Bear Grylls an exhausting act to follow

17:00, May 27 2012
Bear Grylls
FROM ANOTHER PLANET: Bear Grylls is like a high-speed, super-energised adventure bunny.

The key to enjoying a programme can be making an honest attempt to identify with it. So when Bear Grylls (Sunday, Prime, 7.30pm) describes his day, I mentally line mine up beside it.

He's going to parachute into the Mojave Desert, which he describes as one of "the most inhospitable places on Earth". I'm going to climb up the steps to my car deck to retrieve my morning paper.

Yes, the ungenerous describe Wellington's climate as inhospitable at times, and on a cold day, my car deck, while not enduring the extreme weather conditions of the Mojave Desert, can be icy.

Bear parachutes in. He free falls. He calls out with yee-ha-ing vigour. His keen little voiceover is telling us that without air supply, he would be unconscious in 20 seconds. Trudging silently up my 70 steps, I earnestly hope that there is no freefall involved.

With not far to go, he stops falling at 200 miles an hour, and opens his parachute. With 10 steps to go, aware that I'm in dressing gown and slippers, I also slow. It is at this time in the early morning that local maniacs are out, power-walking in pairs, being dragged by dogs along the narrow paths.

I hear voices: women like to talk while walking. I hide in the shadow of the letterbox. Who knows? The actors could be out there, still stalking me for my unconsidered words weeks ago.


Grylls lands. He has gone from being hugely cold to hugely hot in just seconds. My climb has warmed me up too. But that's not all – his crew is going to make things even worse for him. He's going to face the brute force of a flash flood and take on a massive man-made sandstorm.

My crew – in the form of the person who in the wee hours races past my house in a car, casually aiming my paper in the general direction of the car deck – has made it harder for me too.

There can't be any more unappealing sight than a woman of a certain age wearing a dressing gown and slippers lying flat on her front on an icy car deck attempting to retrieve the newspaper lying tantalisingly under the midpoint of the car.

He's big on survival skills, so he's full of interesting tips on what to do. This madman has taken a whole lot of people to the desert with him and they've got vast machines in place to set up the sandstorm. At least in Wellington we don't have to worry about sandstorms, although, come to think of it, a visit to Lyall Bay in a southerly ...

He's busy jamming his T-shirt in his mouth – "Cover your airspaces with your T-shirt. It won't be perfect, but if it's all you've got, it's better than nothing!" My eyes briefly glaze over and I start to think of less challenging things, and when I return, there he is hiding behind something that looks like a camouflaged tank on its side.

But you can see all the people and the sandstorm-making machines, so it all looks a little like expensive cheating.

Then it's flash floods. This is bad timing: just the other day, lunching with friends, the talk has turned to where not to be if the big one hits Wellington, and one of the others, who also lives near the Karori Reservoir, mentions it, and we wonder about flash floods and tunnels and what happens if a lot of water ... But if Bear can get through it, so can we.

Interestingly, he was actually in New Zealand walking across some ravine on a piece of flax twine or whatever when the February 22, 2011, Christchurch earthquake struck.

He's from another planet, but his energy is attractive. I try to think who he reminds me of and, bizarrely, it's Prince Harry, seen on TV just the other day struggling towards the North Pole with a group of soldiers who had been seriously wounded in Afghanistan. They have the same breezy, laddish, can-do manner, the easy entitlement of those who love doing extremely brave things, comforted, I'm sure, by the knowledge that not very far away a helicopter sits waiting.

I can see the appeal of Bear Grylls without wanting in the least to have his life. Apparently, in spite of being a very watched man, his contract with the Discovery Channel has recently been terminated. Ah, you can outrun a rattlesnake, but some things are greater than a viper.

Perhaps, like me watching this high-speed super-energised adventure bunny, the producers and directors just started to feel a little tired.


OK, so it's more my sort of thing. Cider with Rosie is on Vibe at 8.30 tonight, and again on Sunday at 9pm.

The Dominion Post