I've read in a few places including in comments in a recent article that Man vs. Wild is staged and he has every necessity covered.

Is Man vs. Wild staged or is Bear Grylls actually in dangerous situations when we see him hanging from rocks above rapids etc.?

Example comment:

This fraud is a fairy-floss adventurer who always has a full production crew along on his "solo" adventures. Not much chance of him getting into real strife as even his cook could save him. And, BTW, his real name is Humphrey!

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    Anything on television is automatically suspect of being staged. With the exception of Les Stroud's "Survivorman" ( lesstroud.ca ), other programs of this type that I've seen make shows like the Trailer Park Boys look like a real-life documentary. Jun 13, 2011 at 2:18
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    can't search for it from work, but I once saw on youtube a clip of the show where Mr. Grylls leaps over what is made out to be a dangerous chasm...then they cut to a random person at the exact same spot who shows the chasm as being about 3 feet deep, and further, walks 10 feet along it to find it closes up. The 'dangerous leap' that Mr. Grylls presented was totally fabricated. There was a leap, but it was not dangerous at all an could have been avoided.
    – fred
    Jun 13, 2011 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


The guy was caught sleeping in a hotel, fer Pete's sake. From The New York Times:

But as Mark Weinert, who said he served as a consultant on the show, told The Times of London, “If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive.” More details from The New York Post:

According to Weinert, while filming in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains — an episode in which Grylls, 33, is seen biting off the head of a snake for breakfast — Grylls actually spent some nights with the show’s crew in a lodge outfitted with television, stone fireplaces, hot tubs and Internet access.

This is in direct contrast with Grylls' stated position:

Meant to counter that disbelief is a statement by Mr. Grylls at the beginning of each show, saying he undertakes his adventures carrying only a flint, a knife and maybe some water, and that a camera crew following his journey through the wilderness would not aid him in any way. [Same article]

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    The show unambiguosly states at the beginning of every episode that he is often placed in set-up situations. The fact that there is at least one other person with him is obvious beyond the point of comment, though the quote in the O.P. suggests that the author was indeed unaware.
    – horatio
    Jun 14, 2011 at 19:39

I know this has already gotten the check-mark, but I feel like there's a bit more to contribute.

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Robusto's answer is correct, but take note that the NYT article is from 2007, when the controversy about the show initially erupted. It's all well described in the Wikipedia article, but the gist of it is that the show initially was edited to make it look like Grylls did everything on his own. When it was discovered this wasn't the case, Discovery channel apologized, re-edited older episodes to clarify when he gets help, and the show has for years now had a disclaimer stating that he gets help from his crew. So yes, he receives help from his crew when his game traps fail (most of the time, it seems), when extra equipment is needed, or to just go to sleep at a hotel somewhere. The disclaimer also states that he puts himself into situations you could probably avoid in order to show survival tactics... but that's kind of the point, isn't it?

Few people probably genuinely watch this show to learn how to survive; they want to be entertained, and Grylls knows that. So if his crew provides him with a rabbit or a harness or helps him make a tree shelter, does that really matter? Does that actively take away from the end result? I suppose it did when the show had the pretense of being "real," but it dropped that years ago. Now his crew is just helping him get into and out of trouble, and that's entirely what makes the show fun. It's staged, sure, but being staged doesn't mean Grylls didn't actually just hop into some peat-pit for no reason, or didn't just scale a mesa without any ropes.

One final comment: according to his own Wikipedia article, his birth name isn't Humphrey, it's Edward. (Not that it matters.) And the name Bear comes from a nickname his sister gave him as a child. He's a legitimate climber, though: he's scaled Everest. Check out the page to see some of the other kinda ridiculous things he's done.

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