The Series -Bear Gryhllis and The Island-some minor spoilers-was on in the UK recently on Channel 4 or number 104 on Virgin TV

So this is one episode in.  I planned to watch this as i am interested in such tales of survival.  There was that film based on a real life story of a American College student who dropped out to go live in the wilds of Alaska: i watched that.

 Then there was a fascinating Documentary on Current TV
 (now sadly disappeared which consisted solely of
documentaries made by its resident documentary makers plus those uploaded by others)

That Current TV documentary concerned a man also wandering the wilds of Alaska i believe, who had determined to survive for six weeks, feeding himself from the land.  Every day he filmed himself in his so called adventure which unfortunately became the story of multiple things going wrong and him slowly starving and going half bonkers in the process.  However refusing to acknowledge his temporary loss of sanity.

The adventurer in that documentary couldn’t help noticing his drastic weight loss.  He did have a pager and it was obvious that his wife back home was getting increasingly worried about him.

However the adventurer was just too damn stubborn to give up.  I probably would have been the same. Luckily he does pull the plug or rather buzz his pager for help before he expires.

Still, i digress.  That documentary did make for some fascinating and serious film of physical struggle and mental and physical deterioration.  The two being shown to be endemically and inextricably linked in his survival time period.

Pretending that i had a point to this story i could say that survival in the wild, though romantic sounding and wonderful:really isn’t that easy.

I know of Bear Gryhllis only by reputation of being an adventure and survival expert.

In reading about this show i see grumblings that women adventurers were not included along with accusations of sexism expressed in the press/ media. Bear Gryhllis replied to these accusations by saying that he wanted to test the survival abilities of:
“the modern British man” which seems fair enough.

The point seems to  me to me anyway, that none of the men are skilled adventurers or survivalists, being regular guys with a broad range of jobs.  The men have all had just one day of survival training.

 Nb.  I suppose to be really really fair and perhaps interesting the programme makers could have had a separate island of just women as a control group.  I am not sure women need to prove they can kill, cook and eat though and may well have been capable of doing same to each other but i digress.

Whether the women could make fire would have been an idea for comparison.

Really what these reality shows are about, much like Big Brother, as we all know. is waiting and wondering which one will crack up first.  Yep, who will lose it, his mind even, get in a deliciously scrumptious fight or even have an enjoyably spectacular breakdown.  its all about spotting out the person most likely to succumb.

Either who will go mad or who will be the most annoying character and will drive everybody else mad or insanely angry.  In a group mass bullying session.  All this and more.  Who will start to display odd and or obsessive compulsive habits, flaws or idiosyncrasies.  & so on.

Already, in true Lord of The Flies fashion, one if the men has found a giant blue plastic piggy on the beach. He introduces the piggy to the group.  As if this is a good sign.  It ain’t.

Just as there was, on the beech, by amazing and miraculous coincidence (along with the blue plastic piggy) useful twine and clean-ish metal Jerry cans with holes each side!  Just right for rigging with sticks to hang over the fire to boil the stagnant water the men so desperately need to drink.  Yum.  Not.

So yes, in spite of the explanations that copious amounts of random rubbish/ trash are:
“washed up on the beach from the ocean and including stuff thrown overboard by sailors on ships”
i think these particular items described were fairly obviously planted there.  D’ya think?!

The Island is engrossing and interesting.  As a character study of the men more than a tale for survival.  These programmes always are about that really: how the men will react to the complete loss of their comfort zone, their normal social or formal interactions and so on.  Who will crack and who won’t.  Who will be socially and or emotionally intelligent.  Surviving in that manner as well as attending to corporeal needs is just as important for the group.

The men really depend on each other.

There has been some tacky talk and the sad close-up death of a baby crocodile. Through the back of the head.  Knowing that the wee croc could easily instead be tearing off lumps of human flesh as it:
“death rolled” (in an ongoing all over slow body flip as it did so) did not entirely dissipate the sadness of his slaughter.

Yes, as Bear Gryhllis popped into our vision to tell us that:
“We have become divorced from the process oof killing, when we just buy prepared meat in a supermarket”.  Yep, we know.

Teaching moment alert.

I introduced some element of lightness into the scenario by simultaneously wondering whether the course of evolution of cayman Crocodiles on the Island had been irrevocably changed.  Since crocodiles, i reckoned, probably didn’t have too many babies and i couldn’t think of any other likely way for that baby croc to have died.

 I mean, who were the predators of crocodiles?  Hippos perhaps.  But there were no Hippos on the island.  It seemed quite momentarily amusing to wonder if a big, angry, Mommy crocodile might be coming the men’s way soon.

However word is that when Bear Gryhllis explains at the beginning that he:
Has made sure that there is plenty of food and sustenance” on the Island: this stretches to the programme makers having brought in the Baby crocodile especially for the show.  Fair enough.  We didn’t really want to see the men starve for real.

The Hairdresser guy is already looking alarmingly concave.

Any evolutionary concerns and any angry Mommy crocs are on another island somewhere.  Considering that crocodiles are truly prehistoric creatures, unchanged, it would suggest their predators are low in number.

The Island is hugely enjoyable.  Several of the men have taken to the experience like ducks to water.  Apparently the camera men and the sound man have experience in war zones.  That explains their generally more casual air

I watched a programme about psychopaths in which a Professor postulated that psychopaths were actually excellent companions to have in a disaster or emergency.  I found myself remembering this point when one of the men delineates the difference between him and the Doctor, Sam, who Rupert describes as:
“touchy feely”.

If not Rupert, there is at least one of the other men who i started to wonder might be a classically useful psychopath too.  Of course to truly survive as a tribe, they need both kinds of men: empathetic and non confrontational and the psychopath.  Also:the storyteller, the fire maker, the joker and so on.

The men have also usefully employed, several times now, their ancient survival senses of smell and taste.


So the last episode descended into scatological details that interrupted  my dinner as i gazed in shocked amazement.  More handy equipment having been found on the shore, on e poor soul was having a home-made enema.  We as  viewers are involuntarily instructed in said enema’s construction .  Plus application.

The rather sweet and touching after scene of this procedure was the sufferer involved, waving happily, and jumping intermittently up and down in joy, from the sea.  At some small distance from the shore.  Presumably lighter in every way.

Nb. There is a follow up show relating how the men have got on since returning home.  I may or may not watch.

Overall, although i suppose some official lessons as described in the filming, were learnt.  The young lad got a bit tougher, sun kissed and artfully plaited his long hair.  a look which i felt really rather suited him.

What other lessons were learnt for the older men: I am not quite so sure.  With one of the men I had wondered if he fulfilled the official criteria fro psychopath.  As per this programme on psychopaths i saw.  Apparently psychopaths are just the thing for this type of situation .

Certainly a balance of psychopathic with sociable and supposedly empathetic adventurers would be ideal.  If characteristics are as neatly divided as that. I doubt it.

Overall i felt that the island, in spite of its ongoing controversy about Bear Grhyllis and his crew putting the water and crocodiles and variously other supposedly random items on the beach, in spite of all this in retrospect for me the Island had been really rather serious.  Plus pretty extreme.

Th incidence of the enema told us that it had been proferred as a remedy after eight days.  The men were low level or semi-starving for three weeks pretty much. Not sure the filmed joyous fish catching, the one conquered baby cayman crocodile and the poor old injured pelican, came around that often.

Mostly the men were eating boiled snails.

Yes, I am sure they all learnt officially valuable lessons.  Not sure the point needed to be made in such a severe way. Possibly putting the men’s health at risk.  In my opinion.

The  young lad could have just gone out camping although he flourished beautifully under the combination of tough love an fathering.  Or Good Cop/ Bad Cop in essence.

The risk of social disintegration, as wisely pointed out by Bear Gryhllis, was just as much of a serious risk as starving.

Considering that in ancient tribes the social structure, protocol and individual jobs would have taken generations of history to transpire: the men all did admirably well to take on and essay their roles of fire maker, hunters, storyteller, joker and such like.

As far as helping the men to say, survive an apocalypse and survive, Walking Dead style, this might usefully apply in their case mainly if the men were stranded on a remote Cayman island in the pacific.


Some dialogue.
(some names maybe incorrect)

“This programme contains….throughout and features the capture and slaughter of an animal”

Bear Gryhillis:
“There is no doubt that twenty first century man has come a long way from his hunter gatherer origins.”

“”In Britain today we take food, shelter an warmth, for granted and most of us consume, rather than create”

Bear Ghryllis:
“I want to find out what happens when you strip man of all the luxuries and convenience of modern living and then force them to fight for their existence.”
he continues:
“Thirteen ordinary British men have been abandoned on a desert island with onl the clothes they stand up in and a few tools”

Bear Ghryllis:
“I really believe that deep within us all we still have that spirit to survive that can overcome even the toughest odds.”

“Three of the men are trained cameramen, but will be living under the same conditions as everyone else”
voice-over continues:
“Tony, 70 years old, retired Police Officer describes the first camp”.
“Let me tell yuou about the comforts here,”
“Its the morning, here we are, it looks like a war zone”..

Bear Ghryllis,.
“I have ensured the island has enough good and water to keep them alive..”
“But they do have to find it, catch it and kill it”..
he continues:
“Only if they have the ingenuity, which is no easy task as the island is covered with dense mangrove swamps which is full of poisonous plants and potentially deadly wildlife”.

Bear Gryhllis:
“If the men can’t find a safe source of food, they won’t have the energy to hunt and survive..”

“I did walk very far for once, with no shoes, that was very challenging..”

Sackie , Rupert and the baby Cayman crocodile.
This is so fucking Caymanville!”
“A few days ago, Sackie and Rupert could not have imagined..”
“I hope that cord holds!”..

Mike and Chris travail the beach for food.
“Got the figs back, going back to camp, not sure,think its about an hours walk..”
“Not sure whether we’re too late for this..”

“But now with approaching high tide the beach had disappeared..”
“Jumping the ravine..”
“Rupert has made it ahead of the others..”
(Nb. He has to throw the figs over the ravine and the lose some of them)
Rupert jumps.

On the beach.
“So its mid-day and the sun is at its zenith”
(he has gone all poetic-i like it)

“We staggered back, into camp and it was club 21/30, all flat on their backs doing fuck all”

“I have bitten my tongue so far long enough”
“There is certain people who just do nothing..”

Rupert’s brilliant speech.
“They come like little leeches with their bowl for food”
“and you know they don’t even have the decency to say thank you”
“And you think, you know what?”
“Your morals are about as low as a snakes belly”!

Rupert vents forth again. (hilariously)
(to young Ryan)
“That is how different we are”
“I cannot comprehend, how you could look down there
(the sun drenched beach)
“and think to yourself”,
“I wish i was at me Mum’s house,
“playing on me PlayStation”!
“It’s …fucking moronic,
isn’t it?”!
(he looks to camera)

Rupert on Craig.
The only thing wrong with his foot is the lazy body attached to it!”.
Rupert continues
“If he stayed here he would slowly kill himself through idleness..”

Rupert & Doctor Sam.
“Sam, me and him, disagree on pretty much everything.”
“He is all caring sharing, emotive, all that stuff”
“I think I am a little more hard nosed than Same, a little less forgiving..”

Rupert on Craig and Chris.
“Everybody here is sweating their asses off in the sun, or working,”
“Craig over there having a nice swim with Chris, like they’re in The Blue Lagoon and they’re on holiday.”

Voiceover on Rupert.
“Rupert moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career in film…”
Rupert:(in ghostly appearance)
“I hope to come out of this experience with a Zen like calmness”..

Rupert uses this Zen idea later when he questions Craig as to why Craig hasn’t gathered more fire-wood.
(as he was on firewood duty today)
“Why are you here?”
“No, really, why are you here?”!
In a truly existential way.

Sackie and the Yucca.
“Welcome to your first Yucca meal”
“Tonight, we eat like Royalty”
The men find a sting-ray.
(grinning to camera)
“Fish and chips for dinner”!”

Cameraman with grey white hair. (to camera)
“Wow,  it totally lifted spirits when they really needed lifting..”
“I think everyone was getting into survival slump really”..

The cameraman looks up and around then starts describing with his hands what he is saying:
“I think to survive in this environment..”
“It is waves of feast and famine..”
feast and famine“..
The cameraman draws waves in the air, his hands moving gracefully.
he continues:
“And today, we are having a feast!”
(he smiles)
(he is the storyteller)

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