INTERVIEW: Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls is putting eight celebrities through the wringer.
Bear Grylls is putting eight celebrities through the wringer.
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Bear Grylls stars in a new adrenalin-fuelled six-part series for ITV in which the adventurer takes eight celebrities into the depths of one of the most unforgiving Central American rainforests, where they will be competing in an epic 12-day survival mission.

In Bear Grylls: Mission Survive the celebrity expedition team will be pushed to their physical and emotional limits. Issued daily mission briefings by Bear, they will have to navigate treacherous obstacles and journey through dangerous dense jungle, tes;ng their ability to adapt, improvise and overcome in one of the world’s most hos;le environments.

Joining Bear are actors Emilia Fox and Laurence Fox, singer and actor Max George, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, TV presenter and singer Jamelia, comedy actor Tom Rosenthal, DJ, model and presenter Vogue Williams and Former England International Rugby Player Mike Tindall. We caught up with Bear Grylls. . .

Why did you want to take on this new TV challenge?

“So often, I have seen how the wild can change people for the better. We see unlikely heroes emerge and those we might think are invincible often actually crumble! “

Why was Costa Rica the perfect location for this survival challenge?

“It is a tough gnarly jungle, there are high volcanoes, big rivers and a dramatic coastline that gave us the perfect variety of terrain over six journeys from up high to down low. Then of course there are snakes, crocodiles and scorpions in abundance in this most unforgiving of Central American jungles. “

Did you have any preconceptions of how the celebri[es would fare beforehand?

“What I like is that it is impossible to call the winner at the start. Heroes in movies all look heroic but in real life it is not like that. Until the celebrities were squeezed, you don’t know who is going to emerge. “

Were you pleased with how diverse the line-up was?

“It was great to pull in such high calibre guests but I guess this journey is unique in the sense that it was a genuine expedition like no other. So few people get the chance to do this for real as well as testing themselves and learning skills that will stay with them for years. I am really proud of those that were standing at the end and the journey that they personally had gone through. “

How hard and tough is it living out in the jungle?

“If these guys didn’t cotton on to what I was saying about kindness and hard work being key to surviving then the jungle would teach them the lesson the hard way. “

So how did the celebrities do?

“All of them were impressive in the sense that they all genuinely gave it their all. Nobody held back and everyone went through the pain and fears that are so inherent to unforgiving wildernesses. But the four or so that made it to the end really did show me that they had heart and courage beyond the norm.

“They showed that they were true team players as well as tough lone operators if pushed. That’s a rare quality and to see those traits of determination, resourcefulness and positivity grow so fast in them was inspiring to be with. By the end they were genuine feral warriors! “

How did you enjoy making this show? What did you enjoy most?

“I was nervous at the start, as there was so much on the line in the sense of risk when you start out on a long journey with rookies. But as the group got smaller and tighter, I could trust them with more. By the end, the joy for me was seeing strength and courage in people who at the start almost doubted they had it in them.”

What were your personal highlights?

“Picking the final winner as in my mind it was so deserved. I also loved the last night in the jungle sat around a fire with the remaining celebrites. Everyone had hardened to the environment and they finished stronger. That’s always a cool feeling in a team.”

Do you think any of the celebrities found it particularly tough?

“ Without doubt they all found it hard at times, myself included. They were all tired, adrenalined-out, hungry and hurting. It is just the nature of the jungle - it doesn’t care who we are or how tough we think we are, it still beats you up! That’s why this type of expedition is the ultimate leveller. “

Can you talk us through the criteria for how you chose which celebrity should go? Can you explain why it was not just about the expeditions and how well they did on those?

“I was looking for the celebrity that showed the heart of a survivor. I was not just looking for physical strength but I was also looking for character, determination, courage, positivity, resourcefulness and cheerfulness in adversity, which is a key trait in a survivor and one of the Royal Marines Commandos’ core values.

It is so pertinent in the extremes. “

Bear Grylls: Mission Survive

ITV, Friday, 9pm