Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Discovery Channel's Dozer Dave is back on the hunt for gold

Dave Turin tells us why he’s back after two years off our screens

Dave Turin, centre, will reopen and manage a mine to help rebuild a local community. Courtesy Discovery Networks
Dave Turin, centre, will reopen and manage a mine to help rebuild a local community. Courtesy Discovery Networks

When Dave Turin, aka “Dozer Dave” quit the Discovery Channel’s gold-hunting adventure Gold Rush in 2017, after a dramatic on-screen bust-up with a fellow team member, he seemed like he was done with the TV world for good. However, he’s now back on our screens with his own spin-off, Dave Turin’s Lost Mines, and he seems to have calmed down following his fraught final scenes on the previous show.

“I always knew that it would end, the TV part of it,” Turin says matter-of-factly. “I relate it back to an athlete – you know, an athlete has a certain number of years and when his career’s over it’s over. And I always expected that to happen on the TV, but I thought I was going to do it on my own terms. And the way it ended was really bad for everybody. It was very dramatic and so with that, I never thought I would go back.”

Back he is, and perhaps we shouldn’t really be too surprised. “I always enjoy mining; I enjoy searching and the journey of finding gold. I knew that would continue,” he explains. “But as I was prospecting and doing this gold search, it was just compelling and somebody advised me that people want to know what I was doing. So I thought, well, I’ll just keep people informed with Facebook, and then we started a YouTube channel and it gained momentum, it gained popularity.

“People still wanted to see me out there prospecting and it’s just an adventure, it’s a journey. It’s like treasure hunting. And people wanted to be a part of it.”

Turin’s social media channels rapidly grew in popularity over the next couple of years, so it was only a matter of time until the show’s producers approached him about a return to Discovery.

Turin wasn’t interested in simply doing a Gold Rush spin-off, however: “As I travelled around the United States, I saw so much history and as I travelled the world through Gold Rush, I saw communities and cultures and families and towns that relied on this mining,” Turin says. “And when the mine went away that culture would go away or the community would go away. A lot of the towns are ghost towns because the mining, the gold, left, or they didn’t have proper techniques to get the gold. And so as I travelled around I thought: ‘The history’s amazing.’ And if ... I can help a community or culture come back or thrive – I was just intrigued by that and I thought, that would really make some good TV.”

The result is that Turin’s new project looks much deeper into the histories of the towns he visits, and the social effects of the gold rush and its aftermath. There’s a much more person-centred, community-led approach. Turin will even go to the extent of reopening a mine and taking on its day-to-day running in the hope of rebuilding the local community.

Now, there have been no shortage of great dramas based around people’s day jobs – lawyers have LA Law, doctors have ER, even the humble journalist has had his or her life portrayed as far more exciting than it probably is in the likes of Spotlight. I can’t think of a single show or film based on the day-to-day management of a decrepit old gold mine in small-town America, however. Is Turin convinced it will make good TV?

“There are several things that go into good TV,” he says. “I think the number one thing that makes good TV is the people, and there’s real consequences to what we’re doing and what we do really makes a difference. In other words, if I find gold or I don’t find gold it really makes a difference in these men’s lives. If we don’t find gold these fellows aren’t going to have a real good Christmas.

“[The audience] falls in love with us as individuals, as a team. It’s like you’re pulling for the underdog. And that’s what makes good TV. Plus everybody loves to see gold on TV,” he says.

Turin may have a point, but surely people would much rather see gold in their hand than on TV. Turin estimates that only around 20 per cent of the gold in America has so far been successfully mined, so I end our conversation by asking what advice our resident expert would give to an aspiring prospector like myself, who fancies striking it rich.

[The audience] falls in love with us as individuals, as a team. It’s like you’re pulling for the underdog. And that’s what makes good TV. Plus everybody loves to see gold on TV.

Dave Turin

“You’ve got to go where the old timers were. You’ve got to go where there’s history and evidence of other people that went before us, because they were really good prospectors, and so you need to go find an area that has historically produced gold,” he says.

“Then you have to go and be smarter. It’s almost like you have to be a Sherlock Holmes detective to find out what they were doing, but then also find out what they left behind.

“Because a lot of times what the old timers left behind, they left it behind for several reasons. Maybe it wasn’t good enough grade. Maybe it was too difficult for them. And so you start piecing it together like a detective story, and sometimes you’re successful and then sometimes the old timers got it and you don’t. So that’s what’s smart about it: putting the whole story together.”

Dave Turin’s Lost Mine begins on Discovery Channel today at 9pm

Updated: May 2, 2019 01:15 PM

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