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Who is Bear Grylls?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 23, 2024
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Edward Michael Grylls, known to the public as Bear Grylls, is a prominent British author, television presenter, and motivational speaker who is best known for his work with the Discovery Channel series "Man V. Wild: Born Survivor" as well as the series "Escape to the Legion." His television work is well known in both the United Kingdom and the United States, both for his series and for some work in commercials.

Grylls was born on 7 June 1974 and is the son of the late Sir Michael Grylls, a prominent member of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. Educated at Eton College, Grylls also attended London University, where he studied for a degree in Hispanic Studies. A veteran of the United Kingdom Special forces, he served as a member of the SAS TA as a Sabre soldier. His military career was cut short in 1996 after an accident left him with a broken spine. During his time in the Special Forces, Grylls received training in a variety of disciplines, among them desert and winter warfare, parachuting, climbing, explosives technology, and combat survival. The skills that Grylls developed during this time helped to prepare him for his later work as an explorer and adventurer.

After spending 12 months in rehabilitation, Grylls launched a career as a celebrated adventurer. One of his first celebrated feats involved scaling Mount Everest. As part of the fanfare that resulted from that event, he appeared in a series of television commercials for Sure® deodorant. The premise of the commercial was based on a comparison of what really makes Grylls sweat (his work as a motivational speaker) to the task of scaling the mountain.

Grylls’ notoriety led to the project of doing a four part documentary in 2005. Centered around his entry — along with 11 other UK recruits — into the French Foreign Legion, the project was named "Escape to the Legion." The series chronicled the progress of Grylls and the other recruits during the rigorous month long training they endured in the Sahara Desert. Broadcast in the United Kingdom, the series was also picked up by the Military Channel in the United States, providing even more exposure for the adventurer. This project led to the development of "Born Survivor," an eight part documentary that was broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, and on the Discovery Channel in such locations as Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The premise of "Born Survivor" placed Bear Grylls in a variety of settings, most of them inhospitable, where he would be called upon to demonstrate how to survive under adverse conditions. A support team, who meet Grylls at a prearranged meeting point at the end of the adventure, monitors his progress. The series was produced for several years and attracted a sizable audience.

Grylls continues to work as a motivational speaker, with projects in both the United Kingdom and the United States. He also writes, with his 2004 offering, Facing the Frozen Ocean, selling well.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including PublicPeople, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon246198 — On Feb 08, 2012

Doesn't mention he was 21 SAS? Don't know where you got that from, but he's always been very clear he wasn't full time SAS. Just read his books. He's mentioned he was in 21 SAS many times.

I really don't get all the hate on him. Ah wait, he's a devout christian. Maybe that's why? He's great and I'll bet everyone who bashes him is just jealous for not having accomplished what he has. As for the Scouts, he is a great role model. And please stop saying he is fake. It is TV! That's supposed not to be real all the time!

Come on, he's just showing what to do when in a survival situation and that's why they sometimes set up things. He's a very decent and friendly guy actually.

By anon244500 — On Feb 01, 2012

I think what bear has done with his life is brilliant. It's amazing; the man has a freak accident, was injured horribly and gets back on his feet and gets back out there. Then he continues to climb, jump out of helicopters and gets on with it. How many people would do that? What a legend. Good luck mate.

By anon244498 — On Feb 01, 2012

Bear is a hero and what he does is fantastic. He shows what it takes to survive and be strong and be a true warrior. The show is about showing people survival situations and what would happen if they were in that situation. So take note. Good luck Bear. Keep up the good work.

By anon244496 — On Feb 01, 2012

Critics out there with moaning attitudes should get themselves out there. They should go on and give it a go and test themselves to their limits. I'll bet nothing they could do would come close. They wouldn't last a night. I'll bet none of them could eat snakes or raw meat or scorpions. They make me laugh.

By anon152736 — On Feb 15, 2011

I refuse to watch someone who loves to shock and be as confrontational as possible. The show is fake and unnecessarily cruel. Got to see him bite a fish's spinal cord to kill it, which could have been described rather than shown -- especially since he had a knife available.

Then I got to see him kill an alligator by severing its spinal cord. Again, not required. Pretending to be cornered by a half grown alligator doesn't make it a requirement to kill. Telling me it's fully grown doesn't make it so. Not all of the audience is as stupid as he supposes.

I think he is cheap and caters to an audience who like cheap thrills. SAS or not, I'll pass.

By anon142911 — On Jan 14, 2011

What Bear does is showing survival skills mixed in a high speed program which makes it rather exciting to watch. It's just not the same as the bushcraft Ray Mears shows us, but not less entertaining or educating. About his role in 21SAS TA: Some of the Chairborne warriors who posted crap about him in here, just remember that he passed SAS selection and TA or reg SAS. The selection is the same! He has my respect!

By anon137769 — On Dec 29, 2010

There's nothing wrong with bear. lots of people love his show and most of all love him because of his show it is the most exciting show and very entertaining. I'm a big fan of you Mr. Edward Michael Grylls. clemence p. from philippines

By anon113054 — On Sep 22, 2010

Bear Grylls is not a survival expert, he's a fake! Yes he's fit but tv is all about ratings,a lot of the things he does would not be valid in a survival situation.

With real survival it's not an action-packed jump of a cliff and into a crocodile mouth.

Spectacle, that's what everyone wants to see! Stunts are just for ratings!

If you follow Bear in a survival situation you'll increase your chance of death, because the risks he takes greatly outweigh the reward! What about the basics, water, shelter, fire and regulating your core body temperature? Does he mention that?

By anon110882 — On Sep 13, 2010

I'd wager not one of you would dare call these men "weekend warriors" to their faces. Nor, I know, do you have the mental or physical strength to pass selection for the TA. It's so easy to be brave when you're hiding behind a computer screen, though, isn't it?

Whinging about bear makes you less of a man, not more. If you haven't accomplished all you want in life, don't blame him.

By anon84917 — On May 18, 2010

Bear has clearly achieved more in his life some people can't stand it. SF is still a huge achievement, TA or regs. I've met many a TA man who was worth his weight in gold, just as I've met many a reg who were oxygen thieves.

What Bear brings to our screens is something different and exciting.

By anon79452 — On Apr 22, 2010

I think he is full of crap. I knew myself he wasn't commando or22 sas. I was a soldier myself and a real soldier knows a real soldier when he sees one.

By anon32221 — On May 18, 2009

Being a Saturday and Sunday soldier is not 22 Sqdn Special Airservice. Money talks eh he came from money and TV companies love "Sirs". He definitely should not be a role model for the scouts.

Even today when publicising the scouts he dropped in his SAS service never mentioned it was a TA role and he got plugs in for Channel 4 or whoever shows his silly programs and Discovery who should have more sense.

Being a War pensioner who served full-time in the services; not Saturdays and Sundays with an occasional week night and two weeks at camp---I object to this man using TA roles as his nomenclature--he is a publicity seeking phony.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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