TV: Detectorists, BBC4

MacKenzie Crook

Golden Era For Sitcoms?

Writer, director and star Mackenzie Crook has said that this is the last series of Detectorists. If that's the case it will be a great shame. There really is nothing like it on television at the moment. In an era of hard-faced, smug, knowing comedy this lovely series following the countryside lives of a group of metal detecting enthusiasts and co-starring Toby Jones is a shining beacon of uncynical, gentle humour.

In the opening episode Andy (Crook) and his chum Lance (Toby Jones) are facing some domestic changes. Andy and his wife Becky (Rachael Stirling) are temporarily living with Becky's mum, played by Diana Rigg. Lance, meanwhile, has problems with his girlfriend Toni (Rebecca Callard). And he has his daughter Kate (Alexa Davies) staying with him, which is not easy. She cuts chunks off the cheese for starters so he has to throw the odd-shaped bits away.

While there might be some cheddar chucked out not a word is wasted. The programme is not afraid of long silences as Andy and Lance shoot the breeze in the sunshine. Lance wonders if there should be a Nobel prize for metal detecting, Andy wonders who he would invite to his fantasy dinner party. Not Kurt Cobain unless heroin is being served.

There are big changes afoot, however, with the prospect of a solar farm altering the face of the fictional Essex* village of Danebury. And on top of that Andy is working on a thankless archaeology dig near Colchester – just as you think the programme can't get any better there is a typically scene-stealing cameo from Tim Key as a jobsworth site manager.

I don't know about Nobel prizes for metal detecting but there should certainly be TV prizes for this gem of a series.

Detectorists, BBC4, 10pm from Wednesday, November 8.

*It's filmed around Framlingham in Suffolk.

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