The Island with Bear Grylls

The Island with Bear Grylls
Starring Bear Grylls
Narrated by Bear Grylls
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 8
Executive producer(s) Bear Grylls
Ben Mitchell
Delbert Shoopman
Tim Whitwell
Location(s) Isla Gibraleón and Isla San Telmo, Pearl Islands, Panama
Running time 60 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Shine Television
Bear Grylls Ventures
Original channel Channel 4
Original run 5 May 2014 – present
External links

The Island with Bear Grylls is a survival skills reality television series narrated by Bear Grylls on the Channel 4 which began on 5 May 2014.

In the first series, thirteen British men were taken to a remote, uninhabited Pacific island by Bear Grylls for a month where they were left completely alone, filming themselves, and with only the clothes they were wearing and some basic tools. Their initial priorities were to find a fresh water source and food to feed themselves.[1]

On 23 May 2014, it was announced that The Island has been recommissioned for a second series to air in 2015.[2] Within a day of the request for participants, almost 40,000 applied to appear on the second series,[3] and over 80,000 applied in total.[4] The second series features two groups, one male and one female, on two separate islands.[5]


The show is presented as a challenge for modern men to see if they can survive when marooned on a Pacific Island armed only with minimal tools and their own initiatives.[6] According to Bear Grylls, masculinity is in crisis, and he is interested to see if men can survive stripped of the luxuries of 21st century living, and the show is therefore also a social experiment to see if man can recapture his primeval instincts.[7]

According to Channel 4, an island that has the natural resources necessary for the men to survive a month was chosen. Additional yuca plants were planted in order to supplement the existing supply, extra animals indigenous to the islands such as caiman were also added, and a freshwater source was topped up before filming. The participants were given training about animals native to the island that are on the protected species list, and each received one day's survival training, including advice on how to catch and humanely kill caiman. The men were given machetes and knives, head torches, an initial one-day water supply, and an emergency medical kit. In addition, the participants had GPS spot trackers, and access to radio and satellite phone in case of emergency. In its first series, 13 men were placed in a remote Pacific island for a month. One of the men is a fully qualified doctor, three are trained cameramen and one a sound recordist, but all would live in exactly the same conditions as the rest.[8]

In the second series, following complaints about the absence of women in the first series, two groups, 14 men and 14 women, were left on two separate islands.[4] The women were left on the same island as in the first series Isla Gibraleón, while the men were left on another island in the same archipelago, Isla San Telmo. This series was filmed in the rainy season which presented additional challenges. The participants were given two days survival training and they were required to survive by themselves on the islands for 6 weeks. The men and women were featured on separate episodes on consecutive nights each week.


The first series was filmed on an uninhabited Pacific island, Isla Gibraleón, which is one of the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama.[9] The island has an 8-kilometre (5.0-mile) coastline, 5 beaches, a mangrove swamp, and is covered with jungle. The mangrove swamp is located on the east coast of the island where the men were dropped off, and the main sandy beach is on the west coast where the men set camp.

The second series used two islands in the same archipelago, Isla Gibraleón and Isla San Telmo.


Grace Dent of The Independent thought the show is interesting television as it is "an attempt to form a show around utterly normal, non-fame hungry, not particularly pretty, non-celeb males", but found the first episode to be "an hour of rather plotless bumbling and twig friction."[10] Euan Ferguson of The Observer expressed concern about the "producer selection" of mollycoddled males who might fail to cope with the wilds of the island, but thought that the participants might "make a fist of surviving, and confound a few lazy stereotypes", and that he was "semi-hooked".[11] Christopher Stevens of the Daily Mail thought that the series showed that "survival is a tough business when you’ve only got your wits and a sharpened stick to depend on."[12]

In the second series, Charlotte Runcie of The Daily Telegraph thought that watching people learning to "cooperate in extreme situations is always strangely compelling",[13] although Rupert Hawksley of the same paper felt that the second series, despite the presence of women, was "every bit as sexist" as the first series.[14] The participants' struggle with survival prompted joking references to Lord of the Flies.[15][16]


The show has been criticised as "sexist" by female survival experts for excluding women from the challenge. Lisa Fenton suggested that it "is sexism and it’s deeply rooted", and Ruth England expressed disappointment with Channel 4's decision as it "perpetuates the myth that women need to be taken care of", while Sarah Outen criticized the "male-oriented bias with adventure TV programmes".[17] In response, Bear Grylls denied that the show is sexist, and said that the series was intended as a study of masculinity of modern man and their struggles.[18] He also indicated he is interested in doing an all-women version and that he "can't wait to do modern women's struggles."[19]

The press also made claims about fakery in the show, that the water were supplied in the island by adding a rubber-lined pool and two caiman crocodiles were released on the island, and that some of the trained crew had experience of surviving in extreme environments in the wild.[20][21] Bear Grylls however rejected the claim about fakery, and said that it was necessary to make sure that there would be just enough resources to sustain the participants, and that caiman crocodiles were added to the island so that if the men were to kill them, the natural eco system would not be damaged.[22]

The killing of the caiman sparked a number of complaints to Ofcom.[23] A spokesman for PETA said that it showed "a deep ignorance of who animals are and a callous disregard for life", and that the ones who caught and tied up the animal "should be prosecuted". Ofcom however judged that the show did not break the rules.[24]

In the second series, there were further criticisms after it was revealed that crocodile killed by the men was not a caiman but a protected species American crocodile.[25] Channel 4 apologised for the error and said: "The relevant national environment agency are aware of the incident and have granted a licence to replace the animal which has now been done."[26]


The first series had an average figure of 3.1 million viewers per episode.[27] Episode viewing figures below from BARB but do not include Channel 4 +1.[28]

Series 1

Episode Airdate Total viewers
Weekly ranking
(for Channel 4)
1 5 May 2014 2.74 3
2 12 May 2014 2.69 2
3 19 May 2014 2.90 2
4 26 May 2014 2.36 1
5 2 June 2014 2.48 1
6 1.66 5

Series 2

Two episodes were broadcast each week. The Wednesday episode focused on men, the Thursday episode on women.

Episode Airdate Total viewers
Weekly ranking
(for Channel 4)
1 8 April 2015 2.28 4
2 9 April 2015 2.67 3
3 15 April 2015 3.02 3
4 16 April 2015 3.18 2
5 22 April 2015
6 23 April 2015


  1. "Bear Grylls: 'There's nothing fake about The Island'". Daily Telegraph. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. "Bear Grylls series The Island renewed by Channel 4". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  3. Danny Walker (4 June 2014). "The Island With Bear Grylls: Channel 4 claim almost 40,000 people have applied for second series". Daily Mirror.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Theo Merz (8 Apr 2015). "Bear Grylls’ island: are the women tougher than the men?". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. Tom Eames (1 September 2014). "The Island with Bear Grylls to feature men and women in two shows". Digital Sply.
  6. Tom Ward (12 May 2014). "Bear Grylls talks masculinity on The Island, flesh-eating killer crocodiles and Harry Styles’ survival skills". GQ.
  7. Sam Rowe (1 May 2014). "Bear Grylls: 'Men want to know if they have what it takes'". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. "Terms of the Experiment". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014.
  9. "Mike Fletcher takes part in The Island with Bear Grylls reality TV show". York Press. 10 May 2014.
  10. "Grace Dent on TV: The Island with Bear Grylls was full of plotless bumbling and twig friction". The Independent. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  11. Euan Ferguson (10 May 2014). "The Island With Bear Grylls; Blurred Lines; Billy Connolly's Big Send Off; 24 – review". The Observer.
  12. "Oh no! Now even desert islands have elf 'n' safety jobsworths: Christopher Stevens reviews last night's TV". Daily Mail. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  13. Charlotte Runcie (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls, Channel 4, review: 'strangely compelling'". The Daily Telegraph.
  14. Rupert Hawksley (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls is still sexist". The Daily Telegraph.
  15. Will Dean (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls, TV review: They'd be better off with a spa weekend". The Independent.
  16. Sam Wollaston (9 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls review – unlike the fire, the banter never dies". The Guardian.
  17. Choloe Hamilton (21 April 2014). "Women take on Bear Grylls over 'sexist' male-only desert island show". The Independent.
  18. Catriona Wightman (May 3, 2014). "The Island: Eight things we learned from Bear Grylls". Digital Spy.
  19. Jade Bremner (28 April 2014). "Bear Grylls: I want to do The Island with women". Radio Times.
  20. Claire Carter (16 May 2014). "Bear Grylls survival show accused of 'fakery'". The Telegraph.
  21. "Bear Grylls and the survival show fakes: Four of his reality TV contestants are professionals". Daily Mail. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  22. "The Island: Bear Grylls insists fake claims are untrue and says there is nothing set-up on survival series". Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  23. "Weekly Broadcast Report" (PDF). Ofcom.
  24. Dean Rousewell (Jun 2, 2014). "The Island crocodile killing scene did not breach Ofcom rules - despite 93 complaints". Daily Mirror.
  25. Jess Denham (22 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile". The Independent.
  26. James Leyfield (22 April 2015). "Bear Grylls' The Island bosses apologise after hungry contestants hunt and eat PROTECTED American crocodile". Daily Mirror.
  27. Ed Frankl (5 June 2014). "Outrage over enema scene in Bear Grylls reality show". Evening Standard.
  28. "Viewing data Top 30s [select appropriate week]". BARB. Retrieved 28 May 2014.

External links