Losing a loved one is never easy, and someone who knows this all too well is reality TV star Spencer Matthews, who tragically lost his brother Michael when he was just 10 years old.


At the time, a 22-year-old Michael had become the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest. However, on the way down from the summit he disappeared and was presumed dead. His body was never returned to his family.

Twenty-three years later and at the age of 33, Spencer is returning to the site of his brother's death with the hope of recovering his body and bringing him home.

Launching on Disney Plus on Friday, 3rd March, Finding Michael will follow Spencer on his trip to Nepal as a team of experts, headed up by '14 peak' record holder Nims Purja, search Everest's ‘Death Zone’ to try and find Michael.

Once at extreme altitude at over 8,000m, the team will rely on a 10-man search crew, armed with drones and the skillset to go off the summit lines.

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When RadioTimes.com meets Spencer at London’s Langham hotel along with executive producer Bear Grylls and Dave Roland - who went on the original summit with Michael back in 1999 - the former Made In Chelsea star is coming down from an emotional screening of the film the night before.

"It's hard to tell how others will find it because obviously it's such a personal story, but last night I felt like it was very well received by people. I like the fact that people who watch it seem, to me at least, to feel an emotional connection towards it. And they are moved by it in some way," he tells us.

Michael and Spencer Matthews
Michael and Spencer Matthews Disney+

At the time of Michael's death, Spencer was just a child and struggled to grieve, saying: "I always grew up with the understanding that Mike's 1999 expedition was badly organised and his death could have potentially been avoided.

"I grew up feeling like his life was the price paid for the mistakes of others and that made grieving him harder because it felt like it wasn't so much an accident, which would have almost been easier to deal with, so I had this kind of hatred and resentment towards certain people growing up."

However, after he was sent a photo by another climber of a body believed to be Michael's, Matthews decided to embark on the journey which fans will see in the 90-minute film.

He continues: "I had never realised that body recovery on Everest was even possible prior to receiving that photo. So, the thought had crossed my mind in a kind of fanciful way that I'd love to recover his body one day, never with any actual substance behind it, because I didn't realise that that was actually a thing, until we received this photograph of a body which could have been Michael and an offer to look into recovering him."

Speaking of Bear and Nims, he adds: "From then on, my mind just just raced with the possibility of doing this ourselves. I made a few phone calls to high powered pals of mine who've been there before and began to understand the risk involved, logistically whether it's possible and just how best to proceed."

Finding Michael
Spencer Matthews and Nims Purja Instagram: @spencermatthews/Disney Plus

The highest mountain in the world at 8,849 metres high, Mount Everest attracts hundreds of climbers every year, and has a 14.1 per cent fatality rate. So of course, the risk was a huge factor for Spencer to consider when making the doc.

"I had conversations with my family," he explains. "This was a difficult decision for us to make to document the film, but also whether or not to go after all this time and potentially risk the lives of others in our quest to recover Mike."

Thankfully with the help of Bear, who successfully climbed Everest in 1998, and Nims, who has descended the mountain six times, Spencer was able to reach the decision.

He says: "It was only by chatting to Bear and being able to meet and understand Nims' availability and their ability to operate at that level, which really put us at ease that, although this will always be risky, the risk is about as diminished as it possibly could be doing it with them. That gave us comfort to proceed and Disney were kind enough to want to document the journey."

While the journey allowed Spencer to understand who his brother was, as he stayed in "the same hostels (or tea rooms, as they call them)" and met some of the same people Michael would have met, it wasn't without its challenges.

Spencer and Michael Matthews
Spencer and Michael Matthews Disney+

An inexperienced climber, Spencer was advised to stay at base camp while Nims and his men scaled Mount Everest - something he says drove him "mad".

"I drove myself mad at base camp not having any control of the situation - not that you would want to get in the way of the search and recovery team. The team were incredible and would go from base camp directly to camp fall in a single push. And I learned to understand that that's incredibly difficult," he reveals.

Although difficult, Spencer says he would have regretted it if he never tried to find Michael.

"I would be constantly thinking about doing so. You know, I'm glad that we have done it to move through certain feelings that I had as well," he says.

Despite this, there was pressure to bring back good news to his family.

Asked if he worried about how the search would affect his loved ones, had he been unsuccessful, Spencer Matthews admitted that he didn't consider documentary's “detrimental effect” on his family during the planning stages.

Bear Grylls and Spencer Matthews
Bear Grylls and Spencer Matthews Disney+

"Yeah, one thing I hadn't considered at all was if we were unsuccessful, that it might have a kind of detrimental effect to some people in my family. I hadn't given that a single second thought because I just thought that we would find him because that's the way I'm put together," he says.

"With all the planning, the time and the amount of people involved in making the project, we're certainly hoping for a positive result."

Finding Michael is streaming now on Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus now for £79.90 for a year or £7.99 a month.


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