The usual pre-Christmas letters are starting to arrive in the office from ladies desperate to find something fresh for their hubbies or boyfriends this festive season.
“Dear Mr D,” they invariably ask. “What can I buy for the man who has everything?”
Well, ladies, this year the solution to your present-buying problems lies in just one name: Bear Grylls.
Bear Grylls is today’s top TV hero, and he’s well hard. So hard he makes Chuck Norris look like John Sergeant, and Lemmy out of Motörhead like Little Jimmy Osmond. He makes The Professionals look like The Amateurs, and Ray Mears (of whom more later) like Bill Oddie.
Bear Grylls came into the world with two great disadvantages: (a) his first name; and (b) his second. His natural survival instincts soon kicked in, though, and after an early life struggling against adversity he became the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest. A TV series followed and it, like he, is Born Survivor.
Without wishing to spoil the plot (although you could probably guess it), each programme sees Bear travelling to the world’s least hospitable regions, accompanied only by a director, a camera operator, a sound technician, a lighting gaffer, a key grip and quite probably a focus puller too.
On arrival in darkest Outer Whatsitland he sets out on foot with one aim in mind: eating the indigenous wildlife. Raw.
Such activities have earned him a place in the pantheon of TV heroes, especially among those viewers whose ideal evening’s entertainment doesn’t involve ballroom dancers with two left feet and aspiring Beyoncés with adenoids the size of Glasgow.
Success follows success, and Bear Grylls has even started his own online store selling outdoor gear – fleeces, waterproof jackets, thermal undies and the like, all emblazoned with his distinctive signature.
And now, in an exclusive deal with Mr Grylls, the Opinion desk can offer the presently perplexed woman-about-town a new range of Yuletide goodies for the hard man in her life: The Bear Grylls Festive Collection! Choose from:
Bear Grylls Tropical Socks
Look just like ordinary socks, but have special pockets filled with a thick slimy fluid which gradually oozes out into your shoes, giving you that authentic wading-through-mangrove-swamp experience as you stroll down to the shops.
Bear Grylls Matching Tie and Handkerchief
The tie unfolds into a 40ft abseiling line. The hanky is made of sandpaper. Available in practical, stain-concealing desert beige.
Bear Grylls Arctic Swim Set
An empty box, to commemorate Bear’s notorious naked televised dip in glacial meltwater.
Bear Grylls Aftershave
A classic fragrance inspired by the lifestyle of the man who drinks his own wee on telly.
Bear Grylls Scalextric
Two Land Rovers in zebra-stripe camouflage, one with a miniature plastic Bear in the driving seat, the other piloted by survival rival Ray Mears. Ray is kitted out in his trademark multi-pocketed combat jacket, Bear is stripped to the waist (as usual). This weight advantage can be evened up by putting Bear on the longer outside track. But he still wins. Every time.
Bear Grylls Electric Toothbrush
Powered by two car batteries, it comes with its own special abrasive paste to give your mouth that just-hiked-30-miles-through-the-Desert tingling freshness.
Bear Grylls Cookbook
Packed with recipes you wouldn’t really want to try at home, even if you had the ingredients. Raw snake, raw lemming, raw scorpion and raw gudgeon are among Bear’s signature dishes, and make this one of those cookery books that are good to read but tougher to digest.
And that’s it, ladies! Your present problems solved, thanks to TV’s Mister Survival.
More gift ideas next week: the Alistair Darling Investment Opportunity and the Gordon Ramsay English Dictionary. Watch this space.
This article first appeared in The Bath Chronicle on November 27 2008.