Press Centre

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

  • Episode: 

    3 of 3

  • Title: 

    Bear Grylls
  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 19 Sep 2014
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 38 2014 : Sat 13 Sep - Fri 19 Sep
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

    Last in series
  • Amended: 

    Fri 19 Sep 2014
Piers Morgan returns to ITV with a seventh series of his hit biographical talk show. 
Filmed in front of a studio audience, each show is devoted to one guest, looking back over their personal lives and careers and including interviews with their friends, families and colleagues.
The interviews are intimate, in-depth and emotionally charged as Piers lays bare his subjects’ life stories over a revealing hour.
In this last show of the series Piers will be interviewing Bear Grylls as he reflects on his life and career as one of the most famous TV adventurers and all round action man. Bear talks to Piers about having to perform extreme survival challenges and opens up about serving in the military’s most elite force – the SAS, and his astounding ascent of Everest, at just 23. He also opens up to Piers about a freak parachuting accident, which nearly left him paralysed.
Bear spoke emotionally about his relationship with his late father as well as his experiences of becoming one of the youngest people to climb Mount Everest at the age of 23.
He also revealed:
- How he had been bullied at school.
- How he proposed to his now wife whilst naked, and how he sent a naked selfie to pal 
- Dermot O’Leary revealing more than he thought.
- His reaction to allegations of staging parts of his show.
Bear became very emotional having been shown a VT that featured footage of him with his late father Conservative Party politician Sir Michael Grylls.  He revealed that his father’s death was a shock to him.
Piers asked him how he’d heard that his father had died. 
Bear replied falteringly  “Gosh it’s amazing watching that [the VT].  That was lovely.   I was with Shara [his wife], we lived on a boat on the Thames. We still do and a policeman came, knocked at the door and . . . . “
He faltered as he took a deep breath and tried to compose himself.  “Oh dear . . . gosh” he stumbled as he appeared to hold back tears. “
Piers continued “You know its funny, people always say to me oh I know you make people cry on the show and I always say it would be extraordinary to me if people didn’t get emotional at precise moments like this.  You know, this was a father that you absolutely worshipped and loved and he did you, and to see those pictures, it must be emotional. I don’t think there’s anything surprising about you reacting like this.”
Bear continued “I think my sister’s right. You kind of definitely bottle stuff and put a lid on it and actually I hadn’t seen a lot of that footage  . . . “  He took another deep breath.
Piers continued and said  “What kind of man was he?”  At that point, Bear interrupted the interview and said “Let’s just grab a minute.  Sorry.”
“Everyone will understand, take as long as you like” said Piers.
Bear got up out of his chair and stood with his back to the audience while he sipped from a glass of water and composed himself. 
Happier he said “Don’t worry, we’re going to come back hitting after this. It’s going to be good.   OK thank you.”  He sat back down and continued to explain.
“Yes this policeman saying this is what’s happened, and just a shock because he’d [Bear’s father] had a pacemaker fitted a few days before. I remember going to the hospital and I’d never seen my dad scared and I just remember seeing his lower lip wobbling. I said I’ll come into the operation with you, and he said the doctor won’t let you and it’s the only time I’ve actually showed my sort of SAS card and pulled it and said I need to be in there during that operation. You know it all went good. We came out and he was so grateful I was there and I thought great, and I went off home. Two days later you know he was at home recovering and he was in bed and bam, you know. It’s a while ago now, it’s crazy but it’s still very raw.”
He continued “Yes it’s just very raw. I think it’s raw. The one [image] that killed me, is seeing him with me you know in the little boat and stuff because I do that with my three boys and it’s funny because they look so like him and so like I did at that age, and it’s exactly what I do with them and I just know he would be so, he’d love that with them.”
“He just really encouraged me to love something and when he saw that I loved to climb, to do that with him, he really encouraged that. That’s why that Everest dream became such a dream of ours together. He got me a poster of it and I’d go one day I’m going to climb this mountain. It was a real shared dream.”
Piers asked Bear what he thought his father would be most proud of.  Bear replied “Our boys [his three children Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry], and the fact that I’m still married to Shara. “
Bear continued “Genuinely you know, I think the other stuff is so transient really. You know people go ‘oh you climbed to the top of this, you served with that’ and you’re always much more interested in things like the SAS and Everest than I am 
to be honest. You know it’s part of my history, I’m super proud of it, I’m proud of the relationships but the pride in my life isn’t that stuff. It really isn’t, you know. The pride is my family.”
Earlier Bear had explained how going to Prep School was so hard for him.  “I remember him dropping me off and him being in floods of tears, I’d be in floods of tears, my mum would be in floods of tears and they’d be gone and I’d think what part of this is right?  It was definitely hard.  That’s why the time I had back with him was amazing and that closeness and my dad was so important at that age.”
Bear talked about being one of the youngest people ever to climb Everest following an accident where he’d broken his back.
Piers asked Bear “You dreamed of climbing Everest, let’s talk about Everest because it was an extraordinary achievement to be the youngest Briton ever to climb that remarkable mountain. When you told your parents you were going to do this, I can imagine from what we now know your dad was like go for it, your mum was like what the hell are you doing, Bear?”
Bear replied “Well it was a difficult decision for me. It was a difficult decision I think especially for my family because I’d broken my back in this freefall accident like a year earlier. They lived through all the stress of me being in this military rehab centre at Headley Court, having to leave the army, being unable to move, being strapped up in braces, doctors not knowing if I was going to be able to walk again properly and you know, and they had been through such kind of trauma really alongside me of which I kind of felt guilty about in a way.  But for me I was desperate for that identity again that this was what I could do and I will walk again, I will climb again and I need that focus. That Everest poster that had been on my bed from such a young age became the whole focus of that recovery.”
He continued “ I think my mum is the unsung hero a lot in these stories. She’s been incredible, you know huge support and you know she’s been through it and it’s never easy for the mother. She said to my dad at the time, if you let him go to Everest and he dies, we’re over, we’re done.”
Piers commented “One in six climbers on Everest at that time in that period lost their lives. That’s a big percentage of people dying on that mountain?”
Bear revealed “We had four climbers lose their lives up there, two died of the cold, two fell and you see the harsh real side of high altitude mountaineering and it was ugly and frightening and horrible.  A lot happened up there. You know I almost lost my life down a deep crevasse early on in the expedition. I should have been killed by a big avalanche that whisked past us by a fraction. The truth is I reached that summit by the skin of my teeth and got away with my life where others didn’t but came away very, actually humbled and in some ways less confident than I went. You know I went like going I can do this and I came back thinking flipping nora, I’ve been lucky here. I remember speaking to my dad when we got off at the very end of it. He’s gone every faltering step of the way together with me on that mountain and I knew he’d would of loved, well he did share it with me up there. One of my greatest prouds of my life was he [his father] was alive to see me do that, you know and we did it together.”
Bear talked about his schooldays and revealed that he had experienced bullying.
Bear told Piers “We had a guy there who was, you know who will remain nameless but who was incredibly strong.  He had this fog horn and he used to [made a fog horn noise] and that was a sign that he was coming for us and he’d walk in and I remember one time, cowering in the cupboard with all my clothes you know and hearing the door fly open. And it’s like, shaking in there, the door opening and just grabbing me.  He’d just literally throw us around, I’d get pinned against this and just beaten up really.”
Bear also revealed that he had once had a run in with some local boys whilst in his school uniform in local town Windsor.
He said “We’d once a week be allowed across the bridge into Windsor and you were allowed to go to either Pizza Hut or McDonalds and I remember you know being there and I went down to the loos downstairs and went there, had a pee, turned around and – you know there were these three big guys there. They pushed me against the wall and they were then just discussing what they were going to do to me. I’d just survived getting beaten up the other side of the bridge back at school and suddenly I was like in the loos at McDonalds thinking I’ve really got to sign up for these karate lessons, but they pushed me against the wall and they were going yeah we’re going to stove his head in, we’re going to do that and I was thinking OK I’ve been through worse, I can cope with this.”
“And then they went – no I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, we’re going to shave his pubes. I remember thinking I haven’t got any pubes!”
“I thought I could deal with the odd punch and so on, I can deal with that but the humiliation of me showing – and at that point I thought go hard, go fast and I literally went bosh and dived in and pushed them aside, burst out the door, sprinted out of there and learnt that valuable lesson that sometimes you’ve got to run!”
Bear revealed his love of stripping off.
He told Piers “If there’s a substantial body of water around and nobody’s looking, I’m often quite tempted to strip off and dive in. 
But Piers retorted “I’ve got three words for you, nude piano playing.”
Bear said “Yes that’s been known to do as well after you know a late night with friends on the piano.  We’ve all been known to be naked, yeah.”
Piers replied “When we asked Dermot O’Leary, your friend, about your love of being naked, he said that you have sent him and his wife a naked photograph of yourself recently.”
Bear revealed “I think he, he texted me going where are you at the moment? And I sent him a picture of me doing a sort of ... [Piers interrupted and showed Bear and the audience a picture of Bear diving naked off a rock].”  Bear explained “We own this little island in north Wales and there’s a great cliff jump into the sea and I do this every morning to be honest when I’m up there and before anyone’s out. “
“But the thing is with this photograph, I looked at it on my iphone and when I texted it looked fine, sent it to him. And actually if you do blow it up, you can just see the end of what I didn’t realise was visible so – yes, that’s the danger of small screens on iphones.”
“Can I say it was an incredibly cold winter’s day a week ago” he added laughing.
He revealed how he proposed to his now wife Shara whilst naked.
He joked “Well I was swimming with no clothes on. I pulled out the ring from my butt cheeks.  [Laughing] I remember kneeling on the beach like this. She was standing there going what are you doing? She was in a towel and a massive Atlantic roller came and I went, will you – and it went – took me up the beach. I had all the seaweed and I was spinning around, so I tried it again and, and in this sort of moment of heavy sedation she said yes.”
He explained what really happened around allegations of him staging parts of his survival shows.
Piers quizzed him “Its a tough thing isn’t it for someone to call you a cheat. When all this blew up, how did you react to that?”
Bear replied “It was definitely hard. I’d had very little exposure to press stuff really. I’d done a few interviews and suddenly it was everywhere and my instinct was to come out and go no no, it’s not like that I’ll tell you the real story, come with me and come filming and we’ll show you.”
Bear admitted “There was substance to that one allegation about a hotel and I had done that for a night. You know I wanted to explain the situation but they didn’t really want the truth, they wanted the headlines. The truth was we’d been away filming all over the world in Borneo and Alaska, all these places, and Marmaduke, our middle son had just been born so it was eight years ago now and suddenly we were filming back in Scotland. I thought absolutely heaven, brilliant with the family so I said to them come on up. They came up, we spent a night in a B&B together it was brilliant, didn’t think anything more of it and like two years later I woke up one morning and suddenly this had come out. I really regret that but it’s not my first mistake, it’s not my last mistake and I think I had to develop fast, you know broad shoulders for this, but it was a baptism by fire into the negative media side.”
Piers asked him is he would do anything differently.
“You know I would have . . . two things differently.  One, I wouldn’t have stayed in that B&B in Scotland with the family.  Heaven as it was to stay with them, I would have been smart and go that’s going to come back to haunt you which it did.  And secondly I would have done what they did after all of this scandal which was . . . put a disclaimer art the front saying don’t do anything like this at him, you know scenes are presented to Bear to show you how to stay alive.’
Piers asked him if he could kill him with his bare hands and Bear talked about fitness and getting older.
Bear replied “Its not always about killing someone.  It’s about incapacitating someone – incapacitating a threat and you can do that with very little effort.”
[I’d] probably not kill you but you wouldn’t work for a week.”
Bear admitted that he had to work hard at his fitness.
“The truth is that I’m not a natural athlete.  I am fit but I work very hard at it.  I do to a gym but I work out in quite an unconventional way.”
Later he added “It definitely gets harder as the years go on.  You hurt more and old injuries like my back hurt more but I love this quote that says ‘I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life in a perfectly preserved body; I want to come in screaming battered and blue but screaming yahoo what a ride!’”
He said that he lived a clean life.  “I used to chase girls and get them into bed.  Sadly not a lot.  It wasn’t through lack of trying.  It’s always been my strength – effort.”
He also repeated some advice that his father had given to him.  “My dad used to say you’ve got to follow your dreams and look after your friends along the way and that was life in a nutshell for me and I try to say the same things to them [his sons].  It’s just they’re not allowed to climb Everest with a one in six chance of not coming home!  But I want to say to my kids go for it!”