Neil Morrissey and James Buckley in new drama Finders Keepers

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Wednesday: Finders Keepers (Channel 5, 9pm)

If someone said the word ‘detectorist’ to you, what would immediately spring to mind?

Probably the sublime BBC sitcom written by and starring Mackenzie Crook alongside Toby Jones and Rachael Stirling. And rightfully so – the adventures of Andy, Lance and their comrades at the Danebury Metal-Detecting Club have become the stuff of comedy legend. But we’re now about to get an altogether different look at the hobby courtesy of Channel 5’s latest crime drama.

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The broadcaster was once much-maligned for its output, but that situation has changed in recent years. The decision to stop bankrolling Aussie soap Neighbours has allowed the company to invest in top-quality talent both in front of and behind the camera, resulting in a number of acclaimed series.

Martin and AshleyMartin and Ashley
Martin and Ashley

The likes of The Drowning, For Her Sins, Lie With Me, Heat and The Inheritance have all proved to be popular mini-series, while the rural period charms of its take on James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small books continue to win fans around the world. Now the bosses at Channel 5 are hoping that Finders Keepers – which was originally entitled The Hoard – can do the same.

Doctor-turned-writer Dan Sefton, whose CV also includes episodes of EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City, as well as the Dawn French vehicle Delicious, the drama Trust Me and the sun-kissed crime series The Mallorca Files, is the brains behind the project; it’s almost as if he’s imagined what Detectorists might be like if it adopted darker storylines rather than laughs and committed his ideas to paper.

The programme also reunites Sefton with Neil Morrissey, with whom he worked on The Good Karma Hospital, which ran for four series until 2022.

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Here Morrissey plays Martin, a local history enthusiast and family man based in rural Somerset. He and his wife Anne (played by Fay Ripley) are struggling to make ends meet – not only do they have their disabled son’s residential care costs to find, their daughter Laura (Jessica Rhodes) is planning her wedding to wheeler-dealer Ashley (James Buckley), and they must find the money to help pay for it.

Martin, Anne and AshleyMartin, Anne and Ashley
Martin, Anne and Ashley

However, the cash may fall into their lap thanks to a metal-detecting expedition designed to create a bond between Martin and Ashley, during which they stumble upon buried treasure from the Saxon period. It’s worth a fortune, and although they’re legally required to declare the find, the pair soon find themselves considering selling it privately via a dodgy mate of Ashley’s. Being on the wrong side of the law isn’t something that sits easily with Martin, however, and he soon begins to feel dangerously out of his depth…

“I’m delighted to be joining this project alongside the wonderful James Buckley and Fay Ripley,” claimed Morrissey shortly before filming began. “Martin is a character that most people will relate to, he’s a normal guy with a relatively happy life. But when he’s suddenly presented with this opportunity of a lifetime, there’s no telling what he might be capable of. I can’t wait to explore just how far he’s willing to go.”

And we’ll probably never look at a detectorist in quite the same way again…

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