Friday 20 October 2017

The Island with Bear Grylls, tonight Channel 4 at 9 pm

The Island  with Bear Grylls, Channel 4, Monday

The Island with Bear Grylls
The Island with Bear Grylls

Paul Whitington

The adventurer's radical new reality survival show has already attracted the ire of feminists.

 

"Lord of the Flies meets Bear Grylls meets Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest", was how the shy and retiring Mr Grylls described this intriguing new reality show.

In it, a group of 12 hardy, or foolhardy, volunteers will be dropped by plane on a remote and deserted South Pacific island and left there for a month. With only the clothes on their backs and a kit of very basic tools, these would-be Robinson Crusoes will be expected to use ingenuity and resourcefulness to find ways of coping in a harsh environment. And because their basic rations of food and water will dwindle very quickly, they will also have to figure out how to hunt and gather enough food to stay alive and healthy.

"Man," Mr Grylls maintains, "has moved further and further from his hunter- gatherer origins. I want to find out what happens when you strip people of all the comforts of modern life – does 21st Century man still have it in him to fight for his survival?" Cue the Tarzan-like chest-beating. But according to his critics Bear isn't too interested in whether or not 21st Century women are up to the job.

The fact that no women are included in the challenge has not impressed female commentators, including seasoned explorer Sarah Outen, who recently rowed solo across the North Pacific.

"It's a pity," she says, "that Channel 4 have decided to have a male-only show as if somehow suggesting women couldn't cut it – or more probably, that women wouldn't make good TV."

Australian survival expert Lisa Fenton went further, calling the decision "inherently sexist". "It's fantastical and ridiculous," she said. "Women are every bit as cut out for this stuff as men."

So are women every bit as good as men when it comes to surviving in the wild? You won't find out on this show, which starts at 9pm on Monday.

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