Why it’s great that Mackenzie Crook comedy Detectorists will be back for another series

Ben Dowell salutes a BBC4 series which was both touching and funny – and will be coming back for a second run following tonight’s on-air announcement

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For me, Detectorists has been the comedy of the year. The good news for fellow fans also feeling bereft after tonight’s finale is that it will be back for a second series. An on-air announcement (which we sharp souls at RadioTimes.com heard about beforehand) confirmed the news. The BBC knew comedy gold when it had found it.

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For the uninitiated, Detectorists is a bittersweet BBC4 six-parter written and directed by The Office star Mackenzie Crook, in which he plays metal-detecting enthusiast Andy alongside Toby Jones as best mate Lance. An incredibly sweet idea, it taps into a male hobby that is not sport (although they do drink a lot of beer) and gently teases out the gentler, softer side of masculinity. And all in beautiful, summery England.

Crook’s Andy is an aimless drifter with a dead-end job and a nice girlfriend (Rachael Stirling’s Becky – a bit out of his league if you ask me) and a passion for trudging in fields on the quest for a Saxon treasure hoard (any Saxon treasure hoard will do).

His hobby is a neat metaphor. For too much of his life Andy’s had his eyes trained on the ground, unable to look up and see the bigger picture: that Becky was the best thing in his life and that pretty history student Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) who joins the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (DMDC) was not the promising find she initially seemed to be.

As for Toby Jones: what an actor. On the face of it Lance is a happy, slightly cocky idiot but below lies another man masking pain and longing.

Theirs is a beautiful friendship, a double act that brilliantly addressed the childishness of male banter (“Immature.” “Are you?” “No you are”). Matey male double acts are a staple of many of the great comedy classics from The Likely Lads to Only Fools and Horses and I believe this one belongs in that pantheon.

Lance still runs errands for his ex-wife (played by EastEnders’ Lucy Benjamin! Where has she been all this time?) even though she has shacked up with a strapping new boyfriend. But she has rubbed Lance’s nose in it long enough and tonight he finally saw her for what she was – just one of the many satisfying things about the series finale.

It looked as lush and bucolic as ever, and was once again snappily funny in the right places. Last but not least, there was the brilliant moment at the end when they retired empty-handed to the pub, only for us to see that there is indeed a treasure hoard buried in Bishop’s Field. Maybe in series two they will find it. Comedy fans already have.

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Watch Detectorists on iPlayer