Mackenzie Crook pulls triple duty on the comedy series “Detectorists.” Besides writing and directing each of the 19 episodes, he stars as Andy, a would-be archaeologist, who spends his free time with his pal Lance (Toby Jones) in search of buried treasure. As he explained in our recent interview (watch above), he didn’t intend to wear so many hats. Rather it was his pal Ricky Gervais, with whom he’d co-starred in “The Office,” who told him that he just had to direct his scripts. “He was right. The idea of handing this over to someone else to direct after I had poured so much into it became unthinkable.”
Despite the overwhelming critical acclaim for the show (it merits a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes), Crook was content to make just two seasons of the show, as Gervais had done with “The Office.” But he thought there was more story to tell and is grateful for the support of Acorn TV, the US-based streaming service that co-produced the final six episodes. It was that participation that makes “Detectorists” eligible for Emmy consideration. Crook readily admits he is having trouble wrapping his mind around that idea. “The fact that it is even being talked about in this way is more than I ever imagined for this small British show.”
But he should be used to collecting hardware for the show. After all, in 2015 “Detectorists” won Best Scripted Comedy at the BAFTAs against some pretty tough competition: British comedy legends Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse in ” Story Of The Twos,” James Corden‘s farce “The Wrong Mans” and Chris Dowd‘s heartwarming “Moone Boy.” And at the recent BAFTAs, Jones won Best Comedy Actor.
Crook credits Jones with playing a key role in even getting the series made. “His coming on board was a great help in getting it commissioned.” And the actor played a part in redefining the role. “He shaped the way the writing went. I’d imagined his character as more mercenary but with Toby they couldn’t be chalk and cheese.”
And he is appreciative that the powers that be let him make the show he envisioned, a gentle half hour that explores the friendship of two men who are misfits as well as the women in their life played by Rachael Stirling and Rebecca Callard respectively. Stirling’s mother, Diana Rigg, plays her on-screen mother in season three and Crook readily admits to being a little overwhelmed at the prospect of directing this small screen icon. However, she soon calmed his nerves and he is delighted that she is being praised for her performance. “I was keen not to make her the stereotypical battle-axe mother-in-law. I wanted her and Andy to get along.”
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