Monday, May 19, 2008

Steakhouse Gryll

Bear GryllsQuite by chance this month I’ve caught a couple of episodes of “Born Survivor” presented by Mr Nice Tough Guy, Bear Grylls. Yes. That’s his real name.

I’m hoping he has a kid brother called Radiator.

The premise is very simple. Bear Grylls, all round daredevil, adventurer, survivalist and, let’s not forget it, nice guy, is catapulted each week into some of the world worst hellholes there to survive on nothing but his wits and the Winnebago full of food that the film crew have brought along with them.

He’s yomped across desert, jungle and rough council estates; he’s captured and eaten raw lizards, scorpions, beetle larvae and KFC bargain buckets; he’s been up to his hips in quick sand, white water rapids and peat bogs... and last night saw him roughing it in the mountainous ice fields of Patagonia.

It was sterling stuff and no mistake. He dug an ice cave with his “bear” hands, urinated into his drink flask and used it as a hot water bottle, rapelled down a 150ft waterfall... all the while telling us what we should and shouldn’t do in these circumstances; leaving us in no doubt as to the amount of danger and peril that he was constantly in on our behalf.

And through it all I couldn’t help thinking: Ray Mears wouldn’t have done that; Ray Mears would have found a better way; Ray wouldn’t have taken such stupid risks in the first place...

Ray Mears you see is untouchable in the art of bush craft survival. Many try to encroach upon his domain but few can ever match him. I’m sure Mr Grylls’ survivalist credentials are absolutely impeccable but, unlike Ray’s programmes, there’s something just too unreal and contrived about Bear Grylls’ gritty offerings.

Suspended half way down a narrow glacial crevasse he shuddered at how far down he was, how terrifying it was to be stuck this far down a sheer ice wall... but my first thought was that the camera man was actually filming him from below and didn’t appear to be suffering from camera-shake at all. A little later he tried to build a raft out of drift wood to cross an ice cold lake... a few feet out it began to disintegrate and Bear had to bare his torso and swim back to shore before he lost all circulation in his feet and legs...

Gasp shock horror. Would he make it? Sadly, yes.

Now if that had been Ray he’d have chopped down a tree, hollowed out a canoe with his bush knife and woven a fully functional outboard motor out of nettle stems and crossed to the other side of the lake within the space of three hours with enough daylight left to shoot a moose with his homemade bow and arrow and have its kidney frying on a hot rock ready for the after filming party.

And Ray would have spent the entire night in his homemade camp with only his homemade campfire and his hand whittled camp equipment for company and nobody would have doubted it in the slightest. I can’t say the same for Bear. There are loads of reports that he frequently “roughed” it in hotels and glamorous Jacuzzis once the day’s filming was done.

Fair enough you might think. But to me it’s cheating. Don’t attempt to seize the mantle of hard-man wilderness survivor if you’re not prepared to sleep with the leeches and the tarantulas!

Bear, Ray would eat you for bloody breakfast.

21 comments:

The Poet Laura-eate said...

As Harry Hills would say 'But who is the best, Ray Mears or Bear Grylls? Only one way to find out - FIGHT!!!!'

I look forward to seeing what they'd make of each other - campfires probably.

Steve said...

The thought of them both rubbing their legs together to make a spark jump into a little pile of tinder is not a particularly appetizing thought...!

TimeWarden said...

He's, obviously, traversed a lot of difficult-to-reach places purely for our televisual entertainment...

He's gone without proper nourishment in order to captivate the nation...

He's even educated us in the pitfalls of water sports...

But... is he as nice as Michael Palin?!!

The Sagittarian said...

Wow, can anyone join this party?
Haven't see nt he programme but it seems a tad "Boys Own Annual" so that means I probably wouldn't watch it. Mind you, my idea of adventure is putting the toilet seat back up....

Steve said...

TimeWarden, nobody is as nice as Michael Palin. Except maybe Ray Mears.

Toilet seats are dangerous places, Amanda... the scene of many a relationship break-up. We'd better send Bear Gryll's onto this one ASAP... only he can handle it!

The Sagittarian said...

Make him flushed with success eh Steve?

Steve said...

I'd like to see him strap a few more logs together to make another raft, Amanda... ;-)

lucyfishwife said...

His brother's actually called Mixt. I ran the travel wwriting section in a Large Chain Bookstore and we found that if you put his books face out you could sell shedloads because he's so photogenic..

Steve said...

Ha ha, Mixt indeed! Thanks for stopping by lucyfishwife... I must admit for an ex SAS guy he is surprisingly softly spoken with pretty boy looks. Not your average Ross Kemp kind of guy at all. He doesn't float my boat (or indeed his own raft) but I can see that others might view him as eye-candy. I'll stick with Ray and his pasty white knobbly knees though... he's a man's man.

Reluctant Blogger said...

He can't really be called that surely???? He is rather attractive to look at though.

I'm not really into all this survival stuff though - far too much of a girl.

I did catch some programme the other day though about people with disabilities on some trek or other. That was rather enthralling and inspiring.

Steve said...

Hi Gina, apparently that is his real name. I do seriously wonder whether he has animal named siblings... Elk, Wolverine and Sheep perhaps?

I saw the trailer for the disabled trek / expedition and just thought it looked too fraught and full or screaming, angry, worthy people for me to be able to cope with it so I watched a DVD of Jeeves & Wooster instead. I don't do worthy. I do calm.

Tristan said...

I'm definitely excited by the prospect of a Grylls/Mears 'survive off'! Of course Ray would cope with both starvation and cold by using up his copious fat reserves, which gives him a definite edge...

Steve said...

A "definite edge", or a slightly podgy, well rounded edge...? Especially around the nether-gut region. But as you rightly point out, Ray's extra fat reserves are in themselves a carefully maintained survival tool. However, given Bear Gryll's culinary antics he'd be liable to eat Ray with a side-order of cockroaches...

The Sagittarian said...

According to that fountain of all knowledge (Wikipedia) his real name is "Edward". He also looks rather like an American we had stay with us once...shudder!

Brother Tobias said...

I'd read somewhere he was Edward too. As in Edward - Teddy - Bear. If he ever goes on the after-dinner speaker circuit, he could call his act 'Grylls Aloud'.

Steve said...

Indeed, Brother Tobias, I'm sure he's a great advocate of Gryll Power...!

Rol said...

Is that the same Ray Mears who's currently starring in an advert for the Post Office with Bungel from Rainbow?

Sorry.

Steve said...

What is this advert of which you speak, Rol? I must admit I haven't seen it and Google has let me down. Is it really Ray Mears? Or someone slighly overweight who looks like him? I can't believe Ray would hang up his bush knife just to sell a few stamps. Tell me it isn't so.

Rol said...

It was playing on a loop in the local post office yesterday - I've not seen it on TV yet. It's one of those ads starring the fat Northern bloke who used to be in the cop series on BBC2 (there's another one on TV featuring Keith Harris & Orville). I wouldn't have known it was Ray Mears but for the caption saying "LOOK OUT FOR RAY MEARS IN OUR NEW ADVERT".

Maybe it's not shown on TV yet.

Steve said...

Thanks for the extra info, Rol. I wonder if it's too late to swap my allegience to Bear?

Janete Cabral said...

Hey Steve !

How are you? I have actually been following the Alaska weekend on discovery and Born Survivor series. It appealed to me after reading "Into the wild" by Jon Krakauer. I have seen the film of the same name of course.

The photography is amazing and the challenge they put themselves through. Sometimes I have to look away when Bear Gryll is eating raw animals...despite his soft tone and looks lol

Great post as always. I am sure it is not too late to change allegience...lol