The Island with Bear Grylls

The Island with Bear Grylls is a British reality television programme which premiered on Channel 4 on 5 May 2014 and ran for five series, plus a renamed sixth series and a spin-off series. Narrated by Bear Grylls, participants in the show are placed on remote uninhabited Pacific islands as a test of their survival skills. They are left completely alone, filming themselves, with only the clothes they are wearing and some basic tools and training.[1]

The Island with Bear Grylls
The Island with Bear Grylls titlecard.jpg
Also known asTreasure Island with Bear Grylls
StarringBear Grylls
Narrated byBear Grylls
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series6
No. of episodes38 (as of 30 April 2018)
Executive producersBear Grylls
Ben Mitchell
Delbert Shoopman
Tim Whitwell
Production locationsIsla Gibraleón, Isla San Telmo and Isla Bayoneta, Pearl Islands, Panama
Running time60 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production companiesShine TV
Bear Grylls Ventures
DistributorEndemol Shine UK
Original networkChannel 4
Original release5 May 2014 (2014-05-05) –
6 October 2019 (2019-10-06)
RelatedCelebrity Island with Bear Grylls
Surviving The Island with Bear Grylls

Initially pitched as an assessment of the capabilities of British men in the 21st century, the first series (2014) featured 13 male participants. Following accusations of sexism, the second series (2015) used two islands, with 14 women on one, and 14 men on the other. The third series (2016) continued the gender divide theme and featured eight men and eight women abandoned on opposite sides of a single island. The fourth series (2017) focused primarily on age rather than gender and featured initially separate tribes of older (30 to 66 year-old) people vs. younger people (18 to 30 years old). The fifth series (2018) involved people from different social classes based on their yearly salary earnings.[2]

The sixth series, now renamed Treasure Island with Bear Grylls, started airing on 8 September 2019. This series is the first to involve cash prizes, dropped from air to the island for the participants to find.[3] A celebrity spin off version, Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, was first broadcast as part of a charity campaign for Stand Up to Cancer UK in September 2016.[4][5]

On 22 September 2019, Channel 4 confirmed that The Island would not return for a seventh series in 2020.[6] The seventh series was due to be filmed and aired in 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the civilian and celebrity series would not return for 2021.[7]


Bear Grylls is the survivor celebrity face behind the franchise.

In promoting the first series, the show was pitched as a challenge for modern men, to see if they can survive when marooned on a Pacific island armed only with minimal tools and their own initiative.[8] According to Bear Grylls, masculinity (and machismo) is in crisis, and he is interested if men can survive after being stripped of the luxuries of 21st-century living; the show is therefore also a social experiment to see if man can recapture his primeval instincts.[9]

In the second series, following complaints about the absence of women in the first series, two groups, 14 men and 14 women, were left on two separate islands.[10][11] In the third series, two groups of eight men and eight women were left at opposite ends of the same island, with neither group knowing of the other's presence.[12] In the fourth series, there were two sets of participants of different age groups, while in the fifth series, the two groups were of different income levels.[13] The sixth series features money dropped onto the island for participants to find in order to examine the effect of money in a survival situation.[14]

For the first series, the participants had to survive for one month. For the second series, this was extended to six weeks. The participants stayed on the island for five weeks in the fifth series, and cash prize was introduced.



The first series was filmed on an uninhabited Pacific island, Isla Gibraleón, which is one of the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama.[15] The island has an 8-kilometre (5.0-mile) coastline, five beaches, a mangrove swamp, and is covered with jungle. The mangrove swamp is located on the east coast of the island where the men were dropped off, and the main sandy beach is on the west coast where the men set camp.

The second series used two islands in the same archipelago, the women reusing the island from the first series, Isla Gibraleón, while the men were allocated Isla San Telmo. This series was filmed in the rainy season which presented additional challenges. Isla San Telmo was again used in the third series.[16] In the fourth series, a larger island, Isla Bayoneta, and a smaller neighbouring island, close enough to reach at low tide, were used for two sets of participants of different age groups. In the fifth series, the two teams were left to survive again on Isla Gibraleón. The sixth series (Treasure Island) features Isla Bayoneta once again.

Resources and trainingEdit

According to Channel 4, an island that has the natural resources necessary for the men to survive a month was chosen. Additional yuca plants were planted in order to supplement the existing supply, extra animals indigenous to the islands such as caiman were also added, and a fresh water source was topped up before filming. The participants were given training about animals native to the island that are on the protected species list, and each received one day's survival training, including advice on how to catch and humanely kill caiman. The men were given machetes and knives, head torches, an initial one-day water supply, and an emergency medical kit. In addition, the participants had GPS spot trackers, and access to radio and satellite phone in case of an emergency.[17] The second series participants were given two days survival training.


Allegations of fakeryEdit

The press made claims about fakery in the show, for its first series, saying that the water was supplied on the island by adding a rubber-lined pool, and two caiman crocodiles were released on the island, and that some of the trained crew had experience of surviving in extreme environments in the wild.[18] Grylls, however, rejected the claims, and said that it was necessary to make sure that there would be just enough resources to sustain the participants, and that caiman crocodiles were added to the island so that if the men or women were to kill them, the natural ecosystem would not be damaged.[19]

Sexism claimEdit

The first series was criticised as "sexist" by female survival experts for excluding women from the challenge. Lisa Fenton suggested that it was "sexism and it's deeply rooted", and Ruth England expressed disappointment with Channel 4's decision as it "perpetuates the myth that women need to be taken care of", while Sarah Outen criticised the "male-oriented bias with adventure TV programmes".[20] In response, Bear Grylls denied that the show was sexist, and said that the series was intended as a study of masculinity of modern man and their struggles.[21] He then indicated an interest in doing an all-women version and that he "can't wait to do modern women's struggles."[22]

Rupert Hawksley of The Daily Telegraph felt that the second series, despite the presence of women, was "every bit as sexist" as the first series.,[23] saying the sexes were needlessly segregated and stereotypes allowed to flourish.

Use of wildlifeEdit

The killing of the caiman in the first series sparked a number of complaints to Ofcom, a British government agency.[24] A spokesman for PETA said that it showed "a deep ignorance of who animals are and a callous disregard for life", and that the ones who caught and tied up the animal "should be prosecuted". Ofcom however judged that the show did not break the rules.[25]

In the second series, there were further criticisms after it was revealed that a crocodile killed by the men was not a caiman but a protected species: the American crocodile.[26] Channel 4 apologised for the error and said: "The relevant national environment agency are aware of the incident and have granted a license to replace the animal which has now been done."[27] The second series elicited more than 600 complaints from viewers (450 to Channel 4, 185 to Ofcom); most of the complainants accused the show of "killing animals to boost ratings".[28]



Grace Dent of The Independent thought the show is interesting television as it is "an attempt to form a show around utterly normal, non-fame hungry, not particularly pretty, non-celeb males", but found the first episode to be "an hour of rather plotless bumbling and twig friction."[29] Euan Ferguson of The Observer expressed concern about the "producer selection" of mollycoddled males who might fail to cope with the wilds of the island, but thought that the participants might "make a fist of surviving, and confound a few lazy stereotypes", and that he was "semi-hooked".[30]

Regarding the second series, Charlotte Runcie of The Daily Telegraph thought that watching people learning to "cooperate in extreme situations is always strangely compelling."[31] The participants' struggle with survival prompted joking references to Lord of the Flies.[32][33]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The first series was nominated in the Reality & Constructed Factual category in the 2015 British Academy Television Awards and won.[34]

Year Award Category Recipient Results Ref.
2015 RTS Programme Awards Popular, Factual and Features The Island with Bear Grylls Won [35]
BAFTA TV Awards Reality & Constructed Factual Won [34]


The first series had an average figure of 3.1 million viewers per episode.[36] The average viewing figure for the second series was 2.9 million.[37]

Series overviewEdit

Series Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 6 5 May 2014 2 June 2014
2 13 8 April 2015 21 May 2015
3 7 28 March 2016 3 May 2016
4 6 23 April 2017 14 May 2017
5[2] 6 2 April 2018 1 May 2018
6[38] 6 8 September 2019 6 October 2019


Episode viewing figures below from BARB but do not include Channel 4 +1.[39] Ratings starting 2019 give total viewing figures including all platforms.[40]

Series 1 (2014)Edit

The first series was first broadcast on Monday nights.

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[39]
11Episode 15 May 2014 (2014-05-05)2.74
22Episode 212 May 2014 (2014-05-12)2.69
33Episode 319 May 2014 (2014-05-19)2.90
44Episode 426 May 2014 (2014-05-26)2.36
55Episode 52 June 2014 (2014-06-02)2.48
66Surviving the Island2 June 2014 (2014-06-02)1.66

Series 2 (2015)Edit

On 23 May 2014, it was announced that The Island had been recommissioned for a second series to air in 2015.[41] In the second series, the men and women were featured on separate episodes on consecutive nights each week. Two episodes were broadcast each week – a Wednesday episode focused on the men's island, while the Thursday episode was for the women. Due to the United Kingdom general election on 7 May 2015, only the women's episode was shown that week, and the men's episode was pushed back a week. A final special episode, Surviving the Island, followed on 21 May. The competitors remained on the island for five weeks.

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[39]
71Episode 18 April 2015 (2015-04-08)2.28
82Episode 29 April 2015 (2015-04-09)2.28
93Episode 315 April 2015 (2015-04-15)3.02
104Episode 416 April 2015 (2015-04-16)3.18
115Episode 522 April 2015 (2015-04-22)2.86
126Episode 623 April 2015 (2015-04-23)3.11
137Episode 729 April 2015 (2015-04-29)2.90
148Episode 830 April 2015 (2015-04-30)2.68
159Episode 96 May 2015 (2015-05-06)2.95
1610Episode 1013 May 2015 (2015-05-13)3.08
1711Episode 1114 May 2015 (2015-05-14)3.01
1812Episode 1220 May 2015 (2015-05-20)2.80
1913Surviving the Island21 May 2015 (2015-05-21)1.99

Series 3 (2016)Edit

The third series was broadcast on Monday nights, a return to the scheduling of the first series.

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[39]
201Episode 128 March 2016 (2016-03-28)3.33
212Episode 24 April 2016 (2016-04-04)2.93
223Episode 311 April 2016 (2016-04-11)2.90
234Episode 418 April 2016 (2016-04-18)2.72
245Episode 525 April 2016 (2016-04-25)2.78
256Episode 62 May 2016 (2016-05-02)2.35
267Surviving the Island3 May 2016 (2016-05-03)1.32

Series 4 (2017)Edit

The fourth series was broadcast from 23 April 2017.

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[39]
271Episode 123 April 2017 (2017-04-23)2.46
282Episode 224 April 2017 (2017-04-24)1.91
293Episode 31 May 2017 (2017-05-01)2.35
304Episode 48 May 2017 (2017-05-08)2.06
315Episode 514 May 2017 (2017-05-14)1.92
326Surviving the Island14 May 2017 (2017-05-14)1.29

Series 5 (2018)Edit

The fifth series was broadcast from 2 April 2018. It took largely the same format as the fourth series with two different groups of people. However, the groups were made up of high-earning people (with an average salary of more than £100,000) and low-earning people (each with a salary lower than the UK national average).

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[39]
331Episode 12 April 2018 (2018-04-02)2.93
342Episode 29 April 2018 (2018-04-09)2.64
353Episode 316 April 2018 (2018-04-16)2.50
364Episode 423 April 2018 (2018-04-23)2.63
375Episode 530 April 2018 (2018-04-30)2.58
386Surviving the Island1 May 2018 (2018-05-01)1.17

Series 6: Treasure Island with Bear Grylls (2019)Edit

On 1 May 2018, it was confirmed at the end of the fifth series that The Island would return for a sixth series, set to air on 8 September 2019.[42] It was confirmed in February 2019 that for the first time there would be a winners cash prize and that the islanders will be against each other. It was also confirmed that the show will be renamed Treasure Island with Bear Grylls.[43] In the course of series, £100,000 were parachuted from air to the island for the participants to find. Episode 44 'Surviving Treasure Island' was the last ever episode to air.

Total No. Title Original air date UK viewers[40]
391Episode 18 September 2019 (2019-09-08)1.99
402Episode 215 September 2019 (2019-09-15)2.04
413Episode 322 September 2019 (2019-09-22)1.77
424Episode 429 September 2019 (2019-09-29)1.76
435Episode 56 October 2019 (2019-10-06)1.98
446Surviving Treasure Island6 October 2019 (2019-10-06)TBC

Celebrity Island with Bear GryllsEdit

A celebrity version of The Island was first broadcast as part of a charity campaign for Stand Up to Cancer UK in September 2016.[4][5] It was confirmed on 3 May 2017 that a second series of Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, which aired later in August 2017 and will be raising money for Stand Up to Cancer as the first series did.

There were three celebrity series which ran from 18 September 2016 to 7 October 2018.

It also ceased operations for good.

International adaptationsEdit

The American version of the show was announced on 28 January 2015,[44] and it premiered on 25 May 2015 on NBC.[45]

The Spanish adaptation of the show, titled La Isla, premiered on 17 May 2017 on laSexta.[46]

The Dutch adaption of the show, simply titled The Island premiered on 21 January 2016 on Net5.[47]

Furthermore there is a French, a Swedish and a Danish[48] version.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bear Grylls: 'There's nothing fake about The Island'". Daily Telegraph. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The Island with Bear Grylls Series 5 - here's how to apply!". 14 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Treasure Island with Bear Grylls: Press Pack". Channel 4. 3 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b[dead link]
  5. ^ a b Emma Daly (3 May 2016). "Dom Joly, Zoe Salmon and Ollie Locke sign up for celebrity The Island with Bear Grylls". Radio Times.
  6. ^ "Treasure Island with Bear Grylls | Channel 4". Archived from the original on 22 September 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  7. ^ Darvill, Josh (14 July 2020). "New series of Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls postponed due to coronavirus". Telly Mix.
  8. ^ Tom Ward (12 May 2014). "Bear Grylls talks masculinity on The Island, flesh-eating killer crocodiles and Harry Styles' survival skills". GQ.
  9. ^ Sam Rowe (1 May 2014). "Bear Grylls: 'Men want to know if they have what it takes'". The Daily Telegraph.
  10. ^ Theo Merz (8 April 2015). "Bear Grylls' island: are the women tougher than the men?". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. ^ Tom Eames (1 September 2014). "The Island with Bear Grylls to feature men and women in two shows". Digital Sply.
  12. ^ "The Island with Bear Grylls". All 4. Channel 4 Television. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  13. ^ "The Island with Bear Grylls 2018: Meet the two groups taking on the fierce battle for survival". Evening Standard.
  14. ^ Bond, Kimberley (3 September 2019). "When is Treasure Island with Bear Grylls on TV? Cast, filming location and what's changed this year". Radio Times.
  15. ^ "Mike Fletcher takes part in The Island with Bear Grylls reality TV show". York Press. 10 May 2014.
  16. ^ Phil Haigh (23 April 2017). "The Island with Bear Grylls 2017 start date, TV channel and what to expect with show's new twist". Metro.
  17. ^ "Terms of the Experiment". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014.
  18. ^ Claire Carter (16 May 2014). "Bear Grylls survival show accused of 'fakery'". The Telegraph.
  19. ^ "The Island: Bear Grylls insists fake claims are untrue and says there is nothing set-up on survival series". Daily Mirror. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  20. ^ Choloe Hamilton (21 April 2014). "Women take on Bear Grylls over 'sexist' male-only desert island show". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  21. ^ Catriona Wightman (3 May 2014). "The Island: Eight things we learned from Bear Grylls". Digital Spy.
  22. ^ Jade Bremner (28 April 2014). "Bear Grylls: I want to do The Island with women". Radio Times.
  23. ^ Rupert Hawksley (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls is still sexist". The Daily Telegraph.
  24. ^ "Weekly Broadcast Report" (PDF). Ofcom.
  25. ^ Dean Rousewell (2 June 2014). "The Island crocodile killing scene did not breach Ofcom rules – despite 93 complaints". Daily Mirror.
  26. ^ Jess Denham (22 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  27. ^ James Leyfield (22 April 2015). "Bear Grylls' The Island bosses apologise after hungry contestants hunt and eat PROTECTED American crocodile". Daily Mirror.
  28. ^ Matilda Battersby (14 May 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls: More than 600 complaints are made about animal killings". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  29. ^ Grace Dent (9 May 2014). "Grace Dent on TV: The Island with Bear Grylls was full of plotless bumbling and twig friction". The Independent. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  30. ^ Euan Ferguson (10 May 2014). "The Island With Bear Grylls; Blurred Lines; Billy Connolly's Big Send Off; 24 – review". The Observer.
  31. ^ Charlotte Runcie (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls, Channel 4, review: 'strangely compelling'". The Daily Telegraph.
  32. ^ Will Dean (8 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls, TV review: They'd be better off with a spa weekend". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  33. ^ Sam Wollaston (9 April 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls review – unlike the fire, the banter never dies". The Guardian.
  34. ^ a b Denham, Jess (10 May 2015). "Baftas TV Awards 2015: Winners list in full - Marvellous and The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies win big as Cilla leaves empty-handed". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  35. ^ "Programme Awards 2013 - 2014: The Winners". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015.
  36. ^ Ed Frankl (5 June 2014). "Outrage over enema scene in Bear Grylls reality show". Evening Standard.
  37. ^ Mayer Nissim (15 May 2015). "The Island with Bear Grylls will return for a third series". Digital Spy.
  38. ^ "The Island with Bear Grylls Series 6 - here's how to apply!". 1 May 2018.
  39. ^ a b c d e f "Viewing data Top 30s [select appropriate week]". BARB. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  40. ^ a b "Four-screen dashboard". BARB.
  41. ^ "Bear Grylls series The Island renewed by Channel 4". Digital Spy. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  42. ^ The Island is back, and this time, there’s £100,000 at stake. 💰 #TreasureIsland with @BearGrylls starts Sunday 8th September at 9pm on @Channel4. 🌴
  43. ^ Channel 4 reveals new format for The Island with Bear Grylls
  44. ^ Peter White (28 January 2015). "NBC orders The Island with Bear Grylls remake". Broadcast.
  45. ^ Sara Bibel (28 April 2015). "NBC Reveals the Cast of New Reality Series 'The Island'". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015.
  46. ^ "LaSexta estrena La Isla, el reality de supervivencia conducido por Pedro García Aguado". Europa Press. 16 May 2017.
  48. ^ "DRTV - Øen".

External linksEdit