Landscapes of Detectorists – Geography Workshop at the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference

Geographers strike gold in their study of hit BBC comedy, Detectorists.

Cardiff University will host the four-day Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) between 28 and 31 August. More than 1,600 delegates from around the world will attend 360 sessions, including plenaries, workshops, and field excursions. Delegates will be introduced to the human and physical geography of Wales and will also focus on the conference theme of ‘Landscape’, which will be explored using a range of historical and contemporary case studies.
Of particular note for comedy fans is one session dedicated to the BAFTA award-winning comedy-drama Detectorists, which originally aired on BBC Four between 2014 and 2017, and can currently be watched on Netflix. The “Landscapes of Detectorists” session will examine how landscape is represented in the hit comedy drama series; with papers exploring how the show’s characters attempt to “read” landscape for clues about the archaeological treasures it conceals, and how landscape features as the space in which the programme’s protagonists pursue their hobby of metal detecting.
Other papers in the session examine the way in which landscape is viewed vertically, the way the practice of metal detecting as depicted in the series reflects ideas of rediscovering past lives through the recovery of fragments, and how depictions of women and hobbies serve to enrich the complexity and diversity of knowing the rural English landscape.
Special guest and discussant for this session will be Adam Tandy, award-winning comedy drama producer, who produced series 1 and 2 of Detectorists and other award winning BBC comedies including Inside No. 9 , The League of Gentlemen, and The Thick of It. Tandy will discuss the production of the hit BBC Four comedy-drama Detectorists, written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, and how locations, site, identity, interweave with cast, plot, performance and script in making the programme .
Dr Joanne Norcup (University of Glasgow) and Dr Innes M. Keighren (Royal Holloway, University of London) have convened this session and are devoted fans of the series, have made a special pilgrimage to Framlingham in Suffolk to investigate the landscapes used in the filming. Dr Norcup is also a member of the National Council of Metal Detecting (NDMC) and a keen detectorist herself.
Dr Norcup said:
“We are delighted to have Adam Tandy as discussant for our session. Comedy as a cultural art form hold the power to emotionally and intellectually transform inner worlds and outer perspectives, to hold a mirror up to contemporary issues, to subvert, satirize and challenge, yet too often popular comedy dramas get overlooked by academics. Our session looks to correct that by thinking about how landscape functions in Detectorists as a site of humanity, humility, humour, wonder, frustration, and hope”.
For those unable to attend the conference, a sound recording of the session will be produced by Geography Workshop and made available through the Royal Geographical Society’s Historical Geography Research Group’s website later in the year.

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