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Lance and Andy discover a Roman spearhead

Lance: Metal detecting is the closest you'll get to time travel. See, archaeologists, they gather up the facts, piece the jigsaw together, work out how we lived and find the buildings we lived in, but what we do is... that's different. We unearth the scattered memories, mine for stories, fill in the personality. Detectorists. We're time travellers.
Andy: Yeah, all right. I'll give you that one.
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2014 British sitcom about metal detecting enthusiasts, written by, directed by, and starring Mackenzie Crook.

Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones play Andy and Lance, two normal blokes who are amateur metal detectorists from the quaint English town of Danebury. They enjoy nothing more than wandering around the fields together looking for ancient artefacts with their metal detectors, talking about their lives and local history. Both they and the other members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club dream of unearthing some Roman or Saxon gold one day.

Featuring sumptuous Scenery Porn of the English countryside, a great Ensemble Cast, lovingly drawn characters and gentle folksy soundtrack, the show became something of a Sleeper Hit. A second series was aired in 2015, with a Christmas special airing that year. A third and final season aired in December 2017. The show won a BAFTA award for best situation comedy in 2015 and Crook himself won the BAFTA for best comedy writing.

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  • Alliterative Name: Many of the other metal detecting clubs in nearby towns seem to have adopted these.
  • Ascended Extra: Russell and Hugh get their own storyline in series 2.
  • Amicable Exes: Lance and Maggie in Series 1, who see each other nearly every day despite the fact that they're divorced. Deconstructed quite brutally by the end though: Lance hangs around and does boring domestic tasks that Maggie's new husband doesn't want to bother with in the futile hope that she'll come back to him one day, while Maggie is just using Lance for free labour and mainly keeps him around because she learned about his lottery win and hopes she can convince him to give her some of his money. Fortunately Lance comes to his senses and stops supporting them, resulting in Maggie and Tony being Put on a Bus for Series 2.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Antiquisearchers/Dirt Sharks are based at the creepy White Horse pub.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Phil when his beloved Arado is run over by Lance's car.
    • Lance when his gold coin is stolen by a magpie.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Peter the German. Initially set up as a nice guy and potential love interest for Sophie it's eventually revealed that he's been lying to the DMDC all along and is in league with the Dirtsharks to loot the crash site. In the final episode it's revealed that he's banned from owning a metal detector in Germany due to disturbing war graves and he has a confrontation with Terry where he sneeringly tries to pull a Not So Different.
  • Bookends:
    • Series 2 begins with a flashback to a medieval monk burying a jewel, and ends with Lance digging it up again.
    • Becky makes a joke in the first series that Lance and Andy are forever looking down and never see anything above them; there's then a Gilligan Cut where they are completely oblivious to a fighter aircraft fly-by. Becomes a Brick Joke in the third series when it transpires that a tree under which they frequently have lunch is stuffed with the remains of a hoard that have been picked up and put in the magpie's nests.
  • British Brevity: Nineteen half-hour episodes only.
  • Butch Lesbian: Louise has quite masculine mannerisms (when seated she seems to favour manspreading, for example) and is quite a dominating figure, especially when compared to her girlfriend Varde.
  • Call-Back: Given the nature of the show's writing as a rolling narrative rather than self-contained episodes, there are many callbacks to details in previous episodes.
  • The Captain: Terry is a retired police officer and fulfils this role for the DMDC.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Everybody who encounters Phil and Paul either outright points out the Simon & Garfunkel resemblance, or says something along the lines of "D'you reckon they look a bit like..."
  • Christmas Episode: One was produced in between series 2 and 3 when Andy briefly returns from his dig in Botswana and Lance is struggling with the so-called "curse of the gold". There is dismal weather, festive decorations and a tingling of the supernatural amongst the DMDC as they huddle around the pub fire.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Larry Bishop and Sheila.
  • Commitment Issues: Andy, of the "scared of change" variety, with some added self-esteem issues about whether he's good enough for Becky. To his credit he's actually the first to bring up marriage when he pulls himself together at the end of series 1, but gives a deafeningly wordless response to Becky asking if any more of their long-term plans, other than the Africa trip, that he wasn't fully serious about when he made them.
  • Cool Old Lady: Becky's mum. Although quite prickly and looking down somewhat on Andy's station in life, she realises they're a loving couple and great parents and she's only too happy to support them.
  • Country Matters: Lance describes Tony as such in a beautifully underplayed fashion.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Much of Lance and Andy's idle banter features this quite heavily.
    Lance: If you could invite any six people to a dinner party, who would it be? Anyone from history. Alive or dead.
    Andy: Alive, probably.
    Lance: You know what I mean.
    Andy: I know who I wouldn't invite; Stephen Fry or Jesus. They get invited to these imaginary dinner parties all the time.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Lance is this to Kate, as her mother left Lance and went back to Ireland when she got pregnant, apparently not wanting to bring the child up with him.
    • In a case of Disappeared Granddad, Peter asks DMDC to help him find a WWII plane that crashed and killed his grandfather. Then it's revealed that nobody died in the crash, meaning that Peter's grandfather never returned home after the war ended ... or at least, that's what he leads the DMDC to believe.
    • We only ever see Becky's mother, who at one point mentions that Becky "never had a good dad", but we don't get any more detail than that.
  • The Ditz: Hugh, who seems to misunderstand everything.
  • Drink Order: Most of the cast stick to beer at their local, but Sheila never appears to order the same drink twice.
  • Expo Speak Gag: The following sounds precisely like Techno Babble but since Shown Their Work is in effect, it's all correct jargon.
    Andy: How's it going?
    Lance: Choppy. I was getting nothing but iffies and pops so I cranked up the discrimination, dropped her down a cog, wound her up full chat. You?
    Andy: Yeah. She was just giving me chatter on the long arm so sunk out the threshold and cheated a couple of ground inches on the back nine.
    Lance: Anything?
    Andy: Hot rocks and grots.
  • Forbidden Zone: Mr Bishop warns the detectorists not to go digging up the lower paddock. Terry disregards this advice and gets blown up by a WW2 bomb. He survives, though.
  • Foreshadowing: In each series, the audience are shown where treasure is hidden whereas Lance and Andy are of course subject to the Rule of Perception and have to find it for themselves.
    • In the first series, Becky correctly pinpoints the likely site of a Saxon ship burial using her knowledge of geography, but they fail to find the hoard.
    • The second series opens with the burying of some religious paraphernalia a thousand years ago. Lance discovers the remains of it at the end.
    • In the third series we see a flashback to an ancient burial in the field Lance and Andy are searching through. However, the foreshadowing is right at the start of the first episode and in a completely different context; "For centuries, man has looked for the earth's bounty below the ground... the treasure, ladies and gentlemen, is very much above our heads".
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    Andy: What you found?
    Lance: BOAT.
    Andy: A boat?
    Lance: No, B.O.A.T. Bit off a tractor. You not heard that one before?
    Andy: No, 'cause you just made it up.
  • Geodesic Cast: The whole DMDC seems to be made up of duos: Lance and Andy, Russell and Hugh, Terry and Sheila, and Louise and Varde. Sophie initially disrupts the set-up by forming a Power Trio with Lance and Andy, but in series 2 she's paired off with Peter. Even the rival club is represented by "Simon and Garfunkel".
  • Giver of Lame Names: The Psycho Rangers have called themselves variously "The Antiquisearchers", "The Dirt Sharks" and "Terra Firma", being mocked every time. At one point they're asked what they rejected from their shortlist, and Phil mentions that they considered "Dirt Surfers".
  • Gold Digger: Mags, Lance's ex-wife, and Tony, her new partner, become this after hearing of Lance's lottery win.
  • Gold Fever: A large chunk of the premise, albeit in a quaint English-countryside way. They even have a 'gold dance' tradition. Andy digs up his in series one, Lance at the end of series 2
  • Good-Guy Bar: Andy, Lance and the rest of DMDC will inevitably retire to the Two Brewers.
  • Gossipy Hens: Danebury is apparently full of these. When Lance receives a complaint about the noise from his downstairs neighbour;
    Kate: I dropped my keys! That's what it was, I dropped my keys and I swear to god, I saw five lights come on up the road. People coming to their windows!
    *Later that day at a DMDC meeting*
    Sheila: I heard your Kate dropped her keys the other night?
    Lance: How d'you know that?
    Sheila: Who told us it was Kate that dropped her keys? Was it Miriam in the pet shop?
    Terry: Miriam heard from one of the mums at Clown Land.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Several understated examples.
    • Becky laughs in Andy's face when he says he intends to sell his metal detector as a sign of his devotion to her.
    • Andy then finds a Saxon gold coin and suggests melting it down into a wedding ring.
    • Varde unearths a male signet ring, smiles, and wanders over to her girlfriend.
  • Granola Girl: Maggie, who owns a shop selling new age paraphernalia.
  • Happily Married:
    • Terry and Sheila are rarely seen apart, and as well as DMDC activities attend a great deal of dance classes together.
    • Andy and Becky by the start of the second series.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?:
    • Terry mentions that Louise and Varde are lesbians in an effort to puff up DMDC's progressiveness, but everyone objects to how crass this is.
    • Offscreen character "Gay Martin". Becky says it's an Ironic Nickname and goes on to describe an aggressively heterosexual Latin Lover stereotype, but she's probably just winding Andy up.
  • Hero of Another Story: Series 2 hints that Sheila has quite a history separate from Terry. In the final episode, it's strongly implied that she once had a child (presumably not Terry's) whom she gave up for adoption, and that it's a secret that weights heavily upon her.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lance and Andy.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Lance and Andy have been hunting a burial site for an entire series, but Becky takes a quick look at the map and spots the likely location in seconds.
    • On a darker note, Sheila - normally presented as something of a Cloud Cuckoolander - makes an oblique reference to losing a child, painting herself as more of a Stepford Smiler in the process.
  • How We Got Here:
    • The opening scene of series 2 is a flashback to a stormy night, and shows a medieval monk burying his treasure, an aestel, deep into the ground. When the camera pans up from the ground again, the show returns to its usual modern day setting. Lance finally discovers the aestel at the end of the series.
    • A similar technique is used at the end of the first episode of series three, where Andy's discovery of a whistle flashes back in time to its user witnessing a burial in the field, which then segues into a Time Passes Montage bringing us back to the present day.
  • Hypno Fool: Discussed Trope. Toni persuades Lance to try hypnotherapy to get over his seasickness, but Lance can't relax because he is so worried about being a Hypno Fool, and doesn't really get anything out of it.
  • I Have This Friend...: Lance when asking Andy for advice on asking out Toni.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: Inverted. When Russell and Hugh return the mayor's chains of office, Russell's advice to a nervous Hugh is to imagine him fully clothed. The mayor then comes out of his house in his underpants.
  • Info Dump: Varde's one and only speaking contribution in the whole series is an infodump about the myth of Nazi gold, disguised as an irrelevant aside.
  • Insistent Terminology: The devices are metal detectors, the people who use them are detectorists... and they will correct you if you get that wrong. Andy exercises a supreme effort of will not to do this when he's asked in a job interview what he thinks of "metal detectors", until it occurs to him to rephrase the question; "well I'd say that metal detectors... people who use metal detectors..."
  • Kavorka Man: The incredibly schlubby Mayor appears to be one, having lost his chains of office in a popular dogging spot.
  • Lady Swearsalot: Becky swears noticeably more than any of the rest of the characters.
  • Lethal Chef: Sheila offers lemonade whenever anyone's over at her house. Andy and Lance quickly learn not to drink the lemonade again, although that doesn't stop them from encouraging the other DMDC members to give it a try.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    Lance: Listen, I've never admitted this to anyone, but I really won the lottery the day Maggie left me.
    Sophie: Right. You mean what, you didn't realise at the time but actually it was the best thing that could have happened?
    Lance: Pardon?
    Sophie: You mean that it was a good thing?
    Lance: What was?
    Sophie: Maggie leaving you.
    Lance: Eh?
    Sophie: What did you mean then, "I won the lottery"?
    Lance: I won the lottery the day Maggie left me.
    Sophie: Sorry, what do you mean?
    Lance: What part of "I won the lottery" do you not understand?
  • Living Prop: Varde, who's always at DMDC meetings but doesn't seem to contribute anything. The one time she does get to say something, Terry shuts her up again.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: So far, the regular reccuring characters include Andy, Lance, Sophie, Sheila, Terry, Russell, Hugh, Varde, Louise, Paul, Phil, Becky, and Kate.
  • Love Triangle: A couple in Series 1, both Type 4:
    • Lance is still desperately pursuing his ex-wife Maggie, despite her remarriage to Tony. He finally seems to get over her in the last episode.
    • Sophie obviously has a crush on Andy, who seems (mostly) oblivious to her feelings and is (mainly) devoted to his long-term girlfriend Becky. Becky and Andy reconcile and get married once they discover that they're about to become parents, and Sophie seems to be content to be friends with both of them by Series 2.
  • MacGuffin: The Saxon burial hoard in Series One, the WWII plane wreck in Series Two.
  • Maintain the Lie: Lance and Andy are frequently guilty of this, and this being a sitcom, of course they are eventually caught out.
  • Motor Mouth: A cameo from Kevin Eldon as The Unintelligible auctioneer.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • Andy with Sophie in the first series.
    • Lance with Mags in the third series.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Larry Bishop.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Whilst waiting for Becky outside the school where she works Andy is confronted by policeman.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Andy thinks Lance is dating Kate, until Lance reveals that Kate is his daughter.
  • The Mole: Sophie, until her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Nazi Gold: When Terry discovers that the WWII plane crash isn't a war grave after all, Varde finally breaks her silence to suggest that Peter's real motive in wanting to dig it up is searching for Nazi gold. She's right!
  • Never Found the Body: Terry points out that Larry Bishop's wife vanished without trace and no body was ever found - naturally arousing suspicions when he warns the detectorists to never try detecting in the lower paddock. She's living in Braintree.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Everyone refers to Phil and Paul as Simon and Garfunkel.
    • Lance rarely calls Terry Terry, nor indeed the same nickname twice, opting for a succession of corruptions or puns based on Terry such as Terrilium or Teriyaki.
  • No Swastikas: Lance finds a gold coin in Peter's wallet, and examines the embossing before quickly looking away. We never see it.
    Lance: It's an eagle.
    Andy: ...Is the eagle holding anything?
    Lance: [double-checks, puts it away again] A wreath.
    Andy: And is there a symbol inside the wreath?
    Lance: Yep.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Downplayed. Becky's mum is this in a Protagonist Centred Morality way, but while obnoxious, she isn't generally that wide of the mark. She rudely disregards Andy's meticulous but slightly over-the-top feeding schedule when she babysits, and she clearly doesn't think he's good enough for Becky — but only for the same reasons Becky criticises him herself, such as being shiftless and unambitious. Eventually she gives Andy a touching speech reassuring him that her daughter's threats to run away are unfounded because she loves him, and telling him he's a good father, which is something Becky never had herself.
  • Older Than They Look: Hugh, turns out he's 32. Russell hangs a lampshade on it by asking if he's got a condition that makes him look young.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with with Tony and Toni, although the two never meet.
  • Parents in Distress: When Lance is once again becoming an Extreme Doormat to his ex-wife, she is thrown out in no uncertain terms by his daughter Kate.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Andy seems to run across more than his fair share of these.
    • When doing some roadside work, he rescues a hedgehog. When his boss sees it curled into a ball, he asks why it's not flat.
    • His boss at the archaeological dig site not only disregards Andy's discovery of a beautiful Roman mosaic but then has it removed under cover of night so as not to interfere with the construction of the office block.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Lance's 1978 Triumph TR7.
  • Psmith Psyndrome: Lance approaches a truck and asks if the mechanic underneath it is the "Tony" he's been told to look for. Toni emerges and points out that it's "with an 'i'. You were saying it with a 'y'."
  • Put on a Bus: Maggie and Tony after series 1. They return in series 3.
    • Larry Bishop in series 2, apart from a cameo in the teaser for episode 5.
    • Sophie after series 2.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Danebury Metal Detecting Club.
  • Real-Life Relative: Becky's mum is played by Rachael Stirling's mum, Diana Rigg.
  • Reveal Shot: When Lance is waiting in the park for Kate, he is sat on a bench and holding onto some flowers and chocolates. As the camera pulls back, he realises he's sitting next to a dog litter bin, and so shuffles along the bench, but ends up sitting next to a regular rubbish bin.
  • Running Gag: Andy has one. Metal-detecting has him holding an item he scans the ground with and a pair of headphones to listen for beeps if something is underground. Every job he's shown at in the series has him with nearly the same look replacing an MP3 player for the metal-detecting gear, from edging grass to marking out property lines.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Andy and Becky, especially in Series 2. Becky is keen to have an adventure and finally follow through on the plans to spend some time in Africa that they've been discussing for years, while Andy is so cautious about his family's safety that he becomes crippled by anxiety about a decision over washing the salad before dinner.
  • Scenery Porn: Set in Essex but filmed in Suffolk, with lots of lingering Establishing Shots of arcadian fields and trees, and close-ups of plants and wildlife.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Lance and Andy have many, many of these whilst out detecting.
    Lance: Did you see QI this week?
    Andy: Yeah.
    Lance: Never thought I'd say this, but I prefer Toksvig to Fry.
    Andy: Controversial.
    Lance: Well, don't you think she's better?
    Andy: I'm not prepared to stick my neck out that far, mate. She's certainly doing a good job.
    Lance: Big shoes to fill. Literally.
    Andy: Why literally?
    Lance: Stephen Fry has got big feet.
    Andy: But she doesn't literally have to wear his shoes.
  • Serious Business: Absolutely everything to do with metal detecting.
  • Shown Their Work: The characters not only indulge in a lot of geek-speak about metal detecting, but also express opinions about the reliability of historical sources and have a great deal of knowledge about obscure legal definitions relating to detecting. Crook himself is involved with the hobby.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Danebury Metal Detecting Club vs The Dirt Sharks (formerly The Antiquisearchers).
  • The Silent Bob: Paul. Lance and Andy make fun of this the first time he does speak, asking Phil if he's allowed to.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The characters' predicaments are realistic and there are plenty of Jerk Ass characters, but the overall tone of the show is highly idealistic.
  • The Stinger: One episode has the DMDC on a stakeout at night, but Russell and Hugh fall asleep. After the credits play, they are still asleep at sunrise.
  • Story Arc: Although categorised as a sitcom, you won't find many self-contained single-episode storylines here. Pretty much every plotline is ongoing.
  • Take Our Word for It:
    • When Russel and Hugh are trying to find the mayor's chain of office at a remote car park, we only see their reaction as people turn up after dark and start having sex. Naturally, the result is also Head-Tiltingly Kinky.
    • See also the No Swastikas example above.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Averted, but played with. There's no romance between Andy and Sophie, despite what other characters may think.
    • Also played with when Andy is questioned by a police officer whilst waiting outside his girlfriend's school.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: When Lance and Andy play at an open mic night, the act on before them is "Johnny Piper", alias real-life folk singer Johnny Flynn, performing the show's theme song.
  • Thieving Magpie: One makes an appearance in the third series and steals a coin Lance has just dug up. Over the course of centuries, a local magpie family has picked up every coin in the field and hidden it in their nest.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: 'Simon and Garfunkel' alias Paul and Phil.
  • Tomato Surprise:
    • The revelation in episode 5 that Lance literally won the lottery some time before the series began.
    • And then in series two, Lance again: the fact that he has a daughter.
  • Tomboyish Name: Toni in the Christmas special, and she can tell when you're saying it the other way.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Played for Laughs with the In a World...-type action movie style BBC trailer for series two.
  • Troll:
    • Becky enjoys winding up Andy.
    • Toni is an even more deadpan version, letting Lance stew for days over thinking he'd joked about he father's death before she admits she was just kidding.
    • Lance and Andy continually encourage people to try some of Sheila's ludicrously sour lemonade.
  • The Voiceless: Varde. She has literally no lines in Series 1, and Russell seems to believe that she might not speak English. In Series 2 she pipes up with an eloquent speech about her research into the plane, much to the shock of Russell and Hugh - only to be silenced almost immediately by Terry.
    • Lampshaded in the following episode, when Louise and Varde are sitting in their car in an apparently perfectly normal silence for them, until Louise asks why Varde's giving her "the silent treatment".
    • Given an even larger lampshade in series 3 where we cut to a DMDC meeting where Varde has apparently just finished presenting a talk, and is too hoarse to speak.
  • Whammy Bid: Becky bids way more money than she and Andy can afford attempting to buy a house, terrifying Andy.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Her Back?: Lance spends the first series pining over and being exploited by his ex-wife. She's finally sent packing by Kate.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Longtime friends Lance and Andy, with "stranger" Sophie.
  • Wrench Wench: Toni, an archetypal Tomboy.
  • You're Drinking Breast Milk: Implied in the first episode of series 2. Lance offers to feed Stanley, but before Andy can tell him how to check if the milk is warm enough, Lance drinks some of the milk to check. The scene then cuts to Becky, who laughs and points out that she can no longer look Lance in the eye.


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