Ray Mears Northern Wilderness

Ray Mears is not a man you’d look at and think ‘he’s the guy I want on my side come the apocalypse.’ He’s unassuming and doughy and, on the surface of things, the complete opposite of the all-rampaging, rugged Action Man you’d expect to be surviving in the most ridiculously inhospitable places on Earth.

However, Mears is completely the man you’d want in your corner, as Ray Mears Northern Wilderness (BBC Two) proved.

Last night, we saw our exploring Stay Puft Marshmallow Man mooching off to Canada’s wilderness. He travelled by canoe, by foot and meets loads of people who know loads about local bushcraft and the like. It was your typical Ray Mears show.

That pretty much means that, in TV terms, it was more of an amble than a charge. The only other TV personality you can compare him to, Bears Grylls, is more of eating moose puke with maggots in for ‘vital nutrients’ and jumping into frozen oxbow lakes head first with not a stitch on… whereas Mr Mears is more like taking a wander through somewhere rather lovely whilst he tells you interesting facts about the things he meanders by.

It’s a bit like taking a dog for a walk with your grandad. Instead saying things like “Y’see lad, this used to be a great big mill and Mr Reynolds who owned it, was going to make a great big swimming pool for the town, but he died before it was finished… that’s why we’ve got that ruddy great hole there…“, our man Mears is more likely to point at a tree and notice that it’s covered in claw marks from bears, teeth marks from rodents and holes drilled by woodpeckers. Basically, the kind of stuff people like you or me would wander past whilst moaning about the lack of vending machines in nature.

Of course, your average TV viewer… sallowed, jaundiced face… pot belly… crumbs of Fox’s biscuits in the folds of your trousers… cynical… is not really likely to find themselves in a wilderness like Ray. In fact, it’d be a miracle if any of us ever left the house at all. So with that, this show should feel ultimately pointless.

However, the way I look at it, this show makes me respect nature and find it interesting… without ever having to get my nice new trainers mucky. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Mears wants, but that said, I can console myself with the fact that I’m helping to preserve our disappearing green space by not visiting it and pouring petrol into the eyes of the nearest vole.

In short, this is like going for a walk without the effort. TV to let to mind have an amble through and, should the four horsemen come to send us in the wilds, the more I watch Ray Mears shows, the more I learn how to get along nicely with people like him so they’ll do all the hard work Cometh The Hour. See you round Ray’s fire.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1