Ed Stafford's Survival Kit – 10 tips on coming out of a survival show alive
Ed Stafford, ex Army captain, adventurer and survivalist, is back on Discovery Channel doing what he does best – depriving his body of essential fluids and nutrients, cutting himself off from his loved ones and putting himself in ridiculously dangerous situations – all to test the boundaries of human resilience and to provide entertainment for us while we're sat on a sofa eating crisps and having a cheeky glass of wine.
We caught up with Ed to ask... not so much WHY as HOW we would endure the experience if we were to sign up for a survival show (...as if!)
Ed said: "So you’ve been plucked out of your normal job and given the opportunity to have your own survival show? Nice one - congratulations - here are 10 tips to help you 'survive' the show…"
10. DON'T WATCH YOUR WEIGHT BEFORE YOU GO
OK - so we’re all a bit vain and don’t like seeing our love handles transmitted to millions of viewers. But a bit of paunch will add to the dramatic weight loss you will experience over your time surviving. And the hero shots (glossy photos to promote the show) are always taken at the end when you’re as shredded as Bruce Lee’s pecs.
9. DON'T BINGE EAT EITHER
There is nothing worse than the sugar crash you get after force-feeding pasties into your gob to ensure you won’t waste away and then…. nothing. It's horrid. Really horrid. My advice is to eat normally beforehand and then rely on a quick natural transition from burning injected carbs to burning body fat.
Love handles... good – pastry binge... bad! (Discovery Channel)
8. PRACTISE YOUR HAND DRILL
So, I'm assuming you’ve mastered the 'floating' technique (opens in new tab) of making fire and you’ve relaxed and had some time off between shows. Then you come to film and realise that your hands are as soft as a baby’s bottom and you tear them up practising in the days before you start filming. I’ve done it - massive painful blisters - it’s a bushcraft schoolboy error. Get an ember going at least once a week - every week - to keep your hands hardened.
7. GO BAREFOOT - EVERYWHERE
OK, so your mates will call you a hippy in the pub, but it will be worth it. There is nothing worse than entering a remote environment and being crippled by your inability to move around because the soles of your feet are urban metrosexual soft. Methylated spirits is a bit of a myth in my books. Just take your shoes off - and crack on as normal.
6. GET A SHORT HAIRCUT
Possibly not so relevant if you’re female, but there is always a great, darkened stubble effect after 10 days or so in the wild and your face will look all the more dramatic if you go in with your hair freshly cropped and tidy as a schoolboy's.
5. GET A BASE SUNTAN
Vanity aside - with no sun cream up your sleeve you’re going to burn to a crisp if you’ve not become accustomed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. If you’re lucky enough to be dropped off in a place with coconuts then eat at least one whole coconut per day. The ingested oils will make your skin supple and resilient to the sun’s harsh rays. This works.
4. PRACTISE FILMING YOURSELF
The best advice I was ever given about filming your own show was to treat the camera like your best mate (who’s a bit stupid). Imagine you're explaining everything to Karl Pilkington. That way you’re immediately in colloquial mode, chatty and irreverent, and on familiar terms with the audience from the outset. And you have to explain everything because you can’t assume that 'Karl' knows anything about surviving.
3. PAY ANY OUTSTANDING BILLS
There is NOTHING worse than worrying about your house being repossessed when you’re in isolation and have no way of contacting the outside world. Sort out your personal domestic admin before you travel - and you can focus on the task at hand.
2. DON'T LEAVE HOME ON AN ARGUMENT
Tell your mum/wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter that you love them and send them a nice message before. Isolation can cause doubts and worries to creep in and so the fewer reasons you have to over-think a personal dispute or difficult relationship the better. So... you've sent some sweet messages to your dearest? Perfect - head to the gate, your plane is now boarding!
1. RELAX AND HAVE FUN
As obvious as this might seem, it's so difficult filming your own show and simply surviving that I often get stressed and forget to enjoy it. If this happens my delivery (how I come across on camera) suffers and the show simply isn’t as good. Take a deep breath, then let it out, and trust that you have been chosen because you have the skills required to get the job done. You are, quite literally, living the dream.
Marooned with Ed Stafford (opens in new tab) returns to Discovery Channel on Sunday, May 8 at 9pm. Ed travels to three remote new destinations, including the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and the tropical rainforest of Guatemala, armed only with a camera kit. He tries to survive in some of the planet's harshest environments while also filming himself. See how he gets on...
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.