A rescue team has posted an official complaint to television bosses over scenes in a recent programme featuring a renowned adventurer.
The Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation said last week’s episode of ITV’s Britain’s Biggest Adventures with Bear Grylls showed a total disregard for safety in the outdoors.
The rescue team’s chair Heather Eastwood has written to the channel expressing horror at some of the activities the star of the programme undertook.
Ms Eastwood said: “As chair of the local rescue team both myself and many of my fellow team members were horrified to see Bear Grylls show a total disregard for safety in the outdoors especially in relation to water and caving.
“Bear Grylls is Chief Scout and is an inspirational figure to many young people but both ITV and Bear Grylls himself have shown a total lack of responsibility by portraying some of the activities in the light that you choose to do.”
The programme, second in a series being currently screened, was set in the Yorkshire Dales and showed Bear Grylls abseiling down the 80m crag of Malham Cove, to meet climber Steve McClure half way up.
He is also seen examining algae at Gordale Scar and rescuing native crayfish in a Dales river.
But the two activities that concerned the CRO are when the adventurer tosses his rucksack into the water at Stainforth Force before performing a backflip into the water, and heading into the Long Churn cave system near Selside without basic equipment.
In 2000, Leeds teenagers Rochelle Cauvet and Hannah Black drowned in an incident during a school trip at Stainforth Beck, close to the scene at Stainforth Force.
And engineer Caroline Fletcher, 28, perished on her first trip underground in 2007 in Long Churn Cave when she drowned, along with her workmate Stuart Goodwill, 33, after heavy rain turned an underground stream into a torrent.
Before stepping into the cave system with no helmet or protective suit and with just a handtorch, Grylls says: “Water levels are rising. This adventure was about to put all our lives in danger.” The commentary said it had been raining non-stop for 24 hours.
The television star, his underground guide Phil Murphy and the film crew are seen to make a rushed exit from the cave. Bear Grylls says: “We’re in genuine danger of being swept away so, for safety, we have to switch the cameras off.
“All of us make it out just in time.”
The Cave Rescue Organisation chair said in her letter: “Climbing up waterfalls shows not only a total disregard for the environment but failed to mention the dangers of water in general let alone how that danger increases in waterfalls.
“For those of us who know the area in question we are well aware of the power and dangers of the water shown even in dry conditions and have had the misfortune of being involved in difficult rescues in those areas.
“As for your portrayal of caving and cave exploration I am struggling to express my horror.
“Caving is a fantastic adventure and is both exciting and challenging especially for young people. However it needs to be supervised and led by experienced and knowledgeable people who understand both the environmental and physical issues involved.
“To depict caving as something that you can just turn up and do is both irresponsible and dangerous. The fact the he had no safety equipment in the form of appropriate clothing, a helmet and a reliable hands-free torch which are a basic necessity in caving was an elementary mistake.
“Cold and dampness can quickly lead to hypothermia, a condition that can rapidly cloud judgement and lead to death. The lack of a helmet that not only protects your head from loose rocks that may fall but also from head injuries from slips trips and bumps.
“A lack of a hands-free torch means that if a torch is dropped, lost and or broken hazards can be missed. Caves – even Long Churns, (a well known ‘beginners cave’) can be complex with dangerous drops and unseen holes and people can become lost and disorientated.”
Britain’s Biggest Adventures with Bear Grylls is prefaced by a caption that reads: “In this show Bear Grylls undertakes a range of extreme activities. He is a trained professional, supported by an expert safety team.
“Do not attempt any of the dangerous activities in this show.”
The CRO chair added: “I and many of my colleagues feel that ITV has disregarded safety and commonsense in favour of sensationalising the activities to draw viewers, and would appeal to you in future to show a moral responsibly and depict and promote these activities in a safe and responsible manner.”
ITV had not responded to grough’s request for a comment at the time of posting.