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Bear Grylls takes 'unsung heroes' adventuring in new show

By
Ben Hooper
Survival expert and TV host Bear Grylls (R) spoke to UPI about his new show on Facebook Watch, Face the Wild, and the unsung heroes who join him on the series, including Jonathon Blank (L), a former Recon Marine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Facebook Watch
Survival expert and TV host Bear Grylls (R) spoke to UPI about his new show on Facebook Watch, "Face the Wild," and the "unsung heroes" who join him on the series, including Jonathon Blank (L), a former Recon Marine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Facebook Watch

March 28 (UPI) -- Survival expert Bear Grylls says his latest project, Facebook Watch series Face the Wild, aims to "celebrate some unsung heroes."

Face the Wild, which streams its second episode Wednesday, bears some similarities to his other series, NBC's Running Wild with Bear Grylls. But this time the adventurer and former soldier is taking 10 of his Facebook fans along for the ride instead of well-known celebrities.

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"The difference with this new show is that I get to celebrate some unsung heroes who have inspired me and I know will move so many millions who see this," Grylls told UPI. "The 10 people I chose to adventure with were incredible -- they had all gone through so much but still had such a light in their lives. That was special to see."

Grylls' inspiring guests include Jonathon Blank, who appears in Wednesday's episode. Blank, a former Recon Marine, lost both of his legs in Afghanistan and reached out to Grylls as a means of challenging public perceptions of disability.

The 43-year-old Grylls, full name Edward Michael Grylls, served on the British Army from 1994 until 1997. He rose to international prominence when his first TV series, Man Vs. Wild, premiered in 2009.

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Grylls said his new show began to gestate when Facebook Watch approached him about doing a series based on the "stream of cool, inspiring, moving messages" he receives on Facebook every day. He said the people who contact him are often "asking to go on once-in-a-lifetime adventure -- either for them or someone they love."

"Facebook Watch approached me and asked would I consider a show where we respond to that demand. It was a dream one for me," Grylls said.

He said the show started with 100,000 messages from his fans, which were "whittled" down to "10 individuals whose stories were genuinely inspiring and who had an emotional or physical hardship they wished to overcome through an adventure together."

The famously unflappable adventurer said his guests aren't the only ones who need a little help overcoming their fears.

"Trust me, we all have these niggling fears," Grylls said. "When I was serving with the military, I fractured T8, T10 and T12 vertebrae in a free-fall parachuting accident in southern Africa, and ever since then I will always feel that fear when I'm about to jump or parachute during filming."

Grylls said he relies on the support of his crew members to encourage him "to face the fear once more."

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"You have to face fears head on, and understand that fear is there to sharpen us," he said.

The survival expert said his on-camera bravery doesn't tell the whole story, as he has "plenty of" fears in his everyday life.

"I get really nervous at cocktail parties or social situations where there seems like no escape route," he said.

Grylls said his off-camera adventures include working with youth as Britain's Chief Scout and visiting his family's island in Wales with his wife and three sons.

"It is where I love to spend time with the family and it always reminds me of all that really matters in life," he said.

He said the island offers its own wilderness adventures.

"We have no mains electricity or water and run everything totally off grid, but we love it. No cellphones, just us together," Grylls said. "The boys love the life, and it is so good to see them really grow up to understand the outdoors, the seas and waves, the cliffs and caves ... I get such a kick out of seeing them thrive in those adventure environments."

New episodes of Face the Wild stream Wednesdays on Facebook Watch.

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