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I Don’t Think You’re Ready For This Telly #1: Bear Grylls

Kicking off the first of a brand-new telly column on PlanetNotion is Alex Lee Thomson and his brush with Bear Grylls at the flashy launch of Grylls’ new programme…

Last night saw one of the most incredible launches of a TV show one could hope for. Tucked beside Battersea Power Station, Discovery unveiled scenes from the new Bear Grylls program Escape From Hell, amid pyrotechnics, fireballs, brimstone projections that covered one side of the landmark, and an abseil entrance by the sexy-as-fook adventurer himself. The night was highlighted by a Q&A session with Bear and Richard Bacon, where they talked about some of the people behind the new series that will tell real-life survival stories when it begins airing on October 7th. Now, I bloody love Richard Bacon – his Beer And Pizza Club is a lost gem in post-pub programming – he’s just so honest, his ability to make you feel as though you’re slouched beside him on a sofa fills your knackers with more warmth than clearing all that fucking jelly in Candy Crush. That bastard jelly.

So great was Bear’s entrance in fact that two fire engines were called to the scene as those on the other side of the river called 999, which offset the appearance by a slightly “off” guest. One of the people who the series was based on also joined Bacon and Grylls for the chat, who we learn was an American – could have been Canadian, who cares – banker who was out snowboarding when things went awry. Snowboarding banker nearly dies in the mountains… so nearly a perfect story.

The show itself looks to sustain the usual standard of other Grylls series, not just recounting harrowing tales of survival, but with Bear recreating the situations, putting himself into similar dangers, it’ll be utterly compelling viewing. No doubt it will be filled with more moments of cringe and terror as a viewer. After all we’re talking about a man who in one episode of Born Survivor gave himself an enema on a makeshift raft, and is prone to rolling out of improvised shelter, grabbing his knife, jamming it into a spider, munching on it and nonchalantly claiming, “that’s fine to eat as it is”. No, Bear. No it’s not.

He’s a man’s man… but for the kind of man that watches such things from the comfort of his television with a mulled look. He’s become a hero amongst documentary-style show watchers, and having seen some behind the scenes footage from Born Survivor, and briefly seeing him off-screen last night, it’s safe to say he’s an annoyingly humble and likable chap, which makes his hardcore excursions all the more impressive. In fact, it’s safe to say he’s one of those, “well, if I had to…” kind of guys. I mean, I would.

From what we’ve seen of Escape From Hell, it’s worth a watch and looks set to be a gem in Discovery’s autumn lineup, set to start in a few weeks. Kudos to Discovery.

In other news…

Dave Gorman’s new show Modern Life Is Goodish continued on Dave and might actually be the first show created by them that isn’t a shit copy of the BBC shows it repeats. Dave hadn’t grasped that the reason some BBC shows work so well is that they’re developed for years, honed on radio by people who have been with the institution for decades, and finally presented in the perfect, controlled, format. But hey, Dave’s made their mistakes, and finally they’ve hit on something fucking brilliant. Dave Gorman’s talent for spinning a yarn in so many directions while keeping it tight and interesting is very well demonstrated in this. Fans of his Googlewhack Adventure will appreciate similar moments of hair-puling disbelief here, overall delivered with Gorman’s cheekiness and congeniality.

There’s only one episode of Breaking Bad left to watch. If you’ve been watching this, no doubt you’ll be with me in crawling into the fetal position for its 75-minute finale duration. I’ve actually been practicing my facial expressions so I’m well prepped.

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If you’ve not been watching it… yyyou’re a dick. Why have you been reading a column about television for this long without ever having seen Breaking Bad? Is it because too many people are talking about it? Is it because you’re a real nerd and can’t possible watch something so popular? Anything mainstream must be shit right? Well… yeah, you’re a dick. There have been so many fantastic American series made in the last few years – The Sopranos, The Wire, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire… it’s flummoxing how incredible TV has got. Breaking Bad is something else though, not just perfectly scripted, tightly woven and brightly performed, it’s nerdy as fuck. There’s stuff happening that you only realize when you read about it online. That’s it’s magic. This is the pinnacle of storytelling in the modern age. There’s even a post-match comedown in Talking Bad, where cast members and special guests discuss the meaning, hidden elements and awesomeness of what just happened. If you’ve been worried about watching this because of all the hype – stop worrying, and just watch it. Quick, before the last ever, EVER, episode, so you can join the rest of us.

And finally…

Just time to mention Homeland, which starts it’s third series soon, which is very exciting. The second season was a bit of a slow burner, but had enough moments to shock the shit out of you – the funeral, yeah, yeah… ah, you have no idea what I’m talking about. Are you still reading this? Tweet me at #readyfortelly and I’ll send this very limited edition Bear Grylls beer mat from last night’s launch to the first person that does so. Whatever.

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Oh, and a new series of South Park is coming in mere days. One of the most clever, intriguing and hysterical shows, cartoon or not, ever devised, which gets more so in each series – don’t judge them on the Zip-lining episode – their return will brighten up the greyness between now and Christmas.

Over and out. Now fuck off and watch telly.

- Alex Lee Thomson



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