Beloved of Gareth Keenan types everywhere, Bear Grylls represents the last true bastion of manliness in this soft, feminised age. Where men get their beards waxed, wear designer clothes and never come closer to nature than lounging in London Fields with the squirrels and the pigeons. Or something like that.
Continuing with his tradition of taking celebrities and thrusting them into his world of pain and hardship, Bear has brought along comedy legend Ben Stiller for a two day adventure on the Isle of Skye. Why Ben Stiller?
‘Ben’s a comedy legend but I think behind that talent is a man who really yearns for adventure’
Says Bear. Although I’m not sure where he’s getting that idea from.
Anyway, Ben’s at a whisky distillery, sampling the produce and waiting for Bear to turn up. When he does, he’s on a helicopter, and the two of them climb aboard. But, not inside the chopper, oh no! They’re standing on the undercarriage for no reason in particular, other than that it looks so god-damn cool (although he pulled the same stunt with Stephen Fry last year, who didn’t quite manage it with such style).
The chopper drops them off in the mountains and Bear waves off the pilot like a man who’s just stumbled out of a taxi after a Saturday night bender. Doesn’t give him a tip though, the stingy git.
As they slip and slide their way up and down the mountains, Bear calls out more encouragement and praise for his teammate. “You’re tough,” “you’re a fighter,” “you’re a survivor!’”
Ben, it turns out, is equally confused as we are as to how Bear has formed this impression. Or why he’s plagiarising the empowering lyrics of Destiny’s Child.
Their next challenge is to rappel down into a narrow gully. They have ‘no idea what they’ll find down there’, although luckily there happens to be a film crew waiting to film their descent, which really is a fortunate coincidence. I don’t wish to sound snide, but the constant ramping up of the danger quotient and ominous pronouncements of doom do wear a little thin after a while.
They spend the night in a cave, drinking naturally filtered water and eating flame cooked limpets with wild garlic which Bear invitingly describes as ‘absolutely disgusting’. They swap stories of their families, and it is a genuinely heart-warming scene as they find common ground discussing the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Next morning, they have to Jumar back up the cliff they rappelled down before – a technique involving a pair of metal clamps that can only slide up. Ben is flapping all over the place and really struggling, but to his great credit he makes it all the way up. All that’s left now is a tricky walk along a rocky shoreline, and a leap into the ocean before swimming to the seaplane to complete their adventure.
On the whole, Ben Stiller comes across as an all-round first-class chap. He doesn’t spend the whole trip moaning and whinging and he tackles the challenges head-on, keeping up a cheery demeanour and a good sense of humour throughout. Bear is equally impressed and awards Ben an honorary kilt for his troubles.
It’s easy to laugh at this show, with its OTT set-pieces and concise, 45 minute personal development message, but its heart is in the right place. With a bit more restraint and less pre-orchestrated stunts, it could be a real winner.
Actually, that sounds really boring. I say more extremes, more attitude, more peril! Next week, Bruce Forsyth joins Bear and the French Foreign Legion on a 300 mile hike through the Namib Desert. I hope.
Bear’s Wild Weekend with Ben Stiller is available to watch now online