It’s only episode 2 of the current series of Detectorists and already we can see the wheels in motion that will bring this story to a climax. The farmer’s fields that Andy (writer, director and star Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (the wonderfully versatile Toby Jones) have been searching for five years finally being to reveal its secrets in the form of a handful of Roman coins. The boys are finally getting close. But then so is the looming deadline – their permission to search this patch of blissful countryside is over forever in just 6 short weeks. Photon Harvest Solar Electricity (a name so ridiculous it sounds entirely plausible) will have their solar panels in place and it’ll be game over for our favourite detectorists.
Happily our least favourite detectorists are back too in the form of Simon Farnaby as Art (Horrible Histories is poorer without his talents) and Paul Casar as Paul aka the dastardly duo of Simon and Garfunkel. They come waving the white flag and assure Lance and Andy that all they want to do is share permissions and work together. To which Lance and Andy respond with schoolboy teasing, of course. Simon and Garfunkel deserve nothing more.
They are still up to their tricks as we see in their club meeting. Sadly the Dirt Sharks are no more and their new name is Terra Firma (Paul’s suggestion of the spelling Terror is shot down). They’re faking their finds with the help of eBay, and have no plans to turn over a new leaf anytime soon. The contrast between the two clubs is lovely; the bright interior of the scout hut, endless cups of tea and laughter as Lance tells a story to the DMDC that restores faith in humanity and is gently ribbed by Sheila encouraged by her devoted husband Terry. While the cocky preening Terra Firma club are in a dingy shadowy pub laughing and bullying poor Paul who’s somehow messed up again.
Speaking of bad guys, there’s a sinister foreman at Andy’s regular job – the archeology dig. As is typical these days, it’s been set up by industry who want them to hurry up and get on with it so they can build whatever it is they want to build. Ideally they’d find nothing so that progress doesn’t have to be pushed back for the sake of history. Tim (played by Tim Key) hides the beautiful tiled floor Andy has found as soon as important people show up to the site. In episode 1 I thought maybe he was just inept – Tim Key rather lends himself to that sort of kindly bumbling character. Now we see that he’s playing against type and we suspect he’s corrupt. Andy, bless him, is too excited by his find and generally too kind and trusting to see what’s going on in front of his eyes.
Lane is still struggling with his daughter Kate (Alexa Davies, just about recognisable from the excellent and much missed Raised by Wolves) who has turned his ordered and orderly bachelor pad into chaos. She must be well aware of what she’s doing to him as she send him on a wild squirrel hunt, a diversion that tickled me watching Toby Jones throw himself around for a few moments of physical comedy. Lance would love to spend time on the canal boat with his girlfriend Toni (Rebecca Callard) but his seasickness gets in the way. Very funny, haha, let’s all laugh at weedy Lance… but I’ve had problems with dizziness after a few days on the canal, so all my sympathy is with him on this one. Those boats rock around much more than you’d think! Toni suggests hypnosis so Lance goes along despite serious misgivings. The things we do for love. His fear of hypnosis lingers – his hunched defensive body language remains even after finding out the hypnotherapist doesn’t have tye-dye wall hangings and won’t make him think he’s Elvis Presley.
I was hoping we might get to see more of their home life in this episode, but this week was all business, setting up the inevitable conflicts to come. How will things play out for the good guys from the DMDC against the combined forces of Photon Harvest and Terra Firma? Please, let them have a happy ending!
Detectorists Continues Wednesday at 10.00pm on BBC Four.