April 26, 2008 / 12:35 AM / in 10 years

TV adventurer Bear Grylls struggles to justify risk

NEW YORK (Reuters) - For TV adventurer Bear Grylls the flavors of raw grubs, urine and yak eyeballs are fleeting, but the struggle of rationalizing a life of risk won’t fade.

“The discomfort never lasts forever,” Grylls said about eating raw snakes and frogs, and drinking fluid squeezed from fresh elephant dung.

It is all part of a day’s work on his nature survival television show “Man vs. Wild” on the Discovery Channel.

“I‘m used to the army and adjusting to things quite quickly,” said the 33-year-old former British special forces soldier, who has jumped from a helicopter into places ranging from the jungles of Zambia to frozen Siberia for the show.

But revealing all the risks he faces to his wife and two young sons after coming home to his houseboat on the Thames river in London is a bit harder. He doesn’t give details about how he dislocated a hip or broke thumbs or toes on both feet.

“It’s an unresolved issue in my life because essentially my job can at times get a bit dangerous,” he said.

EARLY START

Grylls got his taste for danger from his father, the late Michael Grylls who was a member of parliament in England.

“My way of being close to my dad was being on mountains and cliff faces with him. It’s where I got my intimacy when I was a kid.”

He believes commitment keeps him safe on the job.

“When you commit to it that’s when you actually don’t get injured, it tends to be when you hold back that’s when you get hurt,” Grylls explained.

But that hasn’t saved him from criticism that he has taken short cuts from danger on the program.

The Discovery Channel issues disclaimers on each episode after it was revealed by a former consultant that some of his adventures were staged, and that he occasionally slept in a motel while filming episodes instead of roughing it every night in the wild.

Grylls admits the show is a team effort, with cameramen and safety personnel ready to take charge if something goes wrong.

“Knowing that ultimately if all goes wrong, that I’ve got backup, I’ve got someone with a rifle if an alligator takes me ... that allows me to put myself in more extreme situations.”

In a forthcoming episode in Mexico he killed and skinned a snake, ate it, made a bag out of the skin, and urinated into it. He drank the urine the next day to show people how they can survive for long periods without water.

“By that stage it was pretty stinking with all the snake entrails in it ... that was kind of a low point,” he said.

But Grylls has no plans to end his adventures.

“It’s one of the few things I‘m good at in my life,” he said. “It’s where I come alive.”

Reuters/Nielsen

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