Recommending…The Detectorists

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It’s difficult to watch Mackenzie Crook’s comedy The Detectorists, and put your finger on what makes it quite so enjoyable. Across two series, not a huge amount really happens and I can’t actually recall a moment I laughed out loud. But for some reason, it strangely compels you to keep coming back for more.

For every comedy show these days that seems to be brash and loud, The Detectorists is the complete opposite. It portrays the unfashionable side of British life: rural village England, where weird characters inhabit the world. You know the type. The bearded 60 year old who still runs the local scout hut, the ex-hippy who owns the bric-a-brac store that somehow still stays in business, or all those hobbyists who go to the car boot sales and school fetes up and down the country. I like being reminded that these people still exist, and that they are what makes Britain unique. Crook manages to portray them with a gentle love and affection, ending up with a really enjoyable comedy that just meanders along gently.

I assume it isn’t easy to get such a slow-burner of a comedy commissioned, but this is what the Big British Castle does so well. Crook’s the writer and director but on-screen Toby Jones steals the show as the detecting sidekick, leading a cast of slightly unhinged characters.

It’s been a bit of a sleeper hit, but from what I can tell anyone who has found The Detectorists seems to have loved it in the same way.

And “Did you watch University Challenge last night…?” is simply genius.

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Recommending…The Trip

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With the news The Trip is coming back for a third series, it’s worth recommending the first two series to anyone that hasn’t seen them.

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are both brilliant as the two main characters, playing what are essentially exaggerated versions of themselves, under the premise they’ve been asked by the BBC to go on the road to film a travel documentary. Like all those years ago when first watching The Office, you can’t help wondering whether the show is scripted or what is just the two comedians let loose to improvise, riff off each other and have a bit of competitive one-upmanship in the process. What’s clear though is that Brydon and Coogan natural chemistry and skills as impressionists mean it doesn’t really matter. When the two of them are left to sit around chatting to each other in various hotels and restaurants around the country, what you end up with is a load of laugh-out-loud moments and many quotable lines (“Gentlemen to Bed! For we rise at Daybreak).

While the show is mainly comical, it’s also finishes up as quite a moving tale of two middle-aged men coming to terms with their age and position in life, which serves as a nice contrast and gives the show some depth.

The Trip 2, written after the success of the first series, basically takes the same premise and repeats the formula in Italy rather than the UK. It’s still good, but without the freshness or as many good lines as the original. Looking forward to seeing whether there are enough new ideas in the The Trip 3 to carry a third series.

 

Recommending…Storyville: A Death Row Tale: The Fear of 13

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A documentary about Nick Yarris, who spent 20 years on death row in the US prison system whilst attempting to clear his name. It’s one of those occasions when you can’t help but sit back and be transfixed by the story and the emotions of the man who is interviewed throughout. Compelling and moving at the same time, it’s well worth a watch and has been recommended by Louis Theroux no less so must be good.

You can probably find it on BBC iplayer or Netflix, otherwise a bit of creative searching on Google should yield results…

 

Recommending…Adam & Joe

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For people new to Adam & Joe, it’s tough to explain the appeal of essentially two old friends chatting away, playing songs, creating home-made music, doing silly links, and recommending things to each other. But as with the Mighty Boosh, it’s the relationship between the two of them, their back and forth conversations and their sense of humour which just makes it so good.

I can’t really give a more personally heart-felt recommendation than to suggest downloading their archive of BBC 6 Music podcasts (and previously the XFM ones, which are still available and just as good) and plugging them in for the next commute. They consistently have me in stitches. It may take a few podcasts to get used to some of the regular segments and the in-jokes, but I promise it’s worth it.

Links:

Short clip from The Adam & Joe TV show in the 90s

Link to the Adam & Joe Show radio podcast on itunes (this only has the last few years of podcasts)

This site seems to have the full archive of radio shows