Ed Stafford, 38, was born in Peterborough and educated at Stoneygate School, Leicester; Uppingham in Rutland; and at Newcastle University. He then earned a position in the prestigious commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and was commissioned as a British Army Officer in July 1999.
Ed went on to command platoons in the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, gaining his Northern Ireland medal in 2000 for his tour of Crossmaglen, South Armagh. Ed's happiest military years were spent as an instructor at RTC Lichfield where he oversaw several hundred recruits through their basic training, before leaving the military as a captain in 2002.
After leaving the army, Ed used his leadership and outdoor skills as an expedition leader with the former charity Trekforce. He led groups of volunteers on community and conservation expeditions into the jungles of Belize, Guatemala and Borneo.
Ed saw an opportunity to widen his experience when the United States invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. Ed took a position as a UN contractor advising UN electoral workers on planning, logistics and security matters during the first ever presidential elections. Ed managed a team of similar contractors from Herat, in the western region of Afghanistan. During his time there, Ed’s election counting centre was rocketed by terrorists; his airport camp was mortared by improvised explosive devices that narrowly missed his un-armoured office; and the compound he was stationed in was burned to the ground when the warlord Ishmael Kahn was removed from office.
Returning to expeditions, Ed took on a new challenge – setting up extreme cold weather expeditions in Patagonia, Argentina, for the expedition company GVI. Ed was Director of Programmes in Argentina, carrying out scientific research projects and Northern Ice Cap traverses in Chile.
In 2007, Ed was offered work with the BBC's Natural History Unit. Ed was contracted to fly into Guyana and manage the construction of a filming base camp in the heart of the rainforest. He became the camp's logistics manager when the film crew arrived nine weeks later to film Lost Land of the Jaguar, in which Ed briefly appears.
In Ed’s first programme with Discovery, Walking the Amazon, he undertook an 860-day trek along the Amazon River. This was the longest jungle expedition ever attempted, and the first time in history that anyone has walked this entire route. His Guinness World Record-breaking feat made headlines the world over, and was described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as "Truly extraordinary… in the top league of expeditions past and present." It shifted Ed's focus from managing and leading teams in dangerous environments to using his expedition skills to educate people about environmental matters, and to inspire others to achieve the seemingly impossible.
Ed’s second series with Discovery, Naked and Marooned, saw him push his limits even further, spending 60 days alone on an island with only his bare hands to keep him alive. Now he takes on a whole new challenge with Discovery - Ed Stafford: Into the Unknown - in which he seeks the truth behind mysterious satellite images of Earth’s most remote locations.