with freshwater stingray, electric eels, and the (overly exaggerated in danger) piranha than deal with various poisonous snakes and bugs that are almost sure to inhabit the tangled roots.

Eh, the show was actually so stupidly fake, my family couldn't watch more than one episode. WHen we saw the advertisement for that desert island one you spoke about, too, we actually laughed about how much it looked like the dry side of Hawaii.

We just assumed the show was made for people who have never set foot outside, and so think all of nature is about 2938479238742 times more dangerous than it is xD (truthfully, this incorporates everyone except perhaps like... three people I've met out in California thus far... I can only name one person who knows survival-style camping techniques, and unlike Mr. Survivor man, this guy, if faced with anything potentially dangerous, would probably just pull out a gun and shoot it. You don't care about saving the wildlife if you're actually IN any danger).
Posted by Mera  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  12:12 PM
"Cranky Media Guy: I'm not sure specifically which episode you are referring to, although I wouldn't be surprised if that is what happened. They often give him things your average traveller would have and possibly be stranded with."

Good point. You're right that they say that he has things with him that they assume a typical traveler might have.

"Perhaps it was an object they figured someone stranded may have. On the other hand, maybe it was just a second camera he had for filming and felt wasn't necessary.

"Either way, I'm confident there was no deception on Les' part."

Oh, I was alleging deception on his part. I just thought that perhaps they had given him a camera that they didn't really expect him to use AS a camera, which would imply pre-planning about the situation where Les implies that he's dealing with things as they happen, without such pre-planning.

Either way, it's a minor point and I wouldn't call it "deceptive" if it IS true (and I'm far from certain that it is).
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  07:49 PM
That should say, "I WASN'T alleging deception on his part."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  07:52 PM
So some of it - and let me emphasize "SOME" - is faked. Oh well, who cares? The show is entertaining. Plus there's no faking eating giant spiders or drinking out of a mud puddle...
Posted by Bill  on  Wed Jul 25, 2007  at  11:29 AM
Do a search and you'll quickly find out how fake this guy is. Ads first said "SAS Trained". Now say "trained WITH the SAS". Had a "documentary" about joining the French Foreign Legion. Changed to "trained with" when it was revealed the instructors were retired, the camp was fake, and it was all staged. A lot of what he does is flat out WRONG and would get you killed if you tried it. In some scenes, you can spot a climbing harness under his clothes. FAKE as you can get.
Posted by WileECoyote  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  12:46 PM
First: Duh!

Second: I'm quite sure Survivorman is essentially fake as well in the same way illusions are fake. Yes, he does the trick, but only after much preparation and planning for a specific episode AND a way to get out if things get too rough.

(What cracks me up about all reality television is that we believe any of the participants when they make claims. Even if a given frame of video captures something genuine, the entire thing is edited. I don't know why participants so often complain that the producers twisted the shows to the opposite of what actually happened.)
Posted by Joe  on  Mon Jul 30, 2007  at  02:05 PM
i;d like to say all of these comments are in teresting,, and highly observant {audience} i think les and bear are both doing a terrific job at letting us {the audience} absorb as much survival tips as we can.. Providing these series continue which i hope they do,,,, i am sure at some point we will hear from survivors of an incident lost,,, stranded etc that use these mens techniques to actually make it out alive... Les,, Bear KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK Gentlemen Dave From newhampshire
Posted by David M  on  Wed Aug 08, 2007  at  05:42 PM
What about the episode where he was in the desert and had to swim under that log\brush jam he came to in the river.
He had to make two attempts at it and barely made it, how did the camera guy get under that with all the gear?

Then what about in the same episode he did the 'chimney climb' up the canyon, again how did he get his camera crew and all their gear up there. He barely made it.
And yea, his crew has to eat and drink, do they suffer with him and eat maggots and drink Gryll's piss???
Posted by JoeyJoJo  on  Wed Aug 15, 2007  at  11:34 PM
Thought I might add this to the list. Blatantly staged scene, Ooooo, the danger 😉

I love how they show the "crevasse" from another angle and then pan over to the traffic right beside it.
Posted by Transfrmr  on  Thu Aug 16, 2007  at  06:58 PM
I wondered why Grylls was drinking his own urine on one show while Stroud said on his show that it would "over-toxify" the blood and cause death, using a makeshift still to get water out of his own urine.

Kinda important difference of opinion there.
Posted by Zinc  on  Sat Sep 01, 2007  at  04:02 PM
Do you know what kills me about all you skeptics? you cannot appreciate the advice he gives to people in survival situations. Just because he himself might not actually go through the exact same things, does not mean that he doesnt know what he is talking about. the man has a family and kids. I am sure he goes home everynight only to hear from his wife that his job is too dangerous. next you are going to tell me that the crocidile hunter was a fake also right? even though the guy died on the job. why dont you just except the fact that bear has great knowledge of survival. i dought you even know how to jump out of an airplane or chopper as he does regardless of where he lands and what he actually does off camera. why dont you just get a life and stop watching the show. here is a better idea, why dont you camp out in your backyard and film it, then you can go onto the discovery channel and tell everyone about how great you are surviving in the wild. you can have your mommy bring you milk and cookies and tell you a ghost story around the camp fire. you really need to just let it go. and by the way, if you are going to quote what someone said to a news reporter, include your source and a link that way we all know you are not full of crap. dickhead
Posted by James  on  Fri Mar 21, 2008  at  05:58 PM
Both "Man Vs Wild" and "Survivor Man" are obviously both still have somewhat of a script. Not as a script in what to say but a script as in what they are gong to do, make, etc. Personally I liked "Man Vs Wild" better even if things did seem alittle suspicious and out of place with the camera crew, etc. But still his tips were very useful and the show was just better. "Survivor Man" however seems alittle stage played to me. In some episodes you can completly tell that the background wasn't real because he would be much larger compared to the background. But still they are both good shows, would rather watch Bear though.
Posted by SteezyCC  on  Thu Jul 02, 2009  at  09:04 PM
i like ur program ,so much 100 frnd like
Posted by aniket  on  Sat Jan 29, 2011  at  12:47 AM
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