Why Bear Grylls wants to be the next David Attenborough

He's the biggest brand in adventuring but now the former SAS trooper is exploring new TV territory - natural history

Valuing Brand Bear is an impossible task, given that much of the business is overseas, but Bear Grylls Ventures, which deals with merchandising in the UK, posted profits of £3.3m last year, according to Companies House filings, a 50-fold increase on five years ago. Aside from their Welsh bolthole, he and wife Shara have a small estate in Wiltshire, valued at well into seven figures, and a houseboat moored on the south bank of the Thames. Grylls says he has also just bought a place in the ongoing redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, where three-bedroom apartments go for around £2m.

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Despite that, Grylls says that he’s “very money unmotivated” and seeks succour instead in his family, health and faith. He’s one of a vanishingly small band of British celebrities who do God. “I really, desperately have learnt in my life that I need my faith, and I’m just not strong enough on my own. I try to start every day by kneeling down and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, I ain’t got it all right, and I’m nervous about today. I will give it my all, but will you help me?’ It’s never more complicated than that. I probably don’t go to church enough, but my faith is a quiet, strong backbone in my life, and the glue to our family.”

Grylls says that it has taken a while to “summon up the courage” to talk publicly about his faith, and that he understands that British audiences may find it slightly peculiar. He’s quick to add that he has “no problem at all with gay marriage”, and makes a distinction between personal faith and wider religious doctrine.

“I really struggle with religion just because it’s the source of so much conflict and disunity.” To Grylls, “The heart of Christianity is just about saying, ‘I need help, and will you be beside me?’ And I don’t think anyone has a problem with that. What they don’t want is religion – and I totally get that.”

Another major factor in Grylls’s wellbeing is his diet – he has given up wheat, dairy and sugar, and unsurprisingly, there is a Bear Grylls-branded cookbook in the pipeline. “As soon as I dropped wheat I felt less bloated, I got much, much trimmer,” he says, now tipping the scales at 78kg, or 12st 4lb in old money. “I’m fitter and stronger now than when I was younger,” he adds, and thanks to his frequent disrobing, those who watch Britain’s Biggest Adventures will have ample chance to verify it.

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Britain’s Biggest Adventures with Bear Grylls begins on ITV tonight (Tuesday 15 September) at 9pm