Unmissable: The search is over – the Detectorists are back

Lance (Toby Jones), Andy (Mackenzie Crook) in BBC4's Detectorists. Pic: Matt Tiller

Lance (Toby Jones), Andy (Mackenzie Crook) in BBC4's Detectorists. Pic: Matt Tiller - Credit: BBC/Channel X North and Lola Ent

It might not be cutting edge or controversial, but BBC4’s Detectorists is certainly one of the most charming, amusing and well-observed shows on TV.


And thankfully, it’s back. The second series of the Mackenzie Crook-penned show BB4 show is now on, and available on catch-up if you’ve missed the first couple of episodes.

The show follows the highs and lows – mostly lows – of two keen amateur metal detectorists as they amble across the Suffolk countryside, searching for any kind of life-changing treasure, all the while trying to deal with the women in their lives.

It’s an odd idea around which to base a sitcom, not quite in step with the modern glut of squawking zany sitcoms churned out by Channel 4 and E4 or the family based shows that still seem to be the only kind that get air time on BBC1 and ITV1.

In the first season, which aired last year, Crook’s Andy had his head turned by young history student and fellow detectorist Sophie, while neglecting to appreciate his long-time girlfriend Becky.

Meanwhile his partner in detecting, Lance (played by the wonderful Toby Jones) combined a fledgling music career with longing after his ex-wife Maggie, played by former EastEnder Lucy Benjamin, who was all set to leave town with her new man Tony.

We have rejoined Andy and Lance a whole year on from the last time we met them, and Lance is lovelorn after the departure of Maggie, but just maybe he is about to surprise everybody with a new relationship?

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Meanwhile, Andy and Becky (Rachael Stirling) are now proud parents, facing up to all the responsibilities that brings, but despite qualifying as an archaeologist, Andy is still mostly unemployed.

Filmed in Framlingham and the surrounding area, many might feel the show is gently mocking the world of metal detecting – and “sleepy Suffolk” – but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Shows like The Office send-up their subjects, with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s masterpiece identifying the exact things that create that mundane office-based environment and skewering them expertly.

But Detectorists was born out of Crook’s genuine passion for the pastime and it shines through the witty dialogue, which finds no need for expletives or over-the-top characters unsettling the show’s easygoing rhythm.

And not only is Crook, still probably best known as Gareth in The Office despite a decade of great character work, a fan of metal detecting, he’s a big fan of Suffolk too.

The 44-year-old, who writes, directs and stars in the show, said: “To be back in Suffolk filming in the glorious English countryside for a second summer was more than I could have hoped for. I’m thrilled that people warmed to the first series of Detectorists and I can’t wait to show them the next instalment.”

It’s a rather charming opportunity to forget about the cold, dark evenings of October and November and flashback to the warm sunny summer days in the Suffolk countryside.

What do you think of Detectorists? Email me at elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @Elliot_Furniss