This man is, I suspect, clinically insane. I’ve seen bits of episodes of Born Survivor in passing before but I’ve never watch one all the way through – I don’t know why – so on Saturday, I decided to sit down and check him out on Channel 4.
Bear is a former Special Forces soldier and in this series of daring/lunatic shows, he demonstrates how to survive “in the world’s most extreme environments”. For this episode, Bear ventured into the unforgiving and decidedly human unfriendly forests of Transylvania, where he negotiated steep ravines, cavernous underground water systems and encountered a potentially deadly brown bear.
Battling the rugged landscape, Bear slid down treacherous gorges and climbed sheer limestone cliffs. Finally, he headed underground and followed a subterranean river through dark caves in the hope of cutting beneath the torturous terrain above, all the time keeping up a constant commentary of helpful hints should any of us viewers find ourselves in a similarly tricksome situation.
It’s very unlikely I’d ever need a lot of his advice because personally, my idea of a holiday wouldn’t be a trip to the heart of ‘Dracula country’ – and more specifically, the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania – where the forests are teeming with ferocious predators, including big cats and very big brown bears who produce very big poos…
But as we were to nauseatingly find out, bear poop can make a meal for a person if you’re really desperate, and you’d have to be. I mean I know some of the buffet meals in Spanish hotels can be a bit dodgy but at least they aren’t made up of poo, I hope.
I watched from behind my cushion as Bear encountered his namesake’s big pile of doo-doo and paused to rummage through it while explaining that a bear’s digestion is pretty rapid so some food passes through almost whole. So, having found himself a sizeable chunk of apple in the poop, he informed us, “All you need to do is give it a bit of a rinse with some water…” which he did while adding, “it won’t be 100, 100, 100% clean but, it’s basically ok to eat” and eat it he did while I gagged into the cushion. He didn’t look like he was enjoying it very much though as he said,
“It’s pretty sharp, like someone’s taken an apple core and smothered it in poo…” erm, actually Bear, that’s precisely what happened.
“But it could save your life” he concluded, eating the rest and making ready to move on before the bear came back and wanted to know why some bloke in an anorak was eating his second-hand apples. There are 6,000 bears in Romania apparently so I guess in extremis, that’s a lot of crap meals, in all senses of the word.
And that wasn’t the only gross bush-tucker-esque meal; there was snail and a wriggling trout too, all of which was just as grim to watch as the poo banquet; I think if I were ever for some reason stranded in such a place – despite the fact there were clearly paths so it wasn’t all that uninhabited by humans one presumes – I’d just lie down and die before I’d eat any of the things Bear did.
But regardless of the on-spew factor of this show, it’s without doubt very entertaining to watch someone else doing mental and dangerous things from the safety of one’s own living room where, for me anyway, the biggest predator is a prowling husband who wants the remote.
Watching him making fires from bits of fungus and building bear-proof shelters was fun, as was seeing him “tombstoning” – a very apt word indeed – into a river. He’s clearly a man for whom the fragile hold on life isn’t so fragile… I hope.
He seems able to survive where others just wouldn’t, and whether that’s down to his Special Forces training or the fact that he seems catlike in the number of alloted lives he’s been given, I’m not entirely sure. And despite the fact that I imagine most of the shows are going to be pretty much the same, just in a different location, I’ll definitely be watching again!
Let us know what you thought of it and if, like me, this was your first Bear encounter, will you be tuning in again?