Underfire documentary-maker Bear Grylls has been accused of faking a bear attack – by getting a friend to dress up in a wild bear costume.

The ex-SAS soldier apparently shot the scenes for a Discovery Channel documentary called Man vs Wild, in which he spends five days in remote locations around the globe. In the sequences, a dark black shape was seen moving in the undergrowth near Bear’s campsite in the early hours of the night. But a spokesman insisted the scenes were only ever intended as a prank and were not actually screened.

“The pranks that were filmed were just that – they were never intended for air, nor did they make the final cut,” said the source.

“Incidents which were not natural to the environment will in future be completely transparent, with all elements of the filming explained to viewers.”

Bear Grylls has been criticised in recent weeks for faking scenes on his Channel 4 show Born Survivor, allegedly sleeping in hotels and sharing food with the film crew rather than sleeping rough and fending for himself on his survival expeditions.