EVERY Monday night at about 8.30, my boyfriend and I have the same argument. Not the one about who left the milk out all day – that happens earlier, around 6.30pm, when we get home from work and find the
kitchen smelling like an abandoned dairy. I usually lose that one.

And it’s not about who’s going to do the dishes – that argument occurs around 7.45pm. I usually win that one, based on forensic evidence (ie: a burn on my finger that corresponds exactly to the shape of the dirty
frying pan in the sink) that proves I cooked dinner and am therefore exempt under the ‘‘whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean’’ rule.

Our regular scheduled 8.30pm argument doesn’t have anything to do with household chores. It coincides with the opening titles to SBS ONE’s Man Vs Wild, and usually goes something like this:

Me: ‘‘Ooh, Bear’s on a volcano!’’

Him: ‘‘It’s a set.’’

Me: ‘‘Wow, Bear started a fire with two sticks!’’

Him: ‘‘He used matches and they edited it out.’’

Me: ‘‘Look, Bear caught a rabbit!’’

Him: ‘‘Fake.’’

And so on.

For the three people who watch Stargate Atlantis or The Mentalist on Monday nights instead of SBS, allow me to explain: Man Vs Wild is a weekly nature show starring Bear Grylls, a handsome and overly earnest English survivalist who likes to put himself in dangerous situations just to show you how to get out of them.

Often these situations involve him having to eat ants, or sleep in mud, or lick dew from cave walls, or soak his T-shirt in urine and wrap it around his head. I can’t remember why he did that last one – apparently it’s a legitimate survival technique. (It’s also an effective form of contraception, should you require some at
short notice.)

But ever since Man Vs Wild began airing in 2006, debate has been raging about the show’s credibility – or more accurately, that of its host. Put simply – fans are divided over whether Bear really does s*** in the woods.

A quick search of YouTube brings up a number of videos claiming to expose Bear as a fake. There’s one that seems to show ‘‘dangerous’’ volcanic rock that Bear breathlessly jumped about on is actually 50m
from a busy highway. There’s another that shows ‘‘wild’’ horses he tamed and rode in the Sierra Nevada are wearing horseshoes. And then there’s the most damning of all – a crew member dressed in a grizzly bear suit.

Seems Grylls isn’t the only fake bear on Man Vs Wild.

Nevertheless – I find Bear’s antics fairly impressive, given my usual approach to surviving in foreign locations involves finding the nearest pub and waiting until help arrives.

And despite the fakery, I think the main appeal of Man Vs Wild can be summed up by the following text message, which my sister sent me at about 8.24pm last Monday: ‘‘Don’t 4get 2 tune in 2 c Bear do naked pushups in snow 2nite! Woohoo!’’

He might be lying about the volcanoes and horses and grizzlies – but you can’t fake that bod.

First published in the Sunday Mail, January 10, 2010.