Most people know Bear Grylls as the survival expert from the popular hit show Man Vs. Wild. That show went a long way toward establishing Bear as the most popular and well-known survival expert in the entire world. Here are some little-known facts you may be surprised about regarding Bear Grylls!
Not Just Man Vs. Wild
Although Bear Grylls is primarily known for his time on the show Man Vs. Wild, that is far from his only television appearance. He has also been on shows that include The Island, Mission: Survive, Discovery Channel’s Escape From Hell, Get Out Alive, and Running Wild With Bear Grylls.
Brush With Death
Surprisingly, Bear Grylls’ closest brush with death came long before his days as a household name. Instead, it happened when he was serving with the SAS, UK Special Forces. During a skydiving exercise, Bear’s parachute ripped, causing him to plummet toward the ground at high speeds. He crushed three vertebrae.
Most people would never be the same after crushing three vertebrae. Some would recover, but not for a year or more. For Bear Grylls, it took just eight months until he was fully recovered and climbing Mount Everest. That kind of climb is a dangerous task in and of itself!
Bear Grylls became embroiled in a little controversy in 2007 when it became known that at times, he received aid from crews on his television show and he had even been put up in hotel rooms with his crew from time to time. The show began airing a disclaimer that pointed out that the crew sometimes received support as mandated by health and safety regulations.
Not a Picky Eater
No one would ever confuse Bear Grylls with being a picky eater. Not only has he sometimes drank his own urine on his TV shows to stave off thirst, but he has also eaten a lot of pretty disgusting foods, including the hearts of dead animals. Bear is clearly all about survival, not taste or comfort.
Like Father, Like Son
At just seven years old, Bear Grylls’ son Jesse had already created a reputation for himself as quite an adventurer. One day, Bears’ son was hanging out near a stream when a friend fell in and began drowning. His son jumped in and saved him. Bear is married with two kids, and his family is quite important to him.
Now That’s Improvising
We all know that in the wild, it’s sometimes necessary to improvise. But not since Han Solo put Luke Skywalker inside a tauntaun’s body in The Empire Strikes Back have we seen such a creative use of an animal’s body as what Bear did. He actually used a dead sheep’s corpse as a flotation device once, which allowed him to safely float downstream.
Not Scared to Get Hurt
Although Bear’s crew is always ready to administer life-saving support, a certain amount of injuries will always come with the job when he’s working on a show. Over the years, he has dislocated his hip, broken bones, smashed his knee cartilage, sliced his finger, crushed his shoulder and been bitten by every type of animal imaginable.
Taking the Top Spot
In 2006, Bear Grylls took the U.S. by storm with his show, Man Vs. Wild. The show was a hit right away, capturing the imaginations of viewers everywhere. Eventually, the show would take the top spot in the cable TV ratings and reach over 1.2 billion viewers across over 200 countries.
Surviving With The Stars
Bear Grylls has left no stone unturned when it comes to survival reality series. One of his most recent ideas was “Bear Grylls: Mission Survive.” The reality series features 8 celebrities who go on a 12-day survival mission. Each celebrity would have to endure what every survivalist might encounter (such as eating bugs and drinking urine). Bear would slowly eliminate the worst survivalist. The first season took place in 2015 and was unexpectedly won by model and TV presenter Vogue Williams.
As mentioned earlier, Bear Grylls took part in the military when he was a younger man. He was a reservist in the 21 SAS Regiment for three years, from 1994 to 1997. This means Bear was part of the UK special forces, which is a highly respected military organization. It was there that Bear started to become a survival expert.
Nature is a Smorgasbord
For Bear Grylls, being a survivalist is all about adapting and overcoming the odds, and that frequently means eating whatever is around. For the sake of his viewers over the years, Bear has eaten some really disgusting stuff, including giant live spiders, a live snake, huge maggots, raw goat testicles, and frozen yak eyeballs.
Dining in Luxury
Although Bear Grylls is willing to eat anything, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like to enjoy the finer things. In one particular case, he had a formal dinner…7,600 feet in the air! He did it while suspended from a hot air balloon, which was enough to get him in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Bear’s Real Name
It should come as no surprise that “Bear” was not Mr. Grylls’ real name. Instead, he was born Edward Michael Grylls. However, his sister called him “Bear” as a baby, and the nickname stuck. It always seemed like an appropriate moniker for him, however. Perhaps she was foreshadowing his future career when she choose the nickname?
Bear Grylls saw an opportunity to share his knowledge through books and has published a dozen books over the years about survival techniques and tips for various survival scenarios. Meanwhile, he has written fourteen fiction books as part of a series titled Mission: Survival.
Lethal Hands and Feet
It doesn’t seem all that surprising that someone who was formerly in the British SAS knows how to defend himself pretty well. Bear Grylls has dabbled in the martial arts and once upon a time; he even earned a second dan black belt in Shotokan karate. Bear is truly prepared for anything.
Even as a younger man, Bear Grylls was not going to let any challenge get the best of him. He proved this when he became the youngest person from England to climb Mount Ama Dablam, a mountain in the Himalayas that was once considered to be “unclimbable.”
Quite a Strange Stunt
Some of Bear Grylls’ stunts over the years have made a little less sense than others. One such case was when Bear once got into a bathtub naked and used it to row down the Thames River. However, it wasn’t as random as it seemed: Bear was doing it for charity to raise money for someone who lost his legs in an accident.
It may be surprising for someone with a rugged reputation, but Bear Grylls’ first appearance on TV had nothing to do with being a survivalist. Instead, it was when he appeared in a deodorant commercial for Sure. The commercial showed him battling body odor as he climbed Mount Everest.
Youngest Chief Scout
When he reached the age of 34 years, Bear Grylls earned yet another honor: he became the youngest Chief Scout ever. The Chief Scout is the head of the Scout Association, so it’s a very prestigious title to hold. Bear still serves as the Chief Scout to this very day.
The Next Chapter
The most recent chapter to Bear Grylls’ long career as a survival expert on television has been Running Wild, a new show on NBC. On the show, Bear is paired with various celebrities, who are tasked with surviving in harsh conditions for 48 hours in remote locations all over the world. In season two, he’ll be paired with Ed Helms, Kate Winslet, and other stars.