In this post millennium television era, it seems that each and every aspect of modern life is fairly represented on the small screen and this has heavily impacted on who can be a star. Former security guard turned police officer Rav Wilding never even considered a career in entertainment and instead followed his maternal grandparents in a career in the metropolitan police. Leaving school, after a brief spell as a construction worker, Rav served in the 5th airborne brigade in the specialist air defence unit “P-Troop” (the artists), an elite unit within the British army. Unfortunately his time in the army was considerably shortened due to a serious leg break in 1999 which eventually resulted in him working at one of the most famous department stores in the world. Whilst at Harrods Rav was in charge of the underground safes which frequently contained thousands of pounds in cash together with the general close protection of the store. Yet after nine months Wilding accepted his dream job when he joined the Metropolitan Police and the rest is history.
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Fulfilling his career ambition of joining the police service in 1999 was something very special for Rav. Aged just twenty-one, he could be found monitoring the streets of London and soon climbed the ranks. Just three years later, the young policeman auditioned to become a contestant on Channel Four’s rainforest reality show Eden. A forerunner to the highly popular Shipwrecked. This gave Rav the first taste of what would become his world for the next twenty years and was the springboard to his career in entertainment. Yet unbeknown to Rav at this time, it would be another of his talents which would eventually earn him national acclaim.
In 2004 the BBC instigated the search for an active police officer to appear on the flagship investigation series Crimewatch. From the thousands of police personnel who auditioned for this sought after role, Rav was delighted when he was shortlisted for the role and eventually secured it which would undoubtedly change his life forever. Being on live TV for the very first time was a daunting experience for the young policeman and was a million miles away from his day job as a patrolling officer. Yet still as a duty officer, Rav was still on the beat around central London and for a time was able to mix TV with his real profession. For him it was incredible that in the space of a few hours he was able to go from broadcasting to millions of people live on BBC1 to then donning his police uniform to patrol the boroughs of London. He continued his role at the Met until 2008 when he decided to forge his career as a television presenter.
With his contributions to Crimewatch increasing, Rav was now a recognised TV face and it wasn’t long before presenting jobs came calling. In the same year as his exit from the Met, he teamed up with newsreader Louise Minchin for Missing Persons Live which raised awareness of outstanding missing persons cases throughout the UK. Families would appeal for viewers to come forward with new information surrounding the disappearance of their loved ones in the hope that it would help to bring them safely back home. Whilst the series was successful in shining a light on stories of missing people who hadn’t made the headlines, it was quickly discovered that most people who go missing do not wish to be found and this can be a severe blow for their families. Yet a live forty five minute programme for five days per week for three weeks on daytime BBC1 illustrated how important the corporation saw this issue and was a platform to convey the trauma which families of missing people are forced to cope with on a daily basis.
Missing Persons Live provided BBC1 with an informative live investigative show for 2008 but in 2009 the show was rebranded to incorporate outstanding stories from Crimewatch. Crimewatch Roadshow was first broadcast on the 1st of June 2009 and pitched Rav alongside TV presenter Michelle Ackerly as they got exclusive access to the tireless work of the police in catching wanted criminals. This included everything from missing people to petty thieves and murders to noisy neighbours. For seven years Crimewatch Roadshow became a staple of the BBC1 weekday schedule and helped to answer the mystery of hundreds of unsolved crime stories which helped to make Rav one of the most trusted and respected broadcasters around.
Beyond police investigation, Rav has also reported on and documented the tireless work of Britain’s ambulance service in BBC1 in Helicopter Heroes. For six years Rav presided over the range of stories and incidents that the air ambulance service was forced to deal with and this proved a real eye opening experience for the man who had spent a career on the other side of the emergency services. One of the most striking aspects to the programme was the incredible rehabilitation and transformation of the patients they helped and was a glowing advert for the NHS. It was always a great feeling to see someone who had been so obviously unwell given a clean bit of health and this was one of the most popular aspects of the show: real people in real situations and Rav was the perfect candidate to preside over the action.
Conscious of being pigeonholed as a serious factual broadcaster, Rav was determined to show another side of his personality. Having taken part in the seventh series of the BBC’s heavyweight Strictly Come Dancing In 2009 only to be voted off in the third round with his dance partner Aliona Vilani, Rav was determined to make the most of the opportunities that his fame could bring him. Just two years later, he took part in the biggest challenge of his career when he joined nine celebrities to be the first to get to 71 Degrees North. This is a great achievement in a career that has seen so much success and is something that Rav still holds very dear to his heart. The other being the celebrity who holds the record for the most money won on ITV’s Tipping Point.
In 2019 Rav returned to ITV on The Full Monty to highlight male career, something which is very close to his heart. Having never done anything like this before, it would have been easy for him to gracefully bow out but the cause meant too much to him and gave him the determination to persevere. By doing so, he helped to break down some of the stigma attributed to cancer and raise awareness for men to get frequent check ups. Now into his second decade in television, Rav has embraced the breadth of the medium and is currently seen on BBC Two’s Ill Gotten Gains on weekday afternoons. It was a great pleasure to interview Rav Wilding and wish him all the very best with the rest of his remarkable career