Grylls Bears All
"You have to think fast...I like that!"
What drives you to extreme environments where the odds are stacked against you?
There is a strange attraction to places where life becomes very raw and "unfluffy." In those difficult moments, I always feel a sharpening of the senses. You are caked in mud, it is pouring with rain, the vine you are climbing up is breaking, and you have to think fast ... I like that!
As a kid, what was your favorite TV show to watch?
MacGyver, of course … and the A-Team!
What is your most treasured adventure memory?
The summit of Everest, at 7:22 a.m. on May 26, 1998, as the sun rose over Tibet, with my best buddy Neil Laughton. Four climbers had just lost their lives on the mountain. We were alone, very high and very vulnerable, but we had a strange strength that we found together. It was a very poignant moment for me, full of much emotion and the culmination of a dream I had held onto since I was a kid. Having broken my back two years beforehand, a big part of me doubted I could ever achieve this; but somehow here I was, and I knew my late father would be smiling. Of that I was sure.
What is the worst food you've eaten in a survival situation?
Raw frozen yak eyeballs; camel intestine juice; raw goat testicles; live snake; maggots as big as a hand, pulsating with yellow pus; and giant live spiders.
How do you cope with media interest, especially criticism of shows? For example, allegations that the show deceived viewers that you were stranded when actually not?
Any criticism is always hard, and I am probably a bit too overcritical and sensitive on myself as well, which never helps. But ultimately what I do as my job feels very right. It is hard work, in tough places and away from my family a lot, but being in the "right" place often is hard. I try to remember that the show touches many people worldwide and helps them get out there and live boldly. That counts for much in my eyes. I am immensely proud of the team I have around me making these shows; they work very hard in some nightmarish conditions, for very little glory. They are the great heroes in my eyes.
"Our job is to look out for each other..."
Do you ever fear for the safety of the crew while in those environments?
We are all very aware of the dangers. Our job is to look out for each other, and to do our roles professionally. We have a team of the best safety crew (two in total -- both ex-UK Special Forces soldiers). That is why it works. I am very proud of them all - camera and safety - they put up with some nasty places week after week with me! You gotta love em!
What does the crew eat? Do they also have to go without water and food, or are they drinking cold water and eating sandwiches while you're diving in shark-infested waters to fish for food?
We all eat and drink together most of the time (combination of military rations or local foods and masses of water often carried from base camp in jerrycans, etc.) but I rarely manage to get them to eat the grubs, etc! They are there to do their job; I am there to do mine. Although I have a strict policy that any animals killed are eaten - and by all the crew. Sometimes I am popular, sometimes not!
What tactics do you use to stay well and unharmed in risk situations?
I am trained in all this stuff from my days with 21 SAS, plus we have a great safety team that monitors what we are doing. Ultimately I try and trust my instinct a lot, which I find works overtime in those key moments. I also pray every day before dawn.
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