LOS ANGELES - Discovery Channel is airing re-edited versions of its reality series Man vs. Wild, acknowledging that elements of one of its most popular show were faked.
While the series claims that Wild star Bear Grylls braves the great outdoors, it emerged during the summer that he sometimes spent nights in a motel when he was depicted sleeping outside, or received off-camera assistance in constructing rafts or bridges that he was shown crafting alone.
Facing a public relations nightmare, Discovery was forced to acknowledge that "some episodes were not natural to the environment."
On Monday, following an exhaustive internal investigation, Discovery aired four consecutive episodes from the first season, accompanied by a disclaimer. Other clarifications came in the form of new voice-overs from Grylls and excisions of dubious footage.
Beginning with Monday's rebroadcasts, Wild will now feature a disclaimer that runs both in the introduction and in the middle of each episode that reads: "Bear Grylls is trained in extreme survival techniques. He and the crew receive support when they are in potentially life-threatening situations, as required by health and safety regulations. Professional advice should be always be sought before entering any dangerous environment."
In an episode set in the Scottish highlands, Grylls feasts on a rabbit he claims to have caught in a trap he set. But in the re-edited episode, the voice-over makes clear that his crew provides the rabbit for him.
"My trap didn't catch anything overnight, but I've been brought a rabbit to tell you what to do if you're luckier than me," Grylls says in the voice-over.
In another part of that episode, the location of one scene shot relatively close to civilization is specified as such.
An internal team at Discovery has been working around the clock in recent weeks scrutinizing the veracity of every second of the series. As of Monday, additional episodes scheduled to roll out during the next month were still being edited.
"If we found anything that wasn't natural to the environment, we have edited it out," a Discovery spokeswoman said.
For an episode in which Grylls travels to Mexico's Copper Canyon, a new voice-over clarifies that he is wearing a safety harness to descend a chasm. The original episode does not allude to any use of a harness; Grylls typically is depicted as traveling with just a few tools including a knife or flint.
In an episode set in Ecuador, a scene was removed that depicts Grylls going off to sleep in the forest because he in fact slept indoors that night. Another scene in the episode in which he is shown constructing a bamboo bridge now has a voice-over in which Grylls acknowledges that he received help on the project.
An episode set in the Florida Everglades features additional voice-over from Grylls explaining that a sleeping platform he erects above swampland also required assistance.
The new disclaimer also is posted on Discovery's Web home for Wild, and any online video featured on the site that was changed for broadcast also will be changed. The re-edited episodes will repeat numerous times in the coming weeks on TV as well.
Grylls already is in production on a second season of episodes, which are expected to be edited from the get-go to emphasize the role the Wild crew and outside experts play in the production.
Those episodes are set in Patagonia, Panama and Siberia. A fourth episode filmed at an unspecified location is being considered. Grylls also is expected to return next year to shoot a third season.
The second season of Wild will be preceded by a special, Bear's Everest, in which Grylls attempts to fly over the Himalayas.
- REUTERS/Hollywood Reporter