PATIENCE is key if you want to a) be a detectorist or b) be a fan of Detectorists.
This gentlest of gentle comedies returned this week after a two-year gap but unlike, say, the wait for Game of Thrones, there was none of the wild speculation about where the show was going, what would happen or who would get burned alive by a dragon.
That’s because not an awful lot happens in Detectorists.
Centred around bumbling but ultimately well-meaning friends Lance and Andy and their ‘adventures’ while rambling across the beautiful Suffolk countryside with their metal detectors, the show has proved to be a surprise hit, breaking BBC Four ratings records and deservedly winning a Bafta.
Key to the programme’s success is the delightful writing of creator Macenzie Crook, who as well as portraying Andy imbues the show with a droll wryness that is so grounded in real life that it is easy to forget Danebury isn’t a real village perpetually enjoying the warmest of summers.
It also feels like a very male comedy. Lance (Toby Jones) and Andy talk about sheds, who they’d invite to a dinner party (“Kurt Cobain?” offers Andy. “Oh yeah, he’d be a good laugh, he was known for his sparkling dinner party conversation,” says Lance) and spend a lot of time in the pub staring at their pints.
Women meanwhile are something of a puzzle. Andy lives with his girlfriend Becky and her mum who thinks he’s lazy and not good enough for her daughter.
Lance has a girlfriend too but she lives on a barge and staying there makes him seasick and causes “the runs”. His daughter’s moved in but she can’t slice cheese properly and keeps inviting friends back from the pub.
Grappling with all these small real-life problems and unsatisfactory outcomes (mirrored in their underwhelming archeological finds) feels very British, especially when you throw in the countryside setting and beautiful folky soundtrack courtesy of The Unthanks and Johnny Flynn.
Crook has said this third series will be the last, so enjoy Detectorists while you can.
It might be the best discovery you ever make.