Raymond Paul Mears (born 7 February 1964) is a British woodsman, instructor, businessman, author and TV presenter. His TV appearances cover bushcraft and survival techniques. He is best known for the TV series Ray Mears' Bushcraft, Ray Mears' World of Survival, Extreme Survival, Survival with Ray Mears, Wild Britain with Ray Mears and Ray Mears Goes Walkabout.
Mears in 2013
|Occupation||Television presenter, author|
|Spouse(s)||Rachel Mears |
(m. 2005; her death 2006)
Life and work
Mears grew up on the North Downs, in Southern England. He attended Downside Preparatory School in Purley and then Reigate Grammar School, where he was a member of the naval cadre of the Combined Cadet Force.
In 1983, Mears founded Woodlore, a company that offers bushcraft-related courses and paraphernalia. It became so successful that it soon led to the trademarking of the name "Ray Mears". Mears first appeared on television in 1994 presenting the BBC series Tracks and then, in 1997, Ray Mears' World of Survival. In 2003, he presented the BBC documentary Ray Mears' Real Heroes of Telemark about the Norwegian heavy water sabotage mission during World War II.
While filming a documentary in Wyoming in 2005, Mears was involved in a serious accident. The helicopter in which he and his camera crew were travelling struck the ground during a steep low level turn, and broke apart, rolling to a stop. The fuel tank was ruptured in the accident and escaping fuel covered Mears and the crew. No fire occurred, and Mears was able to escape the wreckage uninjured and assist in the rescue and administer first aid to one of the crew who was badly hurt.
On 29 May 2008, Mears appeared on The Graham Norton Show where he attempted unsuccessfully to light a fire using a bow drill. Unbeknownst to Mears, the entire set had been sprayed with fire-retardant.
In 2009, Mears was approached by ITV to present a planned revival of the nature documentary series Survival. The resulting three-part series was rebranded Survival with Ray Mears and broadcast on ITV1 in 2010. Each episode followed Mears as he used his tracking skills to locate bears, wolves and leopards.
In a Radio Times interview to promote the series, Mears complained of being typecast by the BBC with the result that he was not offered the opportunity to present wildlife programmes. He then presented Wild Britain with Ray Mears, which was also broadcast by ITV. Mears was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in January 2014. His choices were "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones, "English Rose" by the Jam, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles, "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Maria" by Blondie, "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall, "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" by Elton John and "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.
Mears met his partner, Rachel, in 1992 when she attended one of his five-day survival courses. The couple lived in Eastbourne, East Sussex with her two adult children and married in 2005, after Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel died in 2006, aged 50, and her ashes are scattered in Ashdown Forest near their home.
Mears currently lives in Sussex with his second wife Ruth and his stepson.
- Wild Tracks (BBC, 1994)
- Tracks (BBC, 1994–97)
- Ray Mears' World of Survival (BBC, 1997–98, 2 series of 6 episodes each)
- Ray Mears' Country Tracks (BBC, 1998, 2002–03)
- The Essential Guide to Rocks (BBC Education, 1998)
- Ray Mears' Extreme Survival (BBC, 1999–2002, 3 series of 6 episodes each)
- Ray Mears' Adventure Special (BBC, 2001) – Mears takes Ewan McGregor into the Honduran jungle on the trail of the prehistoric people of the Mosquito Coast.
- Ray Mears' Real Heroes of Telemark (BBC, 2003)
- Ray Mears' Bushcraft (BBC, 2004–05, 2 series of 5 episodes each)
- Ray Mears' Wild Food (BBC, 2007, 5 episodes)
- Ray Mears Goes Walkabout (BBC, June 2008, 4 episodes) – Mears tours the Australian outback. An accompanying hardcover book was published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton in March 2008. In the series, Mears meets one of his heroes, Les Hiddins (aka "The Bush Tucker Man"). He also heads to the Kimberley region to meet the reputed aboriginal artist and bush guide Ju Ju Wilson.
- Ray Mears' Northern Wilderness (BBC Two, Autumn 2009, 6 episodes) – Mears follows in the footsteps of pioneers who opened up Canada, such as Samuel Hearne, John Rae and David Thompson.
- Survival with Ray Mears (ITV, Spring 2010, 3 episodes)
- Wild Britain with Ray Mears (ITV, 2010–2013, 3 series)
- Ray Mears: Close Encounters (ITV, 2013)
- How the Wild West Was Won with Ray Mears (BBC Four, 2014)
- Wilderness Walks with Ray Mears (ITV, 2014)
- Wild River with Ray Mears (ITV, 2015)
- Wild Australia with Ray Mears (ITV, 2016)
- Wild France with Ray Mears (ITV, 2016)
- Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears (ITV, 2017)
- The Survival Handbook (1990)
- The Outdoor Survival Handbook (1992)
- Ray Mears' World of Survival (1997)
- Bushcraft (2002)
- Essential Bushcraft (2003)
- The Real Heroes of Telemark: The True Story of the Secret Mission to Stop Hitler's Atomic Bomb (2003)
- Ray Mears' Bushcraft Survival (2005)
- Wild Food by Ray Mears & Professor Gordon Hillman (2007)
- Ray Mears Goes Walkabout (2008)
- Vanishing World - A Life of Bushcraft (2008)
- Northern Wilderness (2009)
- My Outdoor Life (2013)
- Out on the Land: Bushcraft Skills from the Northern Forest (2016)
- "Redoubtable Ray, the Outdoors Man for us Indoors People: MY OUTDOOR LIFE BY RAY MEARS Daily Mail Online". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Ray Mears (12 September 2013). My Outdoor Life. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 1444778196.
- "Ray Mears – Personally Speaking Bureau". Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Danziger, Danny (1 June 2008). "Best of times worst of times Ray Mears". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "OM TV guide". OutdoorsMagic.
- Holmwood, Leigh (2 April 2009). "Survival of the fittest as ITV wildlife show returns". London: The Guardian.
- "Ray Mears: "I was typecast by the BBC"". Digital Spy. 16 April 2010.
- BBC, Radio 4. "Desert Island Discs". Ray Mears as guest. BBC. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Sims, Paul (20 July 2010). "TV survival expert Ray Mears was drafted in by police to hunt for fugitive killer Raoul Moat". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- Thorne, Frank (9 July 2008). "TV survival guru Ray Mears on death of his wife". London: "The Mirror".
- "Interview: Ray Mears on his survival skills". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 21 September 2013.
- Katsoulis, Melissa (25 April 2008). "Ray Mears discusses bushcraft and his new book about the Australian outback". London: The Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010.