Rick Edwards on River Hunters S3: 'People like watching us find rubbish'

Riverhunters S3
Rick Edwards with Beau Ouimette and Gary Bankhead

Rick Edwards and Beau Ouimette are back on the hunt for treasure in a brand-new series of River Hunters. The pair are joined again by underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead to see what objects they can find at the bottom of Britain's most famous rivers.

Series three premiers on Sky HISTORY at 9pm on Monday, 16 May. The team travel to Scotland to investigate the last battle to have taken place on British soil and follow in Bonnie Prince Charlie's footsteps as he fled from Government forces.

Sky HISTORY caught up with Rick to find out more about his favourite memories of filming the show and his relationships with the rest of the team.

What can viewers expect to see from the new series of River Hunters?

I'm not sure that there's much that they haven't seen already. It is kind of more of the same but in a good way!

I'm obviously very biased, but I love the show and I love doing it with Beau and Gary. There's more of me and Beau just sort of messing around, me lightly teasing Gary, and me finding stuff and having no idea what it is. Essentially, I think if you liked the first two series, you will like this series as well.

Would you still class yourself a ‘river hunting rookie’ or have you become more skilled as the series progress?

I haven't really noticed any particular improvement in my skills or competence. For example, one of the first signals that I found in this series was a really, really good signal. I had a pile of stuff in my hand and I was using the pointer but just couldn’t find where it was coming from. Then I had the slightly vexing realisation that it was my wedding ring that I had forgotten to take off. That’s just classic me really. Beau and Gary obviously loved that!

I'm now someone who has done quite a lot of river hunting and occasionally, purely by luck, I will find some quite good stuff, but it is luck. Beau and Gary do help me, but I don't have the knack. Beau absolutely has the knack, he just knows rivers and has a sense of where stuff is going to be. I've got no idea. I'm just asking him to tell me where to go and look and I'll do that. He just sniffs it all out like a bloodhound, it's very impressive and slightly annoying.

I guess I am better than I was when I started if you’re being very generous, but still not very good. If you’re going to have a ‘river hunt-off’ then I’m definitely coming last.

What is your favourite find from Season 3?

The best find was a terret ring that would have been used on the reins of a chariot. It wasn't what we were looking for at all, but that's kind of the beauty of it. That's what I love about the show and river hunting in general. We can go looking for evidence of a specific battle, but you don't know what you're going to find, you really don't.

Beau and I pulled this terret ring out and we both looked at it and thought it was probably some Victorian junk. It was quite pretty but it looked like a handle from a drawer or something like that.

We shouted to Gary, and he was like “No I think that might be something”. Eventually, we found out it was like 2,000 years old and in really fantastic condition. Gary thinks it’s the best thing we've ever found on the show.

What does it feel like when you spend ages digging for a really strong signal and it just turns out to be a piece of rubbish?

That happens quite a lot in this series. I had a really good signal and could feel a curved surface caught between two bits of rock slab. Gary came over and had a feel of it and we both really thought it was a coin. It was quite deep, and I spent ages, really ages, trying to get this thing out. I eventually pulled it out and it was a modern 1p. We had no idea how it would’ve gotten that deep.

It's quite upsetting because there’s great excitement when you're digging something out that you think is good. I can’t wait to go waggle it in Beau’s face. To have that cruelly snatched away from you is tough.

Then you have to pick yourself up and go again, but with the slight knowledge that that stuff is also quite good for the show because people like watching us find rubbish as well. They will find that quite fun, understandably.

But it is annoying when you allow yourself to believe that you're about to pull out something great and it’s totally worthless, or worth one pence.

Are there any points during the show when filming feels a little bit dangerous?

I can never quite work out what the criteria is for us to say that a river is acceptable to go in. I quite often look at them and I think, “that is horrible!” In the first series, I remember going into a river next to a sign that literally said "hazardous" and "do not swim", but the health and safety team were just fine with it. So it's often quite unpleasant.

We don't normally go in anywhere where the current is too strong, particularly if it's slippery underfoot, because that's just no good. By and large, we try and avoid the danger.

Also, if the current is fast-moving and it’s deep, you can’t really search, it’s almost impossible. In terms of current and flow, we're fairly safe, but not so much in terms of water hygiene.

What’s your favourite part about filming River Hunters?

Honestly, hanging out with Beau. I love that strange little man. You would never in a million years put us together, we’re very different people. I don’t know why anyone thought putting us two together would work, but somehow there’s a strange alchemy and it does.

We really get along and have fun teasing each other. That’s kind of the fun of the show for me. Obviously learning about the history, finding things, and exploring is great, but ultimately, us in our little van, driving around and chatting nonsense is what I really look forward to.

If you could take River Hunters to any river in the world, where would you go to?

Just anywhere a bit warm!

It’s probably a bit difficult to search but going to the Nile would be good. ‘River Hunters Abroad’ roaming up and down the banks of the River Nile. That would be fantastic!

Is there a specific piece of treasure that you would like to find?

We’ve found fragments of sword and I would really love to have that kind of Excalibur type moment, where you just pull something out and are immediately like, “Oh my God, that’s a sword!”

I don't even care how old it is, just any kind of well-preserved sword would be amazing.

Do you get jealous of Gary’s iconic slow-motion river entrances?

The slow-mos with Gary are amazing because in the first series, when we first slow-mo’d his walk, it was sort of a joke at Gary’s expense. But I don’t think Gary saw it like that. I think he was genuinely delighted that we’d slow-mo’d him and thought that he looked cool. So then we’ve just done it the whole time.

It’s a running joke now, to us anyway, that Gary’s entrance is in slow-mo, but it works because everyone is happy. I find it funny. Gary thinks it’s cool. There’s nothing not to enjoy about that. The slow-mo just suits Gary, it’s perfect.

I think me and slow-mo would just be embarrassing and weird, so I’m very happy Gary gets all the attention.

River Hunters premieres in the UK on Monday, 16 May at 9pm