Detectorists: a special is coming to BBC Two this Christmas and fans are delighted

Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones in Detectorists  (BBC)
Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones in Detectorists (BBC)

Everyone’s favourite metal detectorist series is back: after a five-year hiatus, a Detectorists Christmas special will be released on BBC Two this Boxing Day.

Fans have been, predictably, thrilled by the news, sharing their delight on Twitter - but in true understated Detectorists style.

One responded by saying, “Yey - a little cheer,” while another said, “Well, isn’t this lovely?”

A third Tweeted, “Such good news that @Detectorists is coming back! I’ve watched them all countless times and it really never fails to deliver with laughs, tears, and lots of wonderful pathos along the way.” A fourth said, “The Detectorists is one of the best things the BBC or any channel has ever produced so this is brilliant.”

Few further details have been released about the upcoming special. We know that it will be 75 minutes long, it will see Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones (who play best friend detectorists Andy and Lance) as well as Rachael Stirling (who plays Becky, Andy’s wife) reuniting on screen, and that it really is a one-off.

Speaking to the Radio Times in November, Crook, who wrote and directed the series, said: “It’s been five years since the third series of Detectorists was broadcast – at the time I thought that would probably be the last of it. I had left the characters in a good place with bright futures ahead of them and decided to only disturb them again if a really good story occurred to me.

“Then, about year ago, a really good story occurred to me. It was a story that I thought would suit a single, feature-length episode rather than a series.” After making sure that Jones - who apparently gasped when Crook revealed the special’s twist - was onboard, Crook “got the band back together one last time and, at the end of August, headed out to the beautiful Suffolk countryside.”

Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook in Detectorists (BBC)
Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook in Detectorists (BBC)

Detectorists follows the lives of the two metal detecting enthusiasts. It really is as sweet as it sounds: they live in the fictional town of Danebury which is set in northern Essex and are part of The Danebury Metal Detecting Club. The show (which was released in 2014, 2015 and 2017) won a BAFTA in 2015 and Jones won a Best Male Comedy Performance BAFTA for his portrayal of Lance in 2018.

Over the past several years, the Detectorists’ fanbase has been expanding. Crook said: “It seems the initial fondness for Detectorists has only grown, as more people have found the show.”

In a Guardian interview released this week, Jones said: “Loads of people have contacted me and contacted [Crook] during lockdown about what a comfort and a consolation they found the show. The writing is kind of faultless.”

In a 2015 New York Times review, Mike Hale said that the Detectorists was “part of a long tradition of British comedies about daft eccentrics,” adding that, “instead of going in the direction of noisy farce, it’s dreamy and steeped in melancholy, with a hint of the charm.”

“It’s a distinctive creation,” he said. “Not for everyone, but bound to be fiercely loved by those who fall into its rhythms.”

In 2019, Detectorists was listed in the Radio Times’ round-up of the 20 best British TV sitcoms of all time, alongside classics such as Fawlty Towers, The Office, Blackadder and Absolutely Fabulous.

Jones seems to have a knack for choosing excellent roles. He started his career acting in Sally Potter’s 1992 period drama Orlando and has since had a varied career acting in series and films including Harry Potter, Frost/Nixon, Dad’s Army, Journey’s End and Sherlock.

And 2022 has been a particularly busy year for the actor: as well as his return to the Detectorists, he has had roles in the BBC series The English, in Sam Mendes’ romance film Empire of Light, in Netflix’s Christian Bale-starring gothic thriller The Pale Blue Eye, in the Netflix period drama The Wonder (alongside Florence Pugh) and in the Paul Wade and Simon Wade-directed short film A Moral Man.

The Detectorists Christmas special will be released on BBC Two on December 26, at 9pm