Mackenzie Crook’s Detectorists was last year’s sleeper hit. His BBC4 sitcom about metal detecting enthusiasts Andy and Lance, played by himself and Toby Jones, charmed viewers and bagged a Bafta for best scripted comedy into the bargain.
And the great news is it returns tonight.
We caught up with him on set to find out what’s in store, and whether the man who found fame as obnoxious Gareth Keenan in The Office plans to work with Ricky Gervais again….
RadioTimes.com: So many people loved Detectorists. It was a beautifully tender show that showed a different side to masculinity and yet also made us laugh out loud. I can’t think of a comedy that has done this in quite the same way.
Mackenzie Crook: Thank you. The first series of Detectorists turned out exactly as I’d seen it in my head and I couldn’t have been happier with the reception it got.
RadioTimes.com: What can we expect from the second series?
Mackenzie Crook: It has been really important to keep the elements of the show that people seemed to warm to. So the tone will be the same. There will be no car chases or drug deals in series two.
RadioTimes.com: Did the love people had for the show add to the pressure when writing and filming the second series or was it easier to do?
Mackenzie Crook: It actually made it easier. I could start to write the second series without having to introduce the characters, just get straight into the story and know (or hope) that the audience was with me.
RadioTimes.com: What was your favourite moment from the first series and why?
Mackenzie Crook: I wrote a joke where Andy’s girlfriend is berating him for always looking at the ground. Then we cut to Andy and Lance detecting in a field, oblivious as the Red Arrows fly directly overhead. [See clip below.]
It’s very easy to write a scene like that but much harder to film it. Our budget didn’t stretch to nine jet fighter planes. It’s a scene I assumed I’d have to compromise on, but we managed to do it and it’s one of my favourites bits. That and the final sequence of episode six which, again, I wrote but didn’t really think we’d be able to do.
RadioTimes.com: Were you surprised at the reaction to the first series?
Mackenzie Crook: It was the reaction I’d hoped for but didn’t necessarily expect. But I was thrilled that there are other people out there into the same things as me.
RadioTimes.com: What surprised you the most?
Mackenzie Crook: When the series had been announced, but not yet broadcast, I kept an eye on the online metal detecting forums. The hobbyists were nervous. They were worried that they were going to be portrayed as idiots. But I think we won them over and the show is fondly held in the detecting community – something that’s very important to me.
RadioTimes.com: What does the new series hold for Andy and Lance?
Mackenzie Crook: More of the same but different. Some good signals, some iffy. Some pearls of wisdom, some nuggets of crap.
RadioTimes.com: Can you give us any kind of clue as to what’s in Bishop’s Field?
Mackenzie Crook: What lies in Bishop’s Field stays in Bishop’s Field. Andy and Lance have moved on and whoever it was they came so close to discovering will get to rest for another thousand years.
RadioTimes.com: Are Simon and Garfunkel going to reappear?
Mackenzie Crook: Oh yes. The most pathetic of baddies. There are a few jokes to be squeezed out of them yet…
RadioTimes.com: And what about Lucy Benjamin as Lance’s gold-digging ex, Maggie? Has he shaken her off or will she reappear?
Mackenzie Crook: I’m gutted to say that Maggie and [her new husband] Tony won’t be back. It was a horrible decision to make as those characters were among my favourites. But to allow Lance’s character to move on I had to have them move away. I’m sure there must be a spin-off series though.
RadioTimes.com: Your career has been stratospheric since The Office…. Do you think you will work with Ricky Gervais again? Would you like to?
Mackenzie Crook: ‘Stratospheric’ you say? No, no, no. Really The Office obviously opened lots of doors for me and I have been working ever since. If that hadn’t come along who knows what I’d be doing now? I’d love to work with Ricky or Stephen again. I can’t think now what that project might be but I’ve not been able to predict any of the last twenty years.
RadioTimes.com: Immature. Are you? (That’s not a question, just one of my favourite lines.) The real question is: How would you get on with Andy yourself?
Mackenzie Crook: Andy is not a stretch for me to play. He is really just a more infuriating version of myself. He gets away with stuff I couldn’t. I think I’d want to give him a slap and tell him to buck his ideas up.