Detectorists… And Now for Something Completely Different!

Andy and Lance - Detectorists

Are you looking for something a little different to watch on TV? Tired of what you normally watch? Maybe just looking to diversify your viewing experience? If so, then I have a recommendation that might just fit the bill!

If you have ever read my articles, you would know I normally focus on action-adventure shows, including crime dramas, horror, and sci-fi/fantasy programming. I do also enjoy a good comedy but don’t usually write about them. So, I guess it is about time to expand my horizons!

Detectorists is a charming British comedy-drama that is extremely entertaining and was first broadcast on October 2, 2014 by the BBC Four network. It is written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who also stars in it. You may recognize him from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but he has also been a guest star on Game of Thrones and Almost Human. His costar is Toby Jones, who appeared in the first season of Wayward Pines as well as the Captain America movies.

The program is set in the fictional small town of Danebury, Essex. If like me you are not familiar with British geography, Essex in on the eastern coast of England, just north of London. The name is actually derived from an Old English term literally meaning East Saxons, which makes sense because what is now Essex was the eastern kingdom of the Saxons. I mention this because the search for Saxon gold and artifacts plays heavily into the plot, which follows the lives, relationships and detecting dreams of Andy and Lance, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club.

Being a British show, the seasons are very short by American standards – just six episodes each, with episodes having a run time of approximately 30 minutes. The second season is premiering on April 4, 2016 at Acorn.TV and on a variety of devices. Acorn TV is the premier streaming service for world-class television from Britain and beyond from RLJ Entertainment. Season one is available on DVD; season two is available on DVD for pre-order. I was able to view both seasons one and two, and thoroughly enjoyed them. It left me wishing the seasons had more episodes!


Danebury Metal Detecting Club - Detectorists

Most TV shows nowadays seem to have quirky characters. In fact, I could argue successfully that every TV show that is popular now has at least one character that is a bit different. On Detectorists, the two main characters, Andy and Lance, at first appear to be the quirky ones. However, as new characters are introduced, each one seems odder than the last. In fact, every member of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club is delightfully atypical.

As the show unfolds, there is a tantalizing reveal of Andy’s and Lance’s unique layers. Both men are very intelligent and seriously underemployed. Andy is studying to be an archaeologist in the first season. In the meantime, he works with a temp agency and does daily manual labor jobs as they become available. Lance drives a forklift at what I would call a vegetable distribution center. Both men are very fond of quiz shows, and in fact participate in the local quiz challenge at the pub and always win.

Ordinary Life Made Interesting

Lance - Detectorists

I once heard a TV star talk about how his program, which was an action-adventure sci-fi show, would become boring if two characters were to marry and then just have the show follow their everyday lives. While I agree with that sentiment for an action-adventure show, ordinary life on other shows can actually be quite interesting as they delve into human needs and desires. While TV tends to exaggerate real life drama to make it more interesting for the viewer, there is in many cases a kernel of truth in the events portrayed.

On Detectorists, the main characters and those in their orbit all have hopes and dreams. Those dreams don’t have to be grand dreams, but in the case of Andy and Lance, their dream is pretty huge! They both hope to find Saxon artifacts, remains, and gold! In fact, they talk about the “gold dance” that Detectorists are known for doing when they find gold.

The life journey in their case meanders, as they seem to be close to a major find only to abandon it after finding another “pull ring.” It is the struggle between their dreams and the reality of life that makes this show so very compelling.

Plus, who knew that metal detecting could be quite so cutthroat and downright dangerous? As they go about their detecting, they end up in the grip of conflicts with people bent on desecrating protected sites for personal gain. Betrayal and treachery lead to strife and excitement among the characters.

Funny With an Edge

Andy and Lance - Detectorists

I very much enjoy subtle and snarky humor and Detectorists delivers for me! While it is classified as a comedy-drama, it is not a laugh out loud type of comedy. The humor is there, to be sure, with sight gags, character comedy, and situational comedy, but don’t expect to be rolling on the floor in tears. But that’s ok!

What is there is the skillful juxtaposition of elements like the sometimes utterly lifeless Club events with the sometimes comedic action of a late night stakeout, done in a style that only the Danebury Metal Detecting Club can muster.

In addition, watching the characters utter exasperation every time they are called metal detectors, followed by calmly correcting the errant speaker that they are Detectorists, not detectors, is well played indeed. Their reactions to the events happening around them vary from bemused to outraged and everything in between.


I highly recommend you give this show a chance – you will not regret it! If you do watch it, please be sure to come back and tell me what you think. I love hearing what you have to say!