In Ultimate Survival on Discovery channel, we see Bear Grylls do amazing stuff, hunting dangerous animals, climbing dangerous mountains and all that fun stuff.

There was another similar show on that channel few years ago, it was called Survivor Man i believe, the idea is to leave a man alone for 7 days, he carries a camera, he has to do the filming and to survive.

That show was pretty boring, maybe because it was so real, all that guy wanted is to eat, maybe some worms, or fish, create a shelter and lay back until the 7 days are over.

Bear Grylls show however is exciting and so i must ask, how real is it? We see Bear climbing dangerous places, and the crew "somehow" follow him.

We see him making a shelter for 1 person, on some tree or in some cave, and the crew "somehow" get through the night.

We see him hunting and eating bugs and drinking his own pee, and the crew "somehow" survive.

And then miraculously, he finds his way out, running behind a train and jumping on it, and the crew "somehow" follow him.

It just doesn't make sense, lets assume that Bear is real survival expert, how can the crew survive? Every single guy in the crew is an expert? There's a production team following him so how can they survive? It seems more like a movie, and not a surviving experience.

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    I believe your description of Survivor Man is completely inaccurate. He did not just create a shelter and lay back until 7 days were over. I am not familiar with 'Ultimate Survival', maybe the name is different in different regions, but 'Man vs Wild' was faked for TV. He was never in any real danger there are plenty of images on the internet of him hanging out with the crew and enjoying food/shelter while the cameras weren't rolling for the show.
    – Colin D
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 18:15
  • @ColinD I'm not criticizing "Survivor Man", I loved it more that "Ultimate Survival" because it seemed real, i'm just saying it's not as exciting but that doesn't make it bad, and I believe what you just said about Bear Grylls, it makes sense.
    – Lynob
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 18:51
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    Nothing concrete, but I don't believe Bear Grylis' show Man v. Wild was actually supposed to be "real". It is presented in a real setting to demonstrate what Bear is talking about and doing to make it easier for the viewer to understand (as well as a little more exciting). Survivor Man, on the other hand IS supposed to be out there on his own, surviving on his own. He does, however, have the means by which to recall someone if he gets seriously in trouble. I don't know how long it takes to retrieve him, but he does have a fail safe. Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 21:02
  • @KeyBrdBasher The reality tag is used for the movie Reality. If you really see the need for such a tag (which would be rather sad), you could name it reality-tv.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 8:56
  • @ChristianRau: My bad.
    – Sayan
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 11:30

5 Answers 5


Man Vs Wild isn't real. If you watch the DVD extras, Bear introduces us to his team. There's a rope expert, a survival food expert, a medical guy etc. The point of the show is to show us how to survive in those situations. And at the beginning of each show there's a disclaimer stating that he is accompanied by a team of experts. He builds his shelters to teach us how to do it, but he doesn't have to stay in them. Once he's taught the viewer how it's done, his job is done. He can go check into a hotel and I don't see anything wrong with that. The show is educational, not a case of "Look what I can do!"

  • why is he building shelters and drinkig his own pee if he can go and check in? equally he could tell the viewer about it while siiting in a comfy armchair by the fireplace! I can go outside now, build a shelter and go back home to sleep in my own bed but what's the point as long as I do not proove anything?? ... nevertheless I felt comfy (wile sitting at my warm home) watching him jumping into that icy stream or hiding inside stinking camel's corpse...
    – user6863
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 21:59
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    +1 for educational show vs vanity project. It's not as if he has anything to prove anyway. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 23:00
  • he is demonstrating that certain things are possible. The crew can have food and water and he can choose not to share it Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 13:44

Grylls is fake. He has a crew with him at all times. Nothing is done without careful preparation. This is documented in the Wiki page, where one crew member admitted the show was fake:

In 2006, a Born Survivor crew member admitted that some scenes in episodes were misleading, indicating to viewers that Grylls was stranded in the wild alone when he was not.[16] The issue of scenes being manipulated was also raised by Mark Weinert, a U.S. survival consultant. One example he gave was of a raft allegedly being put together by team members before being taken apart so Grylls could be filmed building it.

Survivorman is real. He's the only one there. He runs the cameras. He is being monitored by a crew for safety reasons, but he is alone in his environment.

Except for footage of him arriving at his new setting, and being retrieved at the end of the week, the content of each episode is taped entirely by Stroud himself using several DV cameras that he must carry with him everywhere that he goes (he later switched to a number of HDV cameras). The burden of having to carry, place, and retrieve the camera equipment for each shot adds to the challenge and difficulty of each survival situation, and in several episodes Stroud chooses to leave a camera behind, videotaping him as he departs the area (the camera is retrieved later), and in one episode taking place in the Amazon, Stroud is forced to flee his camp and abandon all but two of his cameras due to fear of a stalking jaguar.

I wouldn't suggest you try either, without a lot of preparation. Gryll's show is pre-planned, but it's not completely without risk.


None Bear Grylls shows are "real" in the sense that they depict actual events. They are staged documentaries which demonstrate Grylls performing tasks which:

  1. Never fail
  2. Allow him to find and obtain all of the necessary components for his bushcraft demonstrations
  3. Don't show Grylls being injured or becoming serious ill from being in a remote location
  4. Use editing and time lapse photography to cover up any mistakes or errors that Grylls makes.

This can be ascertained by the fact that his cameraman is ALWAYS in the correct position to record Grylls activities and those activities are never out of focus or out of frame. It can also e seen as Grylls never has to stop what he is doing and start over again completely from scratch as a person might have to do in a true survival situation.

Grylls' show is scripted reality television. It's outcomes are pre-planned and when/if the outcomes which filmed do not meet the specified results they are excised by editing and replaced with scenes which match the outcomes that are desired.

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    While some of the bush-craft is legit, a good deal of it isn't. One particularly egregious example I remember is when he recommends following a river that goes underground as a way to get to the other side of a mountain range (possibly Season 4 Episode 9). If you are in an unknown area NEVER follow a river underground. That demonstrates points 1, 2, and 3 that you made, and is horrible advice/bush-craft.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 17:49

It is not fully real; It is a TV show, so obviously it is not 100% real, but Bear Grylls knows how to survive in a real life situation. And Bear has failed in his survival techniques, for example, when he is in Ecuador, he makes a Bamboo ladder, but it breaks as he is placing it over a river, which costed him time and he didn't get a shelter that night as he didn't cross the river to reach the cave on the other side. Also, it is obvious that Bear is definitely climbing fro real, and if you watch the behind the scenes episodes, the camera crew get harnessed and roped up for maximum safety, while Bear does it for real. Furthermore, Bear does often go hungry and becomes dehydrated, and he does not eat food with the camera crew. As I said before, it is a TV show, so you can't expect it to be 100% real, and Bear job is to DEMONSRATE survival techniques, not actually survive.


Man vs Wild is not real. But if everyone knew it was fake, they wouldn't like it as much. It gives the show more excitement thinking its real.

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    Do you have anything to back this up? Short answers like this usually ends up getting deleted, so please elaborate or provide links to sources proving this to be true.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:22

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