I just finished up a bunch of Bear Grylls Live shows in Australia. It was a blast and a little nerve wracking as I played guitar and sung in front of several thousands of people for the first time, but everyone’s response was so supportive. I am also gearing up for another new big TV series with Discovery which I’m not allowed to talk about yet as it is under wraps, but it is going to be wild – big time!
What is the best thing about your job? And the worst?
I feel super lucky to have a job that is what I always dreamt of when I was a boy – basically getting muddy and climbing trees! The real joy is to use that privilege to encourage young people worldwide to be able to follow their dreams in return. The hardest thing about my job isn’t the snake bites or the crocodiles, it’s being away from my family. I have a satellite phone call every day back to my wife and the boys, wherever we are, whatever time zone, to say goodnight. That’s a really important part of my day. In fact, it’s the best part.
You had a very serious accident 15 years ago that nearly left you paralysed. Did it increase your sense of adventure knowing that you had been given a second chance?
It gave me an awareness that we only get one shot at life and you’ve got to live it boldly. Life is so precious and when you come so close to dying it makes you realise that every day is a gift to be lived. Every day I am grateful and thank God, then I get out there and throw myself into these adventures 120 per cent. It’s not rocket science!
What do you do to relax?
Get in a hot bath with my three kids Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry and a cup of tea on the side! Wild eh?!
What was your experience of going to university and being a student like?
Being frustrated that I just wanted to adventure and that academia was not making me smile enough! Don’t get me wrong, university is great, but what I really learnt from it is the value of a few great buddies and teaching myself that life is really very simple: what you put in is what you get out.
What would you like people to know about you that they don’t already?
There are quite a few things! I practice yoga, and I play the guitar and sing. Not brilliantly, but my kids enjoy it! Something else people might not know is that for part of the year I live on a remote island without any mains plumbing or electricity. What else? Well, my favourite film is Point Break. And I have a wife, Shara, and three children.
Do you have any career ambitions that are unfulfilled?
You bet! I kinda need 10 life times to scratch the surface of all the ambitions! Next up is this new show format we are doing and then we head to the Congo in Africa to attempt to kayak this monster river!
Can you ever see yourself in a different profession?
I am always open to stuff – you just have to have one main thing. It is fun though to have a job that gives me the wilderness as my backyard. I’ve been blessed being the host of Man vs Wild, but to me it feels like it’s just the beginning.
What initially made you want to become an explorer?
I was just always the kid who could climb the highest tree and loved being muddy 24/7 – not a lot has changed in that sense! It is still what makes me happiest.
Do you enjoy working on TV and the fame it brings you?
After I climbed Everest, Discovery and Channel 4 approached me, having read my book The Kid Who Climbed Everest that tells the story of what happened on the mountain, and the four guys who lost their lives there. Discovery asked me if they could drop me in some difficult places so I could show people how to survive! They knew my background of combat survival with the British Special Forces and wanted to explore the whole thing of survival in the extremes. I was nervous of doing TV at the start and took some persuading, but it has been a blast and a great privilege to be involved with. Like all good things, it is all about having a great team, and throwing yourself into it completely.
Would you encourage others to follow in your footsteps?
Life is about following your heart and dreams. You must never listen to the dream-stealers! And the difference between extraordinary and ordinary is so often that little word ‘extra’. People distinguish themselves in the big moments – by giving that little bit extra when everyone else is quitting! Where others see a crisis you have got to see opportunity. Then life becomes interesting.