While the core of the show – the Hoffmans – have remained, there has been turnover of personnel in their crew, and those of the other miners. Bringing new faces into the series over the past five years, as well as expanding the involvement of regular participants, such as Tony Beets, has always happened organically – enhancing the sense that this production is almost a naturally-expanding family.
“It always happens through the Hoffmans, really. We found Parker Schnabel because he lived across the creek from Todd in season one, and would come over and maybe lend them a tool. So he spent some time with the Hoffmans, and that’s how we found Parker and Parker’s grandfather. The Dakota Boys – Todd brought Fred Hurt up to help out with the mining. He ended up really rocking the boat and split off – so it’s always been people that have naturally spun off.
“So, when Parker went north, Tony Beets became his kind of mentor. You know, when you meet Tony Beets, as I have, he is TV gold. He is the manliest man I’ve ever met in my life. He could rip your arm off with his handshake. He’s been living in the Klondike for 30 years – he’s known as a legend. The way he speaks is not to be believed, and when he told me this season that he was going to buy a 75 year old gold catching dredge, take it apart, move it, rebuild it and be catching gold by the end of this season, I said “I’m in”. It was very simple for me. Plus he has an incredible family and runs a very successful mine. We also got some access to Tony’s wife, who is a force of nature, and his kid. So the more we can get family into the show, the more successful I think we are.
“Parker [Schnabel] and his grandfather have one of the most amazing relationships I’ve ever seen, and we try to get Parker’s grandfather onto the show as much as possible. Now, he’s 94, and it’s very difficult to get him up to Dawson. You know, people underestimate how far away Haines, Alaska, is from Dawson. But we do try to get Grandpa John up to see Parker one, two, three times a season. It just makes for great TV and great interaction. Parker’s very proud of what he’s done, Grandpa John wants to see what Parker’s done, and every single time, Grandpa John leaves with giving Parker some other tid-bit of advice, which Parker takes very, very seriously.”
Though the role of Executive Producer on the top-rated show on the Discovery Channel sounds like a demanding and challenging job in itself, Christo Doyle also hosts The Dirt. This ‘behind-the-scenes’ show runs immediately before Gold Rush, and aims to utilise the vast amounts of interesting footage that doesn’t make it into the main show as broadcast. It is an exceptional idea that again lends itself to the familial atmosphere of the Gold Rush series. Doyle has oversight of the production as a whole, as well as having detailed knowledge of each crew, and what they are specifically dealing with at any given time. While it is easy to imagine that these two roles may, on occasion, be in conflict, Doyle clearly feels their complimentary, supplementary nature is far more of a help than a hindrance.
“They’re two completely different jobs. You know, 99% of the time I’m the Executive Producer of the show. That’s what I do all day, every day, really. I watch cuts of Gold Rush two to three times each, I’m constantly on the phone with the production company – we’re talking about what’s been happening. I see the ‘hot sheets’ coming in each week with what we’re getting in the field. We’re constantly working on that kind of thing.
“Hosting The Dirt is something that’s definitely one of the stranger developments in my career but, it did develop because there is so much going on around this show that kind of needed to be told. There’s a huge amount that people don’t know – a huge amount that is frankly not appropriate for the show. There’s a lot of stuff that’s funny, there’s a lot of stuff that’s interpersonal stuff that’s worthwhile being told, and I also have a very unique relationship with all these guys. We have a unique rapport. You can have a lot of fun with them and [The Dirt] also rates very well, so the idea behind it is to get the viewers excited about Gold Rush. We can tease Gold Rush, we can tease what’s coming up, you know we can kind of build the audience into a frenzy, so that hopefully Gold Rush is off to a great start when it starts.”
Gold Rush may well have cleaned up in the ratings in its fifth season, but fans will be eager to learn if the crews have had similar fortunes in their final gold haul. It seems from the official press release, however, that – as usual – the job isn’t done until the final credits roll.
“Discovery Channel’s #1 rated series, Gold Rush, wraps up its record-breaking fifth season on Friday March 6th, with a 2 hour super-sized finale. It’s been a cold winter, but nothing compares to the Klondike at the end of gold season. Having set bigger goals than ever this season, the mine bosses push their crews to the limit and risk friendships, pride and money to get every last ounce of gold. Kicking off the night at 8pm ET/PT is a historic episode of The Dirt where passions will flare as Executive Producer Christo Doyle gathers all three mine bosses to discuss their mad dash to find gold. Then, following the Gold Rush finale kicking off at 9pm ET/PT, the miners will share their reactions as they watch from the set of The Dirt.”
With its fifth season drawing to a close, Gold Rush is already confirmed as returning to the Discovery Channel for season six at a later date.