Tuesday, 20 May 2008

BBC survival expert Ray Mears dismisses rival Bear Grylls as 'just a showman'


By Paul Revoir
on 19th May 2008

It is one handy hint which does not feature in the TV survival expert's handbook.

What do you do when under attack from another TV survival expert?

This is the quandary facing Channel 4's Bear Grylls following a vitriolic onslaught from his BBC rival Ray Mears.

In an interview, Mears dismissed the former SAS man as nothing more than a 'showman' and 'boy scout'.

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Ray Mears: 'I'm the boss'

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls apparently chewing raw fish on his show

He also attacked TV directors for trying to 'hype' things up, after Grylls was said to be surviving in 'hell holes', while staying in a motel for his show.

According to Radio Times, 44-year-old Mears laughed out loud when asked if he watched his opposite number's programmes for tips.

He said: 'Do I look for tips from Bear Grylls? Yes  -  on how not to make television programmes! As far as I'm concerned, these people are just showmen.

'I think the viewer knows that if you want to really know how to take care of yourself in the wild, I'm the person to talk to.'

The presenter, whose new series Ray Mears Goes Walkabout begins on Sunday, added: 'I welcome competition, but I want to see real experts, not boy scouts pretending to be.'

Mears claimed his shows, which have also included Wild Food and Extreme Survival, have helped save lives.

'You can take short cuts if you want, but we never have.

'I've had many arguments with directors, telling them, "We do it the right way or not at all". That caused a problem in the old days, but now directors see what happens if you cheat.'

Last summer, 33- year- old Grylls was criticised over revelations that his existence during filming his series Born Survivor had been more comfortable than the programme suggested.

The Old Etonian's escapades attracted 1.4million viewers as he demonstrated gruesome survival tips which included sucking the fluid from fish eyeballs and squeezing water from animal dung. But an adviser to the programme claimed that much was not as it seemed on television.

Viewers were not told that, far from roughing it, Grylls was spending some nights in the Pines Resort hotel at Bass Lake, California, where the rooms have Internet access and it is advertised as 'a cosy getaway for families' complete with blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

In another episode when Grylls declared he was a ' reallife Robinson Crusoe' stuck on a desert island, he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and retired to a motel at nightfall.

Mark Weinert, a survival consultant brought in for the programme, said one show also wrongly gave the impression that the adventurer built a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo and palm leaves for a sail.

Mr Weinert had in fact led a team that built the raft, which was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown constructing it on camera.

'If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive,' Mr Weinert told the Sunday Times.

Invited to respond to the attack by Mears, Bear Grylls was unavailable for comment.

1 comment:

Simon Menzies said...

Grylls is a soldier, trained extensively to kill people and secondarily to survive in certain situations, most notably in escape and evasion. One SAS informal moto is "skive to survive". You get points in SAS Selection for creative thinking, adaptability and if that means avoiding discomfort or skiving (providing you get away with it), then so be it; Who Dares Wins. Ray Mears on the other hand, is a specialist in survival techniques, not a soldier, and actually occasionally teached the UK Military, particularly pilots, in survival. Both have a place in their current industry, one presents a more sensible and in my view more realistic presentation of survival and the other is more an entertainer, but still offers worthwhile advice. Both great viewing.