In 1988 Bruce Parry became a Royal Marines officer at the age of 18. He served in arctic Norway and was sent to Kurdistan to manage the refugees fleeing Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq war.
Back in England, Bruce Parry became the Royal Marines' youngest ever Physical Training and Sports Officer and he became head, at just 23, of all physical aspects of British Commando Training. However, it was making expedition and conservation trips that satisfied Bruce Parry most. His trips included, for example, journeys to Borneo, Surinam and Sumatra. He also climbed Mont Blanc.
Bruce Parry made his television breakthrough with Cannibals and Crampons, where he and cavalry officer Mark Anstice climbed a remote peak in Papua New Guinea and spent three months kayaking through swamp and trekking through jungles to get to the mountain. Parry and Anstice found uncontested peoples during the expedition. Cannibals and Crampons were bought by the BBC and became part of the BBC One series Extreme Lives, and won various awards. More documentaries followed, including on Children's BBC (CBBC), Serious Desert and Serious Jungle. Serious Jungle won an RTS and Serious Desert won a BAFTA award. In 2004, BBC Wales were commissioned to make a series for BBC 2 about indigenous peoples around the world. This series, presented by Bruce Parry, became known as Tribe, a huge popular and critical hit, and further series of Tribe followed.
"I could be accused of being a wannabe tribesman, of wanting to be a tribal dude, but that is not how I see it. I see it as me doing what they wanted me to do, showing them respect and hanging out with them. And they loved it...”
As well as presenting the BBC's Tribe, Bruce Parry went on a three month trek over Greenland following in the footsteps of Captain Scott in 1911 in BBC2's Blizzard: Race to the Pole. Additionally, Bruce Parry travelled the length of the Amazon for a BBC Two series shown in autumn 2008. In 2010, the BBC revealed that Bruce Parry was to return to BBC Two in a five-part series Arctic, in which he engages with the indigenous people of the region.