A TV presenter has praised the contribution of a Durham-based diver and academic to a new series on underwater archaeology.

The first episode of River Hunters, in which experts search the UK’s waterways for archaeological finds, is on the History channel at 9pm tonight (Monday).

The show features American Youtube personality Beau Ouimette, a river detectorist with over 30 years’ experience, performing underwater archaeological digs in some of the most historical sites in Britain, often in dangerous and fast-flowing water.

Gary Bankhead, a North-East firefighter and academic, appears as the expert advisor in five of the eight episodes – including two filmed in the region, in Durham and Barnard Castle.

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The series is presented by Rick Edwards, presently hosting Impossible Celebrities on BBC1, who recently told BT TV that Mr Bankhead was the most interesting person he met during filming.

He said: “He’s one of the only people in the UK who is an underwater archaeologist.

“He’s at Durham University, so he spends a lot of time diving around there. It’s a rarity, people just haven’t done it, and he has, so his expertise was just really invaluable.

“He was with us for quite a few episodes, which was very handy, because Beau knows a lot about the stuff he finds in America, and American history, but much less about British history, so it was good having Gary there.”

Mr Bankhead will make his River Hunters debut in episode two, centred around the River Avon, due for broadcast on the History UK channel next Monday, March 25, at 9pm