Bear Grylls: Britain’s Biggest Adventures, review

15 Sep 2015

"David Attenborough meets James Bond is strangely endearing"

After feeding Barack Obama dodgy salmon, burning Kate Winslet's tampon and having a short-lived shirtless bromance with Zac Efron, Britain's most famous "survival expert" has bid a temporary goodbye to his popular American series Running Wild with Bear Grylls to return to his humble beginnings.

Britain's Biggest Adventures sees Grylls reclaim the celebrity spotlight as a David Attenborough-meets-James Bond figure, discovering bat lofts in Wales, crayfish-rearing projects in England and reindeer herds in Scotland, while free diving, abseiling and paragliding in various skin-tight all-terrain outfits.

The first episode took us to Wales, where the adventurer displayed his extreme survivalist skills interspersed with some natural history lessons for good measure. But predictably it was Grylls rather than the animal kingdom that took centre stage. From the word go, his 52-foot free dive to find a mantis shrimp in Cardigan Bay was intended to show off his endurance capabilities rather than the creature itself, which surfaced for a few minutes before the presenter threw himself back in the water for a third time sans oxygen.

His starring James Bond moment came when he paused to take off his top in the middle of Snowdonia's most dangerous rapids, accompanied by slow-motion action shots and an epic soundtrack. His mission: to meet a fern expert, whose concerns about abseiling down a waterfall only served to make Grylls look even more alpha male.

The adventurer came under fire last week for saying Attenborough's broadcasting style has become "dry" – and while Grylls is hardly a zoological expert, the show does sex up the sleepy natural history documentary format. James Bond posing aside, Grylls' keen enthusiasm for Britain's landscape was endearing. Perhaps some American effusiveness has rubbed off on this Old Etonian.

Daisy Wyatt for the Independent

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