Raphael Rowe, the host of the Netflix documentary series Inside the World's Toughest Prisons, had spent 12 years in prison for a crime he hadn't committed.

The British broadcaster's breathtaking backstory has garnered numerous curiosities, but none more so than the mysterious scar that runs down his left cheek.

But Rowe, who had never addressed queries regarding the scar before, has finally revealed the story behind it in his book 'Notorious,' released on December 20, 2020.

Why does Raphael Rowe have a scar on his face?

The Pilgrimage: The Road To Santiago cast has always been vocal about the psychological scars that tough prison systems inflict on individuals.

But he has rarely addressed the story behind a physical scar on his left cheek. His silence also led fans to make all kinds of speculations.


A post shared by Raphael Rowe (@raphaelrowe)

Many believed that the BBC journalist got the scar before imprisonment. Before the wrongful conviction, the 53-year-old broadcaster had previous convictions as a criminal, including one for malicious wounding, as a teenager.

Some also highlighted that he might have gotten the scar in prison as he has revealed that police officers kicked and punched him during his prison time. "Standing in the face of six or seven burly prison officers about to descend on me and beat me just because I refuse to go to work or just because I wanted an extra phone call to call my family to get something done with my case," he had shared.

Others hypothesized on Reddit that the scar must have resulted from some fights while he was on the 12-year prison sentence.

But for good, Rowe finally addressed the question in a tweet back in July 2020. He stated that the story behind the scar would eventually be revealed in his book 'Notorious.'

He explained that one needs to visit his website, sign up or order his book, read it, and eventually find out the story behind his scar. The book was released in 2020 and can be purchased from his website.

'Notorious' from Rowe also includes gripping prison tales 

In 2000, the media personality talked about some of the terrible things he experienced as a prisoner during an interview with the Guardian. He shared one incident where some men had boiling water thrown on them in a row and later got their skin peeled off.

In fact, Rowe always resisted the prison methods and system as he always felt that he was wrongfully framed and put into prison. 


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"They expect guilty people to behave and do certain things, like work or attend anger management courses," Rowe told LADbible. "Because I wouldn't do any of that, I was constantly being punished in prison for resisting against the regime.

Rowe discovered that the prison system was extremely tough that involved physical abuse and isolation. "And that was tough, you know, being in an isolation or segregation cell, stripped naked, having just been beaten black and blue by prison officers for resisting the regime. That was tough. That was really hard – really hard," he said. 


A post shared by Raphael Rowe (@raphaelrowe)

In addition, Rowe pointed out that some prisoners got extremely harsh treatment, because of which he always felt fearful of having a similar fate every day.

Also, witnessing some horrific, violent attacks on other prisoners who were in for say, sexual offences. Watching hot water laced with sugar poured over people as their skin peeled from their skin, seeing guys get stabbed and beaten, seeing prison officers being attacked. Witnessing those things always instilled a kind of daily fear that it could be you, it could be you that is the next victim of such a vicious attack. So that was always constantly there.

Even worse, he feared not being able to have a regular life outside the prison after spending more than a decade there. 

How long was I going to spend in prison? How much more of my life?" he said. "I'd already lost all of my 20s in prison, I was in my 30s by the time my conviction was finally overturned. So the fear of never having children, the fear of never having a sexual relationship again. There were lots of different fears that made me scared in the time that I was in prison. Notwithstanding the kind of things I witnessed and experienced directly.

The book 'Notorious' seems to account for many such events as he recalls the tough prison systems, the usual confrontations, and the physical and mental abuse and trauma he experienced inside the prison system. 

"For the first time ever, this book will walk you through my improbable personal journey with brutal honesty. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My story, combined with an exceptional journey to the forefront of investigative journalism, remains unparalleled," Rowe stated on his website.

He has also teased excerpts from the book on social media, where he described his fight with another prisoner, someone much larger and bulkier.

Who is Raphael Rowe's wife?

Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter in February 2021, Rowe talked about his book and why he hadn't included all his life stories out there. He explained that he was a private person and therefore wished to reveal only those things that he thought should be known by people.

He then went on to share that it was also the first time he revealed that he was married and had a wife and children.

I’ve been quite a private person. So for example, I’ve never talked about my wife and children anywhere, at any point, and so in my book it’s the first time that I reveal that I’m even married.

Previously, before his imprisonment, he also had a girlfriend named Nancy Stanley and a son, who was 12 years old in 2000. 

When was Raphael Rowe arrested and released from prison?

In 1988, at the age of 19, Rowe Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson were sentenced to life imprisonment for a false charge of murder and robbery as part of the M25 Three, which was a name given to them after a set of unprecedented burglaries that took place in Surrey near the M25 motorway. 

But in 2000, after spending 12 years in prison, the Court of Appeal finally overturned the wrongful convictions. As a result, he was finally released on July 17, 2000, from undeserved incarceration.

The court discovered that the victim's profile of the attackers didn't match the three, and it was actually the police who believed otherwise. Even Rowe's girlfriend had written a letter apologizing to him for lying and testifying against him during his trials that led to his imprisonment. 

The event survivors recalled that one of the culprits was white, but the three black men were deemed guilty.

What does Raphael Rowe do now?

Upon release, Rowe was so out of touch that people mocked him for being unable to use a mobile phone.

In an interview with BBC, the Netflix star shared that he faced difficulties interacting with women. He also mentioned that opening doors felt uneasy because he never had to open a door in prison.

Despite all odds, Rowe found a way to bounce back by taking a proactive approach.

During incarceration, he studied journalism through a correspondence course. The education proved advantageous for the aspiring journalist and podcaster, as he got an insight into the world of reporting. So much so that he became the first mixed-race individual to report for Today, The Six O'Clock News, and Panorama.

The TV host of BBC One series The One Show and Sunday Morning Live thus re-established himself as a highly respected journalist. Now, his message is simple: as he states on his website, "Wherever you are in life at the present time, don't think you are going be in the same place in 5 years' time, because your life can and will change."

"The key is what you do as an individual to bring about those changes. Do you sit down and wait or take charge of your own destiny?"


A post shared by Raphael Rowe (@raphaelrowe)

In December 2022, it was announced that Rowe, in collaboration with the UK producer of Inside the World's Toughest Prisons, will make a new Netflix documentary series, Inside The World's Toughest Forces, a spin-off of the Toughest Prisons series. 

What race is Raphael Rowe?

Born on March 11, 1968, in London, Uk, Raphael George Roweis a television journalist, author, reporter, podcaster, and host.  

He belongs to a mixed heritage and has three elder sisters. His father, Raphael (they both have the same name), was a Jamaican emigrant, and his mother, Rosemary, was British. They got married when Rosemary's age was 17. 

The family lived in South-East London in a low-income, working-class neighborhood where parentage with mixed ethnicities was common. 

 Is Inside the World's Toughest Prisons scripted?

The show is a documentary series and not a reality show. It may involve planning and execution of certain situations and scenes in the production forte, but it is likely not scripted. 


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The show and host Row showcases life in the 19 prisons worldwide from the perspectives of the prisoners, officers, and other stakeholders involved. Season 6 of the series was finalized in September 2022.