Mark Burnett Reviving 'Eco-Challenge' With Bear Grylls

A predecessor of 'Survivor,' the grandfather of reality competitions last aired in 2003.
JC Olivera/Getty Images; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Mark Burnett (left), Bear Grylls

Mark Burnett is bringing back Eco-Challenge. The environmentally conscious reality competition, which launched back in 1992, kick-started the reality producer's illustrious career, paving the way for Survivor and a wave of other competition series.

Reviving the show, whose last cycle aired in 2003, has long been a passion project for the MGM TV topper. The new version has yet to find a broadcast home, but famed survivalist Bear Grylls (Running Wild) has boarded to host and serve as executive producer.

"The most asked question in my entire career is 'Will you ever bring back Eco-Challenge?' and I’d always known we needed the correct authentic figure head to lead us forward effectively," said Burnett. "Bear Grylls is that leader. He’s tough, he’s smart and he’s extremely capable in both the wilderness and in the boardroom. He’s my friend and I couldn’t be happier and I’d gladly follow him."

Eco-Challenge had 10 cycles over eight years, airing on Discovery Channel and earning Burnett his first Emmy. The series focused on teams from different countries becoming proficient in various survivalist techniques — traversing courses hundreds of miles long and given strict rules to carry out all of their trash with them, including solid human waste.

Eco-Challenge is the ultimate global survival-adventure race, against the elements, against the clock, and against some of the greatest extreme athletes the world has ever seen," said Grylls. "I am so proud to have partnered with MGM Television and the legendary Mark Burnett to bring this incredible adventure series to the world. This is raw human endeavor at its most powerful."

Once a television partner is secured, the project anticipates shooting in late 2019. Burnett expects to bring back the series' original adventure production team of Lisa Hennessy, Scott Flavelle and Kevin Hodder. It will be produced by MGM Television and Bear Grylls Ventures.