The Detectorists

The Detectorists is a BBC TV written and directed by Mackenzie Crooke about a couple of easy going, slightly goofy metal detectors (“Detectorists!”) Sorry, about Metal Detectorists.

It’s a lovely, breezy, gentle comedy and it’s so incredibly well shot that every frame is practically worth stealing for comics.

I went through a couple of episodes on twitter and highlighted some of my favourite shots in the show. So here, for your edification and delight, is a run down of those panels.

Many of the shots of the Detectorists, especially the outdoors are taken from this low angle, and as pointed out on twitter by fellow 2000AD art droid Henry Flint, it’s an angle that evokes nostalgia (since we were all bairns when we saw things from this angle). We see less and less sky as we get bigger.

This is a great shot, the foreground figures are tied together by that tree and it completely mimics their shape – then time and effort to get a shot like that from what’s around. I think one of my favourite things about the show is the way it uses landscape and natural surroundings to get these sort of incredible story telling shots.

From Wally Wood’s classaic “22 Panels that always work” L-Shaped panel. There’s a few of these, again using the natural shape of the trees to form an L shape and placing characters in shot, LANCE (to the right) out on a limb, as it were.

Framing your character by shooting from inside the cupboard. Background light keeps Andy in silhouette too.

Here’s a simair trick, but using deep foreground to help frame the character and placing them in front of the only strong light source – the window – literally framing the head.

The focal point in this conversation between Lance and grown up daughter is poster – it’s right in our faces here for good reason. They’re going to address it in a second, and it’s best to let the audience see it.

Placement of people, focusing on “Garfunkel” draws your eye to him, as do the lines in the table, though in case they’re too on the nose, they’re broken up by a cluster of empties-without background we instantly know we’re in a pub.

If this were a comic panel, you’d read left to right, the van has entered the scene and our heroes haven’t quite noticed it. And it’s the same on screen.

I love tall thin panels, I think they’re fairly unique to the medium and they’re great for showing isolation and loneliness. BUT LOOK AT THIS! I think it’s as close as you can get to that. The solitary (close) figure of Andy, in the BG the foreman walking away from him, his body language is doing a lot to sell it too, but that sense of isolation is all there. Great shot.

I love this as a final little good night shot. Real sense of the wide open space, like a full bleed comic panel.

Anyway, there’s plenty of episodes to watch – series 1 and 2 are on netflix right now and series 3 (the final series) is on the iplayer. Go and watch it, and thank me later.


Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.

One thought on “The Detectorists”

  1. Mackenzie Crook is also a fairly accomplished illustrator (I remember seeing his stuff in the programme for Jerusalem), so I’d be surprised if he hasn’t dabbled in comics at some stage


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