Sunday, March 18, 2007

born survivor

Having braved the Alps last week, this week survival-ninja Bear Grylls was stalking purposefully - and murderously - through the swamps of the Everglade forest in Florida in his frequently hilarious 'Born Survivor' programme. He's a pretty tough guy and, completely isolated in this most dangerous of habitats he's forced to confront the local nature by engaging in hand-to-hand combat with, er, some minnows, a handful of insect grubs, a baby frog and a football-shaped turtle. Oh, and he runs away from some alligators and snakes, too, screeching "we're too close! we're too close!", and once, memorably, climbs a tree because he sees some bubbles in the water.

When it comes to survival techniques, mind, Bear is pretty good. Lost in the forest, he needs to find higher ground. but he has a solution. He ties his shoelaces together and shins up a tree. "I'll be able to get a glimpse of some pine trees," he tells us, which is good "because they grow on dry ground". He gets to the top, and shins back dejected. That didn't work. Oh, right.

Bear is a man who wears a constant expression of furrow-browed concentration, telling us that he is in danger every time he hears the breeze rustling through the trees, and adding on a stern, anxious commentary. "The swamps are so forbidding. Anything could be lurking in the water", he tells us, wading past some crisp packets and a shopping trolley (for budget reasons the episode was filmed in the stream behind waitrose in Chichester). I jest of course, and Bear is doubtless in a pretty hairy situation, but it's hard to take his narrative seriously when his cameraman is uncomplainingly willing to wade through alligator-infested waters without mentioning his rapidly-beating heart every ten seconds.

Bear reminds me of someone, as I watch, but I can't remember who. Afterwards, it comes to me - remember Damien, Stephen Tompkinson's character from 'Drop The Dead Donkey'? The investigative journalist, always keen to dress up in army fatigues and more intent on looking tough than being journalistically accurate. I'm not saying that Bear fakes anything, but he has that same sense of machismo. In one scene he knifes a turtle (is that really necessary? I don't see why he can't just explain that they're a good source of food rather than kill one of the little buggers) and appears subsequently with his t-shirt drenched in blood. You can't help wondering if he thought the blood might not look pretty damn good on camera.

I think I'll remember the bit where he eats the tiny cute little tree-frog, meanwhile, for the rest of my life. But at least if I'm ever stranded in a swampy forest, I'll have some idea what to do. So thanks for that, Bear Grylls.

HANG ON A MINUTE! No, actually, not thanks to you Mr. Grylls. Thanks to Kris Thoemke, instead. Who is Kris Thoemke, you may ask? Well, I'll reproduce the first two lines of the credits for you, and that may answer your question.

Presented by

Survival Expert



Bloggers4Labour said...

Yes, very true. Did you see the one in the Costa Rican jungle where he managed to either poison himself or drink unfiltered water, and was throwing-up all night? I think I'd rather be stuck in a jungle with Ray Mears: someone who'd take the precaution of whittling an authentic bow and fletched arrows before taking on the local wildlife; someone who knows where squirrels' nuts are buried!

Dave said...

Wow!- I wrote a very similar post on my blog last night!- The first proper post I've done- Although yours is funnier- mine is just a lot of swear words :-)

dark angel said...

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Anonymous said...

"I'm not saying that Bear fakes anything..."

No, of course not.

While viewing anything presented as fact, one should always remain as objective as possible, but you seem completely unconvinced and a tad bitter and I'm not sure why that would be.

Moreover, why would you assume that Bear is claiming to be an Everglades survival expert? The promise is nothing more than showing the audience how to survive in that particular environment. Few would have complete survival knowledge of every environment the world has to offer. Therefore, it seems fairly intelligent to be advised before commencing on such a journey to speak with local experts beforehand and Bear has been very open about this very fact.

When you achieve something in your life do you deflect 100% of the praise to the books you've read or the teachers that taught you?

As for the crew that accompanies him: that issue has also been discussed. They accompany him outfitted in and with appropriate gear and while they are instructed to not interfere or interact with the host of the show, they are prepared to call in support should things go awry.

So please remind me how any of this makes the show any less informative or interesting? Oh that's right; it's pessimism.

Now, based on your writing, I'm comfortable going out on a limb and assuming that you're an intelligent individual and hopefully imaginative. I wonder if you could imagine it if you were ever in the unfortunate circumstance of being lost (perhaps after a plane crash or something) in an unfamiliar land, if your mind would wander back to anything you saw Bear do or talk about and if by chance you remembered something that *might* help you, if you'd be willing to put doubt aside and try it. Pushing the imagination further, if you survived the ordeal I wonder if you'd be prone to thanking the show, Bear Grylls, or even "KRIS THOEMKE".

Best regards and safe travels,