TODAY   |  July 08, 2013

Bear Grylls: New show tests ‘character, determination’

The survival expert talks about his new reality show, “Get Out Alive,” which he says is not about who finishes the competition first but about character, determination, and humility in the face of adversity.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> with famed survivalist and adventurer, bear grylls , hosting a new reality competition on nbc called "get out alive" and a brand-new book, "survival guide for life." bear, good to see you. always fun to have you here, especially when you don't have worms or grubs or anything in your pockets to share with me.

>> i was going to say, you scrub up well. last time i saw you, you were in full mountaineering gear in a snow cave at 12,000 feet. i didn't know you wore a suit.

>> in switzerland. it was cool. this show, i was reading last night, although it is an adventure competition type show, it's not about who finishes first.

>> no. it's get out alive is not kind of a test of physical fitness and who is the best and the strongest. it's a much more character factory. and the wild revealing character. and, you know, i'm looking for people's journey and their growth and their effort. and all their kind of qualities that really help people survive. which is as much about humility and determination as it is about knowing everything. because these guys didn't know everything.

>> so, wait. in other words, you put a team on the edge of a cliff, and it's not who gets to the top of that first. it's who shows the most determination and character and grit in achieving the goal.

>> totally. and there were couples, so it was father/son, mother/daughter, best friends , loved ones and i wanted to see those helping the weakest, carrying each other's packs. that's what this whole "get out alive" is about. sometimes you need to push people to see what they're really made.

>> as we are looking at the footage, it's clear, you shot this in a stunning location, south island of new zealand . talk about some of the challenges. what did you put in front of these people?

>> well, new zealand was great, because we had such a variety of terrain. and you've been there. you know what it's like. we have the high mountains and glaciers and rain forests and crazy weather. and you know, the whole series about putting people under the squeeze and seeing what they're made. and some people crumble and some people thrive. and i always said, don't impress me with your words, impress me with your actions. and sometimes you need to take people big places like that to see that.

>> if we can rerack that last tape, i want to get to that. if you look at some of the terrain you place these people on, the edge of a cliff, glacier, icy- cold river . there is one thing called entertainment, another thing called sheer danger. and as you're producing a show like this, how do you draw the line about what you can and can't have these people do?

>> well, it's a balance. and i think the journeys grow. and at the start, they were, okay. and as these guys learn their skills and i could see they were capable of it, we extended the journey, pushed them a little bit more. but i said to them at the start, listen, you're coming to a big boys ' playground, big boys ' rules, i'm not going to mother you. i'm going to be with you. i'm going to back away. i'm going to see you how to do this. and that really was the appeal of the whole series, seeing these people who didn't know it all learn fast. and when you have to learn, you do. or you die.

>> which is a little bit like playing off the book you have just written, as well. it's about these survival skills and how to make it in life. and i would imagine it would have been great if they could have read that book before they took off on this journey.

>> well, the book is all about just lessons i've learned about life and by getting stuff wrong is the honest answer. but there are lessons from everest and my military time and how to come alive in the big moments and get your goals and not listen to the dream-stealers. and be enthusiastic and all that kind of good stuff about not giving up when it's -- you know, smiling when it's raining. and all of this stuff we know, common sense, but nobody teaches in school.

>> sounds great. the show sounds great, as well. bear, good to see you, as always.

>> matt, pleasure.

>> pleasure. you can catch the series premier of "get out alive" with bear grylls tonight, 9:00, 8:00 central time right here on nbc.