TV Review: Detectorists Christmas Special, BBC4

Not much in the way of tinsel in this seasonal special, but there is definitely something shiny. It’s the Anglo-Saxon treasure that Lance has unearthed. At the start of this welcome extra episode it is on display in the British Museum. But the find appears to have come with strings attached. Has Lance fallen victim to ‘the curse of the gold’?

As you would expect from this gentle series there are no earth-shaking moments. For a while though I did wonder if they were going to go down the MR James traditional Christmas ghost story angle. I think that would have been great and perfectly appropriate, but after a couple of brief chills and unexpected happenings it’s business as usual.

Andy (Mackenzie Crook) is briefly back from his new job in Botswana but this is very much Lance’s story. Toby Jones, as ever, gets the tone bang on as quietly lovelorn Lance. When his car starts spitting out black smoke he encounters a new mechanic called Toni (Rebecca Callard) and it looks likes there might be some romantic sparks on the horizon, but everything is played down. For now anyway.

Perhaps the weirdest encounter is when Lance is back in the British Museum and meets an expert called Alan Chub (Colin Michael Carmichael) who looks like he has stepped out of a 1970s sitcom, all Richard O’Sullivan hair and lambchop sideburns. For some reason this scene is much weirder than any of the spooky nonsense elsewhere. Maybe he was supposed to be the ghost of Christmas sitcoms past.

On iPlayer here.

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