4 out of 5 stars
I am normally late to most things, but by the time that I had noticed the buzz about the Detectorists the final series had ended. Thankfully BBC4 repeated them and recorded them to watch at some point in the future. Not sure how it happened, but I had some spare time one evening and sat down to watch the first episode from the first series and before I knew it I had watched four of them. I had finished watching them all a couple of nights later.
To say I loved it would be an understatement, Makenzie Crook has made something wonderful here about the simple complexities of human relationships and male friendships and intimacies. The plot focuses on two friends who share a passion for metal detecting, it is normally a fairly lonely hobby, but this is for them a shared hobby. This simple but beautiful comedy had great appeal to people from all walks of life.
It also tapped into various themes that many people found appealing, in particular the way people react to their local landscapes. Some just find it a pleasant place to walk, others see the landscape as a timeline of history stretching way back over millennia, that if you know where and how to look at it, the secrets can be found. These themes are picked up in the four sections of this book, Joanne Norcup considers how gender in the series relates to knowledge and expertise, Andrew Harris writes about how we look at the landscape in the search for clues. Isla Forsyth looks at how the memory works when seen in the context of place and objects and Innes M. Keighren writes about how the characters of the comedy interpret their beloved landscape.
The book is a celebration of the mundane, the items that they find are the casts offs and detritus from normal life, but it as much about the love that the two main characters have trying to read the landscape and find that elusive treasure and the boat burial. But as hopeless as these some times amusing objects are, there is still a story behind all of them. It considers just why (mostly) men would want to spend time waving an electronic device over a barren field and asks if they are there to discover the history of the place or to give some escape or breathing space in a relationship. It is also quite rare, as there is no mocking of the characters for doing what they love, rather it is an acknowledgement that people can be generous about people and their hobby.
I really liked this book, it doesn’t feel too academic in its prose either, which is a relief, as it could so easily of done so. By exploring the gentle themes from the series and expands on them, filling in the details of the character and the landscape which they are searching for objects and mostly understanding. If you liked The Detectorists, then you’ll probably like this too.