Saturday 11 October 2014

The Damaging Depiction of UK Metal Detectorists on BBC4

"would have more pride buying their own cabbages 
rather than hiding them under lorries to retrieve later"

"Could be brass, no need to report it" (Lance)
Last week the character Lance in the true-to-life comedy series "detectorists" was depicted as stealing  from his employer. I did not mention it. This week I mentioned it on my blog and suddenly in the thread on a metal detecting forum near you discussing the programme we have detectorists pointing out in mock seriousness "not that I condone such behaviour". Not that a single one of those metal detectorists will even hint that they are aware of the existence of these comments on this blog (which they all pretend does not exist to avoid addressing the issues it raises about their activities).

Here then is another comment about how true to life the series is in depicting real detectorist attitudes that they can also try to ignore. It seems to me that the writer of this series has done a real hatchet job on detectorists depicting them to BBC4 viewers as a group of low-income, quiz-show-watching, ill-dressed social inadequates, prone to dishonesty (petty thieving, refusal to report the concealment of potential Treasure) and conflict. Yet the forums inhabited by real metal detectorists seem not to notice that, they consistently record the opinion of hobbyists that the situations depicted are so true to life that the writer must have been to many club meetings. John Winter (Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:27 pm) hints in big bold letters "he had a good adviser!" - though the NCMD refused to be drawn into it.

So, let us note the consistent depiction here of intolerant exclusionist attitudes which is at the root of tekkie attitudes to interaction with the rest of the heritage community. This is expressed in the programme not only towards the "beardies" (archaeologists and museum professionals) and Lance's anti-student comments in Episode 1. It is also seen in the typically puerile teen-testosterone but then homophobic comments addressed to the effete rival detectorist (with the Arado who is affiliated to the local Museum). Most of all, note the way they (Lance and Terry) talk down to the token brown-skinned detectorist in the metal detecting club. Such racist attitudes bubble just below the surface on many metal detecting forums (readers might remember the fuss made about Romany 'Travellers' near the Staffordshire Hoard PACHI Monday, 15 October 2012, 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Bigotry, Fear and Loathing in Hammerwich').

Talking of which, who noted the mention of that discovery in the context of "nighthawking" (Crook invented a new term: "stubble surfers")? Metal detectorists recently have been falling over themselves  trying to deny that a series of holes that appear at intervals on the hoard field (documented by concern group Heritage Action) are anything to do with illegal metal detecting on the hoard site. Here we have a reference to the "Staffordshire Hoard" being used as the eponymous site denoting the phenomenon as a whole. Note that this was not denied by any artefact hunter on any forum near you. They were just hoping nobody had noticed.


Anonymous said...

Yes. The overwhelming impression I got from the programmes and the comments about them on the detecting forums were that the characters were all utterly awful yet real detectorists aren't aware of the fact and thought they were fine.

"It seems to me that the writer of this series has done a real hatchet job on detectorists depicting them to BBC4 viewers as a group of low-income, quiz-show-watching, ill-dressed social inadequates".....

Absolutely. And I think that's what most viewers would think. The ONLY bits that jarred were detectorists quoting Howard Carter and Bede. Completely unrealistic.

Lest I'm attacked as an awful snob, may I suggest a "daughter test"? If the average Channel 4 viewer was asked "would you be happy for your daughter to marry any of the detectorists on the show?" I'm preppared to wager there'd be a massive "NO!". Would that make them "snobs" or "caring parents"? ;)

(The above remarks don't apply to all real world detectorists. Just all of the dozens that I've seen commenting on the programmes!)

Paul Barford said...

I am trying to imagine a family Sunday dinner with one of them seated at the table across from me as the 'son-in-law'... Conversation, I imagine, would be rather stilted.

As for Bede, you perhaps missed the detectorist's (episode 2) "Bede, a Load of shit" (in comparison to "Charlie from Casualty"), an opinion that'd earn that mental dwarf a mouthful from me.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the Almighty doesn't have a sense of humour lest your Sunday lunches end up like you fear.

"More gravy Baz"?

Paul Barford said...

"Ooops, sorry, did that go all over your trousers? Going? So soon?"

John Brassey said...

You weren't the first to mention the stealing Paul. I posted this on my blog after episode one aired.

"I was slightly disappointed at Toby's character Lance being shown as money driven (he even sells the ring pulls he finds on eBay) and a pilferer ( he pinches veg from the farm where he works). I am biased on this as I and many detector owners have never sold a thing we have found and, far more importantly, Marion and I once suffered a major five figure loss from a staff member stealing from us. A few carrots and a cabbage may look like a bit of a perk but multiply that out over a year and twenty staff and it's not a laughing matter (only one staff member was involved in our case I hasten to add)."

Paul Barford said...

The point was though, John (whoever was "first") is the "This is me and my mate Baz down to a tee!" LOLing gives way to "this is reprehensible" comments on the forums immediately after he-who-shall-not-be-named points out what it can be taken as meaning by the BBC4 viewers rather than the thousands of chav detectorists who saw it and did not react last week.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know how John would depict a "representative" artefact hunter.

How would such a person look, sound and act?

Unknown said...


What a load of easily offended wet wipes you all are.

The Detectorists is far and away THE best programme of the last decade, and beyond.

WouldI be happy for my daughter to marry one of them? By gum yes!

Paul Barford said...

WHICH one?

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