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Landscapes of Detectorists

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Landscapes of Detectorists considers the BBC TV programme’s engagement with landscape, its ecological resonances, and its attention to place and identity.

The book offers four distinct geographical readings of Detectorists: Innes M. Keighren attends to the sensory, technological, and emotional interpretation of landscape; Isla Forsyth examines the relationship between objects, memory, and place; the significance of verticality, the aerial, and groundedness is discussed by Andrew Harris; and Joanne Norcup considers the contested interconnections of gender, expertise, and knowledge making.

The collection is bookended by reflections on the creative processes and decisions that supported the journey of Detectorists from script to screen: in a foreword written by its writer-director, Mackenzie Crook, and in an afterword written by its originating producer, Adam Tandy.

Illustrated throughout with black and white stills from the programme.

112 pages, Paperback

Published June 19, 2020

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About the author

Innes M. Keighren

3 books2 followers
I am a historical geographer with research interests in geography’s disciplinary and discursive histories, in book history, and in the history of science. I am Professor of Historical Geography in the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.

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5 stars
20 (42%)
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20 (42%)
3 stars
6 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for Paul.
2,133 reviews
August 20, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Nick Swarbrick.
312 reviews32 followers
July 7, 2020
There isn’t a chapter in this book that doesn’t have something to intrigue and delight. I do think you need to be a fan of the television series but that in itself is no bad thing! We look at the writing of the series, its cartography, its passions; essays look at gender the “unashamed groundedness “ of the series and the hobby it portrays. Characters are given voice and substance as well as being subject to critical overview. Each essay is informed, lively, readable; I am going to enjoy following up some of the reading which is referenced and will certainly come back to this collection time and again.
Profile Image for Esta.
146 reviews
January 20, 2023
as a detectorists lover I did enjoy reading these essays - tho I did actually buy this book for my mum lol. obvs the detectorists makes me want to move to the essex countryside and/or get a metal detector A Lot, but I dont think I should be allowed a metal detector bcos I can see it eating up my life and then id be having dreams about metal detecting. I saw an amazon review when I was ordering the book that said the main essays were a bit too academic-y and jargon-y and honestly id be inclined to agree, maybe it isn't the fault of the writers of the essays bcos ultimately they are academics and thusly are academic brained by nature. but, as a person who has come to resent academic articles - even though I do mostly understand them, I feel that the essays would have benefited from being written in a bit more of an accessible way lol. subsequently I feel that the intro and the afterword - written in a bit more of a normal way by Mackenzie crook and then the producer of the series were really the highlights of the book. the essays do make good and fairly interesting points but in a classically convoluted and using-lots-of-long-words-to-make-yourself-look-clever way. anyway if u like academic-ish jargon-y language and the detectorists then this is the book for u xoxo
Profile Image for Stefan Szczelkun.
Author 23 books32 followers
October 3, 2020
Having been a fan of the comedy series I got this book from Uniformbooks as soon as it came out. It didn't disappoint; with writing from two for the shows creators and essays by four academics who considered the series froth e points of view of landscape interpretation, disquieting geographies, gender roles and hobbies. It was notable as giving 'serious thought' to a series that was about working class culture that was in itself light hearted and undermining stereotypes of machismo and shallow intellect.
Another level of interest for me was reading academics be able to step outside of the formal languages of their disciplines and engage with popular culture in an empathic way. This allowed me to explore my own deeper intellectual responses to the series simply in agreeing with analytical observations or being informed of interpretations I had missed.
I'm interested in what i have always thought of the 'mind cage' of academia, that about that the 1000 year Euro literary epistemic formation that serves state interests and keeps out working class culture that is more orally informed. This book seemed a step in making bridges or breaking down the bars of the 'mind cage' and allowing discourses a bit more fresh air. Can anyone else relate to this idea?

This review is not on my blogger
although other stuff is pursuing this idea in one way or another
Profile Image for Stella.
299 reviews
July 8, 2020
If, like me, you found yourself enjoying the BAFTA Award winning series, Detectorists but couldn't put into words the reason you loved it, then this book does exactly that.
Written and edited in an accessible, popular academic style by a team of passionate cultural geographers from leading UK universities, this books explores various landscape themes touched on throughout the series with both passion, attention to detail and humour.
A complimentary and thought-provoking companion to the series, evoking as much warmth and relevance as Johnny Flynn's theme tune or The Unthanks 'Magpie' music.
Photograph stills from the series are peppered throughout . With a Foreword by Mackenzie Crook, and an Afterword by series producer Adam Tandy, this book is a 'must' for its fans - a keepsake

One for the 'Finds' table. Brilliant!
Profile Image for John Fulton.
Author 2 books10 followers
August 19, 2020
A superb collection of essays about the BBC comedy series Detectorists. Innes M. Keighren covers the different ways of interpreting landscapes, from instinctive hunches to rigorous research. Isla Forsyth writes about the litter of everyday life that detectorists dig up, and how it both illuminates the past and provides a “meditation on the fleeting nature of the present”. Andrew Harris discusses the verticality of the landscapes in a show where our heroes have their gaze firmly fixed on the ground. Joanne Norcup deals with attitudes to gender in the programme, where masculinity is non-traditional and non-toxic while still leaving room for blokey quirks and foibles.

The book is topped and tailed with an introduction by writer, director, and star Mackenzie Crook and an afterword by the series producer Adam Tandy, both of which are informative and entertaining.
5 reviews
July 17, 2020
A selection of insightful essays relating to the programme. The essay on masculinity was the surprise highlight.
104 reviews
May 2, 2023
4 stars because this book delivers what it says on the tin. It’s a collection of academic essays about the tv show the detectorists. They are written from an academic pint of view.

The best part of the books is actually the final chapter by the producer who describes some of the behind the scene details of the program.

Personally I found most of the book pretty dull and fairly obvious. But it might appeal to someone who studies such things. I wouldn’t recommend it to fans of the tv show though.
Profile Image for Michael Tkach (Horror Gardener).
183 reviews8 followers
April 14, 2022
A great companion book to the amazing TV series, with focus on the characters relationships to the land. Not too scholarly a read so a plebe like me could enjoy the insights. DMDC!
80 reviews
December 18, 2021
The Detectorists TV show remains a bit of a secret delight for its cultish followers (and I'm one). Those fans should be careful, however. This book (a collection of essays about various aspects of the TV show) are overwhelmingly academic in nature. To be fair, the book admits this, and doesn't try to pretend to be anything it's not. But this means very little of the joy of the show itself seeps through: every essay reads like a dissertation.

But if you struggle through, it's redeemed by the last couple of essays. Joanna Norcup brilliantly dissects the gender roles in the series with real insight, then producer Adam Tandy gives us some tantalising observations from an insider's perspective.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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