Bear Grylls has taught us all how to survive in the harshest of environments since he first began presenting TV programs back in 2004. The Ex-Special forces tough guy has done things that even the most determined of us would shy away from. With his range of specialist knowledge and survival techniques, Bear brings a unique blend of well-mannered charm, and occasionally completely gross-out survival techniques to our screens, and along the way he has become internationally famous for some of the most entertaining and unforgettable moments in television history. But what is the TV star and survival expert doing now in 2018? And who is he teaching to survive in the toughest of situations? Sharpen your knife and tighten up the laces on your toughest pair of hiking boots as we find out.
Bear Grylls’ Early Life and Military Service
Bear was born as Edward Michael Grylls in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland on June 7th 1974. Perhaps there was a clue to his tough and rugged nature even back then, as his sister Laura, eight years old at the time, nicknamed him Bear when she visited the hospital the day after he was born, and the name stuck. Bear was born into a distinguished family, his father was politician Sir Michael Grylls and his mother was Lady Grylls, the daughter of Northern Irelands first female Member of the British Parliament. The family moved to the South of England when Bear was aged four and he later attended the exclusive private school Eton College, where he founded the institutions first mountaineering club, before he went on to the University of West of England and obtained a degree in Hispanic Studies.
It’s little surprise that Bear was interested in vigorous outdoor-type activities from an early age. He spent time sailing and climbing with his father, and during his teenage years he learned to skydive and began practising Karate, in which he eventually gained a second dan black belt. After leaving school he spent some time hiking in the Himalayan mountains before he joined the British Army, eventually serving with the elite British special Forces unit, the SAS, for three years.
Bear Grylls’ Early Adventures and Climbing Mount Everest
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche told us that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is undoubtedly true in the case of Bear Grylls. In 1996 his parachute malfunctioned in Zambia, and he plummeted to the ground at sickening speed. The accident broke three of his vertebrae and he spent several months recovering from his injuries, but just eighteen months later he picked himself up and went on one of his most hazardous adventures to date, by attempting to climb Mount Everest. Reaching the summit of Everest had been a childhood dream of Bear’s, and in May 1998 he finally achieved the feat, at the age of just 23 he was one of the youngest people to have reached the top of the World at the time.
In 2000 Bear married long-time girlfriend Shara Knight, but he didn’t let his new found marital bliss temper his adventurous nature, instead embarking later that year on a new adventure by circumnavigating the UK on jet skis to raise money for a lifeboat charity. Bear later described the experience as fun ‘for about twenty minutes’, after which he realized that the huge waves around the British coastline were perhaps more formidable than even he had imagined. Bear finished off the year with another stunt for a good cause, this time rowing naked up a river for twenty miles to raise money for a friend who had lost his legs in a climbing accident.
In 2003 Bear’s first child was on the way, but he wasn’t going to let upcoming fatherhood slow him down either, instead he led a team of five, including his friend and former SAS colleague, Mick Crosthwaite who had also accompanied him to the top of Everest, to embark on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in a small inflatable boat. After battling gale force winds and avoiding icebergs at night they finally arrived in Scotland after a 3,500 mile journey from Nova Scotia, Canada which lasted a gruelling 15 days. By now Bear’s accomplishments had attracted the attentions of an advertising agency, who used him in a Sure deodorant advert to personify the manly demographic they were hoping to attract, but 2005 saw him grace our screens as a presenter for the first time.
Bear Grylls’ Rise To Television Fame
‘Escape to the Legion’ was a four part reality TV show made for British TV that followed Bear and eleven others as they attempted to complete the difficult and challenging basic training of the French Foreign Legion in the harsh Sahara desert. The show was later screened on the Military Channel in the US and Bear’s naturally engaging personality soon saw him signed up for another longer-running show. The Discovery network signed Bear for a reality style TV show called ‘Man Vs Wild’, that would showcase his survival skills while stranded alone in the wild. The show took place in a variety of hostile environments, typically jungles, deserts and forests, and usually featured Bear building a survival shelter of some kind and existing purely on naturally occurring resources. The show was a big success around the World and eventually ran for seven seasons until 2011, with occasional specials seeing Bear joined by celebrities such as Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller.
‘Man vs Wild’ attracted some controversy in the press when it was revealed that some scenes were misleading, with Bear not actually left alone in the wild at night. One comical incident that occurred was a scene where a crew member dressed up in a bear suit to ‘simulate’ a bear attack as the production company had been unable to find a tame bear, but Bear defended the show, pointing out that it was not a documentary, but instead more of an instruction manual that could show viewers how they would be able to survive in similar situations. Eventually Discovery edited out some of the more staged scenes and included a disclaimer making it clear that some scenes were edited for entertainment value rather than a true representation of events, but even with that in mind they insisted that Bear performed all his own stunts and did experience very real danger during some scenes. Eventually in 2012, the show was cancelled due to contractual disputes between Bear and the Discovery Channel, and the survival expert was free to embark on a new project.
Bear Grylls is a man of action no doubt, but he’s also a fairly prolific author. His first book ‘Facing Up’, known as ‘The Kid Who Climbed Everest’ in the United States, was published in 2000 and detailed his journey to the summit of Everest and the hurdles he had to overcome to achieve the feat. In the following decade he published a further five books, all along survival themes and all of which met with good reviews for their well-written prose and informative nature, but in 2011 he revealed much more about his childhood and adventurous life than ever before in his best selling autobiography ‘Mud, Sweat and Tears’ which was widely well-received by critics.
In 2013 Bear starred in a reality TV show ‘Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls’ which featured competitors battling the rugged elements in New Zealand and which was later screened by NBC. He also appeared in several TV specials featuring celebrities in the UK and ‘Escape From Hell’, where he told the stories of people who had been forced to battle for survival in extreme situations, but in 2015 he began presenting ‘The Island With Bear Grylls’, a reality show that features people testing their survival abilities when stranded on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. The show has now run for four seasons, with several other celebrity specials being screened alongside it.
What’s Bear Grylls Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Now in 2018, Bear Grylls is 42 years old, and with three young sons to think about he has avoided the more extreme and dangerous expeditions that he would not think twice about embarking on during his younger days, but Bear is still as active as he has always been, even if he takes things a little easier these days. His TV career is phenomenally active. The fourth season of ‘The Island’ is currently being shown on TV and further celebrity specials of the show are planned for later in the year. He has worked on a reality adventure show in China called ‘Survivor Games’ where he puts Chinese celebrities through the kind of tough survival challenges that Western celebrities know only too well. He has worked with numerous celebrities on ‘Running Wild With Bear Grylls’ which has seen him take celebrities such as Zac Efron, Kate Winslet and Tom Arnold on two-day trips into the wilderness, one episode even featured such an esteemed guest as Barack Obama, while he was still the President, a hefty indication of Bear’s appeal and influence in the entertainment industry. The President was concerned what Bear might be offering for lunch that day, but was relieved when a freshly caught salmon turned out to be on the menu.
It’s becoming clear that Bear probably sleeps very little at night, his literary efforts since the publication of ‘Mud, Sweat and Tears’ have been extensive. He has published eleven non-fiction books based around survivalist themes in the last five years, including four in 2016 alone. Somehow in the same year he found time to publish a series of four children’s adventure books collectively known as the ‘Mission Survival’ series. We’re not even halfway into 2017 yet but Bear has so far this year published two children’s adventure books, ‘Blizzard Challenge’ and ‘Desert Challenge’, and it’s a good job that he’s so resistant to pain and suffering because his frequent articles for GQ magazine indicate strongly to me that the man must have some heavy calluses on his fingertips by now. Bear seems to be the kind of prolific author that will be producing many books in the coming years, which no doubt will be good news for his growing audience of young readers. His children’s books have been compared to the classic children’s adventure stories that generations past loved and bought in the millions, but with the unique twist that Bear really does know exactly what those adventures are like to experience for yourself.
Bear has led the fullest of lives, so much so in fact that there isn’t enough time to mention all of his feats. His expedition through the infamous Northwest passage in 2010 and his record breaking high altitude para-glider flight over the Himalayas in 2007 being just two examples I’ve neglected to mention. But these adventures, like all of his others, had one thing in common, they were all undertaken to benefit a worthy cause. Bear Grylls has worked extensively to raise money for children’s charities, causes that assist veterans of the armed forces and their families, and many of his excursions have had environmental causes as a beneficiary. He appeared on TV in New Zealand in 2011 after the devastating earthquake there to help in fund raising efforts, and he has also become an ambassador for ‘Care for Children’, an organization that assists disadvantaged children in the poorer parts of the World.
Bear, a committed Christian, also spends time as a motivational speaker with organizations such as churches, schools and businesses, and although his life has been filled with adventure, fame and excitement, underneath it all he keeps a level-head with a simple personal philosophy. As far as Bear Grylls is concerned, it’s best to follow your dreams, but equally important to look after your friends and family too. And for most of his fans, Bear is a good friend as well as an entertaining presenter, a friend who teaches us all to survive in the harshest environments the planet has to offer.