While we’re watching Running Wild and we’re sure that Bear Grylls will say that some of these new episodes are his favorite ever, we look back at his first TV show Man vs. Wild and some of the entertaining things he got up to during those early years of his TV career.
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The show saw Bear experience some of the world’s most inhospitable landscapes, from jungles and deserts to tiny Pacific islands, but his favorite episode focused on urban survival. They filmed it in an old disused marine dockyard on the Baltic coast of Poland.
Here, Bear swapped the jungles and deserts for a gray urban landscape to test his survival skills among concrete, high walls, and broken glass.
This episode was in Season 5 of Man vs. Wild, so the crew were looking to take adventure and survival to the next level, and some of them had suggested an “apocalypse-type scenario.”
Bear says he loved filming it. “As a team, it was epic to shoot. We had the space and freedom to break some of our own rules and the conventional Man vs. Wild formula, and to go all-out apocalypse,” he says in Never Give Up.
The base that they filmed the show in was a former Nazi dockyard, where Nazis had repaired U-boat submarines using slave labor, then left it abandoned.
The setting for the episode was a huge abandoned shipyard with big, old warehouses, hidden tunnels, plus fuel dumps and oil reservoirs. There was also broken glass everywhere.
“The place was full of dust, grease, pigeon crap, and a sense of history and hardship that was difficult not to feel,” he says.
The opening of the episode sees Bear arriving clinging onto the side of a fast-moving Special Forces-type RIB craft and then leaping from it onto a cargo net suspended over the water from an old crane.
Parkour and Backflips
From there, he climbs up the crane and then makes his way across electricity wires, down elevator shafts, and up cables, finding his way around. At one stage, Bear, who was trained in demolition in the Special Forces, finds some old oxygen and acetylene bottles and makes explosives to blow off the doors to access a factory, leaping through a burning doorframe to get in.
“It was a fun chance to make the whole thing feel a bit more like a movie, with some cool elements, such as doing parkour and backflips off rooftops, swinging in through windows, and getting wedged in narrow ventilator shafts,” says Bear.
The show was all carefully planned of course, with safety experts on hand, but Bear says he loved how it broke the mold of previous episodes and did something new with the format. He says that by the end of it, he was so covered in grease and oil and grime that it took a whole week to look normal again.
“And I have generally set a pretty high benchmark for getting dirty,” he says.