Bear & Jonny go on a really ‘Wild Adventure’
He spent the noughties getting soaking wet and covered in mud on rugby pitches.
Now former England legend Jonny Wilkinson has gone back to roughing it – after joining forces with Bear Grylls.
The telly adventurer has rebooted his Wild Weekends show, which was first screened in 2011, and saw him team up with the likes of Miranda Hart, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Stiller.
Over the next two Tuesdays, Bear will be bringing us two special episodes with a pair of sporting greats – former England and British and Irish Lions fly-half Jonny and Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Nicola Adams.
The pair will face the gruelling and harsh terrain of Dartmoor, battling the wild and pushing them to their physical and mental limits.
Bear says: “Both Jonny and Nicola are icons of their sports, and for me to be able to find out about their journey to stardom and their struggles along the way was a real privilege.”
Tonight’s episode begins with Jonny waiting for his adventure with Bear on a tiny rugby ground in Devon.
“I’m quite familiar with the feeling of being on a training field all by myself,” he says.
However, Jonny soon realises that he is about to enter the world of Bear Grylls which will put him well out of his comfort zone.
“I’m terrible with heights, and I’m actually really bad with claustrophobia,” he admits.
Bear tells Jonny of the “super cool little place… cliff and crags and caves and rivers, forests… lots of ups and downs”.
Jonny already has a short length of rope that Bear has given him, but for what they’re up to, they need more.
Unfortunately, the 50 metre-long rope they need has been stashed down one of the many caves that honeycomb this limestone landscape.
The rope is eventually found, and muddy but unscathed, both men emerge before reminiscing about childhood rugby games where they would be caked in mud.
The next physical hurdle for Jonny is a hideous looking damp ‘chimney climb’ 40m up a sheer cliff using an old hemp rope.
Then, sitting atop the ridge of limestone overlooking Dartmoor, Jonny opens up about his obsessive nature and how, even from a very young age, he drove himself extremely hard.
He tells a story of missing a kick at the age of 10 and how it affected him for months afterwards.
“Pressure and expectation took over from passion and excitement,” he says.
It’s obvious to Jonny that they are going to descend down the cliff top they have been chatting on, and Bear eventually leads the way down a nerve-wrenching abseil, leaving Jonny alone to talk himself through the instructions
Next, Bear sends Jonny off on a little exploratory climb to find the surprise lunch that he’s found for them.
“It’s a reminder of your days abroad,” he hints.
When Jonny finds and sniffs the package, he has no idea it contains some raw frogs’ legs – a reference to his days playing for French side Toulon.
Then, over lunch, Bear takes Jonny back to that pivotal moment when he scored the winning drop goal to help England win the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and the pair recreate the incredible sporting moment using a first aid kit as a ball.
Finally, Bear has one last icy challenge in store, which reminds Jonny why he did anything he could to avoid ice baths after a game.
However, his reluctance to jump in a freezing cold river doesn’t diminish Bear’s adulation of his hero.
“I’ve been reminded about what is so special about this man,” the adventurer concludes.
“His courage, his humility but above all his inner and outer resilience. Jonny Wilkinson, a hero to many and a hero to me.”
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