Bear Grylls is already on TV’s survivalist A-list. But the British adventurer, 49, deserves more credit for his impressive mission send-offs for Hollywood stars.
At the end of Sunday’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge” (NatGeo 9 p.m. ET/PT) Grylls surprises Benedict Cumberbatch with a mission extraction aboard a British Royal Navy nuclear submarine that surfaced off Scotland’s Isle of Skye. It was positively James Bond-like.
Grylls, a former special forces soldier, acted cool telling the stunned Cumberbatch, “I did call in a favor with the British Royal Navy.”
But inside, Grylls was spiking the football.
“It was a very special moment, the best extraction we’ve done on any journey on any show of any season,” Grylls tells USA TODAY.
Here’s how he pulled off the nuclear submarine Uber lift and other highlights of “Running Wild” Season 8, which also features Bradley Cooper roughing it in the Wyoming Basin, Tatiana Maslany in Wyoming’s Laramie Mountains and Cynthia Erivo in Wales’ Brecon Beacons mountains.
There is no nuclear submarine ride-hailing app.
“It was hard,” Grylls says of the wrangling. As an Honorary Colonel in the Royal Marines, which is part of the Royal Navy, Grylls first worked his contacts.
“I put a call through to the head of the Navy and said, ‘Do you think they could ever help?'” Grylls says.
The request was sent through formal Ministry of Defense channels, Grylls says. It was ultimately authorized by the MOD and the British Royal Navy top brass (literally called the First Sea Lord).
“I never thought we’d get it. But the timing was right,” Grylls says, as a nuclear submarine was already heading to the area after a three-month patrol.
The team was given specific timing along with latitude and longitude points off the icy Scottish waters. Grylls had to show up bang on time or miss the ride, all while keeping the meeting a secret from Cumberbatch.
Following their two-day adventure camping on the frozen Isle of Skye, Grylls and Cumberbatch paddled off from shore on a canvas kayak.
“Benedict had no idea,” says Grylls. “He thought we were going to the mainland, but suddenly the Royal Marines showed up.”
The first fast patrol board picked the two up and sped them to the submarine surfacing location.
Cumberbatch, whose grandfather was a World War II submariner, grew emotional seeing the cutting-edge vessel arise. Grylls says the awe continued on board as the two were granted rare civilian access.
“It was great showing Benedict how these guys live, the reality of nuclear submarine life. These underwater patrols go on for months,” says Grylls. “It blew him away.”
Watch a clip of the show and read the original article from USA today here Benedict Cumberbatch Submarine