In a recent interview, writer, director and star Mackenzie Crook said he doesn’t like his comedy The Detectorists being described as gentle. That’s a bit of shame really as that’s how I was going to start this piece. This six-part little gem is a gentle, warm comedy that I wished we’d raved about more when it was being shown earlier this month on BBC4. It goes without saying that Crook and co-star Toby Jones are brilliant together but it’s the humanity of the comedy and the story that shines through here and makes it one of the best comedies in recent memory.
Crook plays Andy, a man who spends his time languishing in empty fields with his metal detector and his friend Lance. They’re not metal detectors they’re ‘detectorists.’ They belong to the Danebury Metal Detecting club and they share the common dream of uncovering the final resting
place of King Sexred, a wealthy East Saxon King. It’s possibly the most original premise for comedy in recent memory, and on paper possibly the least interesting, but in a time where comedy is big and
brash and in your face, The Detectorists provides a warm alternative. This is the complete antithesis of the big, colourful and unfunny comedies the mainstream channels offer like Mrs. Brown’s Boys and Citizen Khan. The humour on offer here is wonderfully understated and real.
There’s little not to like here, the characters are so well observed and the world they inhabit feels incredibly real. Crook has a great ear for one-liners and whilst you may not be rolling on the floor in
hysterics, there are some genuinely funny lines. The sub-plot that see young girl Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) join the club and cause friction between Andy and girlfriend Becky (Rachel Stirling) and Lance’s attempts to woo back ex-wife Maggie (Lucy Benjamin) pad out the story, but in truth I just enjoyed spending time with Andy and Lance as they trawled fields with their precious detectors.
The BBC have recently confirmed a second series which I’m chuffed about and I hope more will start raving about this new comedy and I hope more people unearth this hidden gem.
The Detectorists is now available on DVD.