“I HAVE got the best job in the world – I just enjoy it so much.”
Chatting to Salvage Hunter Drew Pritchard, it’s clear the passion that first gripped him as a boy is just as alive today.
“I get to wander around the country, meet interesting people, find beautiful things and make a living,” he says.
Drew and sidekick John Tee, stars of the Quest TV show, were filming at O’Brien’s Salvage in Boldon yesterday.
“I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t rummaging through skips and scrapyards, and I always wanted to be a dealer from the age of 11,” he says.
“My dad was a signwriter but he was a keen amateur artist as well and he dragged me round every art gallery in Europe when I was a kid, teaching me about art, about shape, form and colour.”
“I get to wander around the country, meet interesting people, find beautiful things and make a living.”Drew Pritchard
Salvage Hunters is the biggest attraction on the Discovery network in the UK, and attracts an audience of 12 million across Europe, a fact Drew puts down to the integrity of the production.
“We are just two lads from Wales in a van,” he says.
“There is really not much more to it than that – we just love doing it.”
Doing the show takes its toll on the dealers, however, with Drew genuinely seeing the merchandise for the first time when the cameras start to roll. “People are very patient with us,” he says. “To make eight minutes of television takes us 12 hours because we don’t set anything up in advance, we don’t make anything up and we don’t script anything, so it takes a long time – but I wouldn’t do it any other way,” he says.
The commitment to reality extends to the funding for purchases on the show. It really is Drew’s cash on the line and he is the winner – or loser – on every deal.
He is scathing about other shows which litter the daytime TV schedules.
“There are only two shows where people use their own money,” he says.
“That’s me and Four Rooms. All the others are using the production company’s money.”
Even with Drew’s experience, second-guessing public taste can be risky.
“We don’t get it right all the time,” he admits. “Sometimes you find something and you think ‘This is going to fly’ – two years later, you’re still looking at it.”
The North East is a fertile hunting ground: “This is the fourth time we’ve filmed up here,” says Drew.
“There was a lot of money up here in the 19th century and some very, very grand buildings.”
Before he returned to filming, Drew broke off to sign an autograph for starstruck Philip Peel.
Twenty-three-year-old Philip, who lives close to the O’Brien’s yard, spotted Drew in his trademark cap and brought daughter Ruby Kate in her pushchair to say hello.
Philip admits he found himself unexpectedly hooked on Salvage Hunters.
“The show is really good,” he says.
“It was just something random to watch to start with but then I really got into it.”