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Survivorman logo
Survivorman logo
Genre Documentary (wilderness survival), Adventure
Created by Les Stroud
Written by Les Stroud
Directed by Les Stroud
Starring Les Stroud
Country of origin  Canada
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 23 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Les Stroud
Editor(s) Andy Peterson
Cinematography Les Stroud
Camera setup Les Stroud
Running time 44 minutes (not including commercials)
Production company(s) Cream Productions
Wilderness Spirit Productions
Distributor OLN
Discovery Communications
Original channel OLN
Original run October 13, 2004 (2004-10-13) – December 19, 2008 (2008-12-19)
Status Ended
Preceded by Stranded (2001)
External links
Official website

Survivorman is a Canadian-produced television program, broadcast in Canada on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), and internationally on Discovery Channel and Science Channel. The show aired three seasons - 2004, 2007, and 2008.[1]

The title refers to the host of the show, Canadian filmmaker and survival expert Les Stroud, who uses survival skills and knowledge to survive for up to seven days alone videotaping his adventures in remote locales where he brings with him little or no food, water, or equipment. According to the show's website, each location is scouted and pre-planned extensively by Stroud and his team who consult with survival specialists and natives to the area. The fact that Stroud spends his time alone without a production crew is a major focus of the show.

During the videotaping of each episode, Stroud is alone and operates all the cameras himself, while his support team monitors from a distance. He is equipped with only his clothes, camera equipment, his harmonica, a Leatherman multi-tool, and often "everyday items" relevant to the episode's particular survival situation or locale. For safety purposes, Stroud carries an emergency satellite phone and normally has daily radio contact with his support crew that is always within rescue range.[2] However, Stroud has stated that while videotaping several episodes, there were times when his emergency phone did not work, leaving him totally alone[3] and has mentioned his concern that his rescue crew may become stranded with him. On a few occasions, Stroud has also been provided with a rifle for safety reasons or as part of the survival situation; In Season 1 Episode 05 - "Canadian Arctic," the local experts he consults insist that because of Polar Bears they would not let him go without a rifle.[citation needed]

Survivorman can be considered a sequel or spin-off to Stroud's earlier project, Stranded, a five-part series that was shown on the Canadian Discovery Channel in 2001.

Les Stroud stopped videotaping Survivorman after the third season due to what he described as the significant physical toll of videotaping each episode.[4] As of fall 2009, reruns are still broadcast on OLN.


Episode themes

In each episode Stroud places himself in a unique survival situation. The show is meant to demonstrate how one might survive alone in a remote location with minimal supplies until being rescued. Finding food, water, and materials to make fire and shelter pose the main challenges of each episode.

According to its official website, the show includes Stroud dealing with the aftermath of unsuccessful or inappropriate survival techniques and decisions. The reasons for these errors can include time limitations, being unfamiliar with a technique, or misjudging weather conditions, all frequently encountered by people in survival situations. While acknowledging the errors and the negative effect on his emotional state that they can create, Stroud usually remains calm, which is described as being vital to successful survival.[5]

In addition to the physical challenges posed by each survival situation, Stroud confronts the psychological effects of isolation, physical injury, and exhaustion. Throughout the episode, Stroud narrates to the camera, commenting on his physical and psychological state, providing survival tips and making jokes. Stroud also often dismantles available equipment (e.g. bike, snowmobile, airplane) that he happens to come across in the wild and puts it to another practical use.[citation needed]

Prior to each episode, Les relies heavily on local experts to brief him on flora and fauna and key survival techniques unique to that particular location. Drawing upon this local knowledge and guidance, Stroud shows the audience how to find viable sources of nourishment, avoid dangerous or unhealthy ones, and utilize them appropriately and efficiently. Stroud frequently explains that gathering food in this manner should be reserved for true survival situations in order to preserve the environment.[citation needed]

Stroud's survival situations are reported to have helped real people who find themselves stranded in the elements to survive. [6]


Except for footage of him arriving at his new setting, and being retrieved at the end of the week, the content of each episode is taped entirely by Stroud himself using several DV cameras that he must carry with him everywhere that he goes (he later switched to a number of HDV cameras.) The burden of having to carry, place, and retrieve the camera equipment for each shot adds to the challenge and difficulty of each survival situation, and in several episodes Stroud chooses to leave a camera behind, videotaping him as he departs the area (the camera is retrieved later), and in one episode taking place in the Amazon, Stroud is forced to flee his camp and abandon all but one of his cameras due to fear of a stalking jaguar. His camera and audio gear typically weigh about 50 pounds (23 kg) in total. During the "Behind the Scenes" episode, Stroud explains that "setting up or tearing down all of my camera gear takes about 65% of my time." The episode also explains that Stroud and his team extensively scout their locations ahead of time and consult with survivalists and natives to the area. The goal is both to ensure Stroud's safety and to sketch out interesting scenarios and techniques that can be illustrated on the show. He later records a voice-over commentary in the studio, where he explains his decision-making process and details of how he accomplished various tasks.[citation needed]

On July 16, 2007, Stroud and a support crew of four in the safety camp were cited by the United States National Park Service for commercial videotaping without a permit at Taroka Arm, a seldom-visited area at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. Investigators found a driftwood shelter surrounded by multiple cameras on the beach. The support crew was camped near a sensitive archaeological site. Stroud paid the required application, location and monitoring fees, totaling approximately $2,800 USD.[7]


Season # of Eps. First Airdate Last Airdate
Season 1 10 April 6, 2005 June 8, 2005
Season 2 7 August 10, 2007 September 21, 2007
Season 3 6 November 7, 2008 December 19, 2008


Cover Art DVD Name No# of episodes Release Date
Survivorman dvd cover.jpg Season 1 10 2006
Season 2 7 2008
Season 3 6 2009

See also


External links

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