The Island With Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls: Mission Survive. Two rare chances to catch Bear Grylls on TV

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The Island With Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls: Mission Survive. Two rare chances to catch Bear Grylls on TV

April 10, 2016 - 10:23
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When the boys met the girls on The Island With Bear Grylls, legendary Twickenham streaker Erica Roe revealed: “I haven’t even got my bra on.” No change there then.

Hannah was water taxied off The Island

When the boys met the girls on The Island With Bear Grylls, legendary Twickenham streaker Erica Roe revealed: “I haven’t even got my bra on.” No change there then.

Week two of Channel 4’s endurance test and after the males and females bumped into each other on a deserted beach the scene was set for dramatic developments. Gender was now top of the agenda.

After the blokes suggested that drinking stinking water from a filthy stagnant lagoon wasn’t a great idea, the grateful ladies stopped. Hence they stopped being sick.

“I’m fascinated by the change now the men are here,” said Erica. “Suddenly, we’re helpless women.”

As if to prove it, Sarah gushed: “Oh my God I can’t believe they’re here. My prayers have been answered.” Mind you, the 31 year-old camerawoman was at a low ebb having spent hours stooped over the rocks battling crippling stomach problems.

“I have got the worst diarrhoea ever,” she cried as another fun-filled episode got off to an uplifting start.

Meanwhile, fresh from her triumphant medical opinion that the brown lagoon was safe for consumption, doctor Alice was busy chatting up hunky chef Elliott. But no dice. He was missing his girlfriend.

And, after viewers complained about the swearing, the f-words kept on coming. Alice upon first seeing the guys: “What the f***. F***ing hell.” Tilly on the bed arrangements: “I’m sick to f***ing death of sleeping like a f***ing peasant.” Erica on her new companions: “F***ing men. F*** you.”

But sad news as a ferocious thunder storm brought back amputee Iraq veteran Hannah’s post-traumatic stress disorder and she quit the show in floods of tears.

They’d all been going on about what an amazingly strong person she was. But she was clearly too fragile to weather the horrors of TV’s totally tropical survival special.

Over to Bear: “I’ve made sure that the island has enough indigenous animals and vegetation to keep both the men and women alive.” Translation: He’s shipped in innocent creatures to be slaughtered on the altar of mass entertainment. Isn’t that special?

But, of course, this wasn’t Bear’s only programme in a Grylls-packed week. As his ITV dud Mission Survive limped to its conclusion, our hero told the three finalists: “The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again with the same result.”

A statement that pretty much summed up this horrendously repetitive series. The result being the extreme boredom of the handful of remaining viewers. Apart from the hilarious rectal rehydration romp (minor stars having H20 pumped into their backsides), this celebrity trudge through the South African wilderness delivered tedious telly.

Anyway, after yet more rock climbing and fire starting, the female footballer beat the obscure singer and the Dancing On Ice bozo. And Bear sent a red flare soaring into the sky.

Then a helicopter arrived to winch the triumphant Alex Scott and Bear aboard. And the dynamic duo flew into the sunset leaving Samantha Barks And Jason Gardiner stranded on the ground.

There was no rhyme or reason for any of this. Apart from the fact that the famously macho Mr Grylls is obsessed with choppers.

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Simon Davies's picture

As current reality shows go, The Island with Bear Grylls is one of the better ones. Its premise is simple: lob a handful of largely indistinguishable people (save, perhaps, for 57-year-old farmer Erika) on to a tropical island and let them fend for themselves for a month. Will they get on? Will they starve? Will they turn to cannibalism? What do you think? As Papa Bear himself intoned in the opening sequence, there are only "a few basic tools" on the island. But enough about the participants.

At its worst, The Island was passable, as we watched the islanders (note: not 'contestants' - this isn't a competition with a prize) struggle with starvation and bicker with each other over rotten shark guts. But at its best, it was pretty gripping.

Having the islanders as their own camera crew was a clever move. Without an obvious production crew on hand, this felt more immediate, more perilous - the Blair Witch Project meets Shipwrecked. And yes, there were some pretty hairy moments during the series, and these crises was when the show was at its best.

Standout moments include former soldier Hannah being stricken with PTSD during a thunder storm, and hapless 'Doctor' Dan hacking his own leg open when cutting through the jungle: cue HD close ups of Dan sewing up the gaping wound himself. But the most dramatic moment came when emaciated student Patrick slipped off a cliff during another of Desperate Dan's expeditions - landing with one heck of a crunch on the rocks below. We know this, because we saw this repeated over and over again in countless recaps. The rescue mission that followed, as the sea rushed in, was adrenaline-pumping stuff. Whether the peril was real, or due to clever editing, isn't clear - but it made for great TV.

Which all made the finale a tad anti-climatic. A big deal was made of the gender divide - it seems men don't handle starvation quite as well as females, apparently - and the danger came from "a little prick". No, not Dan with another of his machismo-driven missions, but rather a cut on insurance salesman Simon's foot. "Why didn't I just do Geordie Shore?" moaned Simon. He admitted he came on the show to "prove" his "manliness". Well, he got his chance, when he limped off on a hunt for a crocodile that had been spotted - with only a twig and some string.

The show tried to ratchet up the tension as they 'stumbled' on the croc, which raised more suspicions on the viewer's part - were the islanders really discovering turkeys, pigs and crocodiles themselves, or did the producers have a hand in it? In the end, Simon ensnared the creature - which was about two feet long, rather than the beast we'd been expecting - and another islander stabbed it through the head with the aid of a knife and a rock. Yes, the islanders were starving and had to eat, and yes, we need authenticity - but there is an uneasy question being raised about the ethics of killing these animals for our viewing pleasure. No matter - Simon returned to camp a hero, having proven his worth. And there was plenty of crocodile to go around. Hoorah!

The series drew to a close as the islanders were collected by the wisdom-spouting Yoda-like Bear, as they told us of the journeys they had been on, and how much they had changed, before diving into plush hotel beds and ringing home on smart phones. We've seen this all before, but The Island did it well. Was it at as authentic as the producers wanted us to think? Probably not. But it was fun believing it was. Now where's my twig and string?