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Dec 17, 2015
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Survival expert Bear Grylls will be joined by US President Barack Obama for a special installment of the reality series Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

Scheduled to air on Discovery Channel across Asia Pacific on December 18 at 10 p.m., the episode will feature Obama and Grylls trekking through the Alaskan wilderness. Pareng Barack also wanted to observe the effects of climate change on the area.

Check out the teaser:

FHM had an exclusive chat with Bear Grylls himself, who opened up on the project's tedious preparation, a certain policy about filming Obama eating, and simply, the POTUS being awesome.


Can you talk a little bit about what was Obama's concern, what made him decide he wanted to do this?

They reached out to us. We were approached by the White House, saying would we consider taking the President on an adventure to Alaska. I almost didn't really believe it. When we started, I thought this was a spoof. But we got into it and we all came together. There are obviously quite a few hurdles along the way of trying to keep everyone happy including the whole Secret Service, presidential team, and all of that. We did it and it’s an episode I’m hugely proud of. Definitely this is the high point of our Running Wild journeys.


How involved were the Secret Service with this episode. And also, you mentioned some hurdles. What were some of those hurdles that you had to get through with them?

I think initially the Secret Service was quite wary because their one job was to keep him safe. So these sort of things are different for them and obviously, they wanted to make it as safe and straightforward for them.

Initially, there was quite a lot of pushback. It was just a process of talking about the routes that we wanted to do and really checking that route and talking through every stage of what I was going to do with Obama. Then we went through the process and casualty evacuation plans if somebody gets injured.

I thought initially they would have five or six Secret Service guys with us but that number ended up to around 50. It's a whole team—with the press corps and even a guy who was there to make sure any food or drink the President consumed was approved. So it's a big group to move around. We even had a helicopter [watching us] in the air.

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But once we got going, I obviously took the lead from him. And if he's fine to eat what I'm producing and share water bottles and climb up and down stuff and do things, well then, the Secret Service obviously will do the same.

At the end of the journey I was chatting with our team and they said, "Oh my goodness, it's different from what we thought we were going to be able to do when we first met them a week ago compared to actually what we've just filmed." It's like a chasm, you know, we’ve achieved so much here. So that's why it's exciting and it was really driven by the fact that the president was just willing to go for it. He trusted me to do my stuff and that I'd keep him safe and do my bit as well. That was kind of hard put to together.


How did you advise the president to prepare for this trek mentally and physically?

I think I was the one that needed the preparation. I think one of the things I learned is that he is incredibly confident diving into different situations. I said to him right after we just lit the fire, "Annoying president, you're good at everything. Normally people take hours doing this. You're just naturally good at it."

But I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. You got to be sharp and a quick learner and a good listener if you're president. So he didn't have any problems with that. Of anything, I really just want physicality and [for him] to get up and work hard. He was really ready for everything.

So all I said was [he should] come with the smallest team possible. We wanted them [the Secret Service] to trust us to look after the president once we're out there in the wild. We'll have fun. I think he's definitely had that sort of feel that he just wanted this to be a really fun day. That's why it was so lovely hearing him say at the end of the day that it'd been one of the best days of his presidency.


You mentioned that he had 50 people surrounding him and one of the was his "taster." Did that taster actually taste like everything that you prepared before Obama did?

I think he wanted to but he didn't, you know. He said to me, "What are you going to feed him?" I told him I'm going to try to find some fish on our way in. Then he showed me a platter of different fish that he had prepared. His plan was to take it out during the shoot, same thing with water and other "drinks." Then he asked, "Will you make him drink his pee?" I also found out that the president shouldn't be filmed while he's eating or drinking. I thought, "Oh gosh, it’ll be a nightmare." But we just went with it.

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During the journey, I saw this half-eaten salmon. I started cooking it while we're chatting. I gave him (Obama) a bit and he kind of looked [over his shoulder]. We also shared a water bottle and this tea I made out of the berries that we collected along the way. The president is a great guy. And yes, that was a funny process.


The special Obama episode of 
Running Wild with Bear Grylls airs tonight (December 18) at 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

Season 2 of this series will take Hollywood's biggest celebrities—Kate Winslet, Kate Hudson, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others—on a one-on-one adventure that will put their survival skills to the test. From the Nevada Desert to the Italian Alps to the Panama Jungle, Grylls and each celebrity will push both their minds and bodies to the limit in these extreme environments to successfully complete their journey. It premieres on January 5, 2016, at 9 p.m.

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