So how do you like the new addition to our Afternoon Tea line-up of programs; Detectorists? It’s another of those gentle comedies featuring a host of quirky characters, one of which is Andy, played by the show’s creator, writer and director, Mackenzie Crook.
Despite his boyish looks, Crook will turn 44 at the end of this month and is the father of two children aged 12 and 7. Crook never intended to go into show business, instead he wanted to be a graphic artist. He enjoyed acting, though, and as a teen joined a local youth theatre. So when, after three unsuccessful attempts he didn’t make it into design school, he was persuaded by the head of his theatre group to instead become a stand-up comedian.
Crook toured the UK comedy club circuit for eight years until he came to the attention of the producers of The Eleven O’Clock Show, a television series which also starred Ricky Gervais. Although Crook wasn’t with the show for too long, it was long enough for Gervais to see how talented he was and to cast him in The Office as one of the series’ most popular characters; Gareth. It was a character with which the self-confessed nerdy Crook had a lot in common! He was with the series until its conclusion, which unfortunately for Crook came two days before he got married and he had to appear in his wedding photographs still sporting "Gareth’s" ugly pudding bowl haircut.
After The Office, Crook’s film career also took off. He had a minor role in the film Finding Neverland, which starred Johnny Depp with whom he became good friends. Depp recommended Crook for the comedic role of Ragetti in his next film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Crook’s character appeared in sequels of the film and his subsequent role of Orell in Series 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones has given him international recognition.
Along with television and film, Crook also forged a career for himself on London’s West End and on Broadway. He appeared as Billy Bobbitt in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, alongside Christian Slater and he starred opposite Kristin Scott Thomas when he played Konstantin in The Seagull. In 2011 he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance of Ginger in Jerusalem, the Jez Butterworth play for which Mark Rylance won the second of his two Tony Awards.
Owing to his distinct looks and choice of projects, Crook is now instantly recognizable, which is something the 5’ 9” actor isn’t too fond of, given that he’s painfully shy. One of the hardest things for the softly spoken Crook when making his directorial debut with Detectorists was learning to speak up when he didn’t think something was right. As he told a reporter from The Telegraph, “I don’t complain in restaurants even if the food is awful. I had to learn to say, ‘No, actually, that’s not how I envisaged it.’ That was awkward for me at first, but I learnt that actors want to be directed.”
Crook has also had to learn how to handle criticism and hostility from real-life detectorists, who objected to the series. They felt it made a mockery of their hobby, which was not Crook’s intention. As he told The Telegraph, “it’s a very affectionate look at men and their pastimes.” Crook himself is the proud owner of a metal detector, having got it when he purchased a five acre woodland estate in Essex to turn into a nature reserve. Essex is where some of the scenes in Detectorists are filmed, but the majority of the filming takes place in the small market town of Farmlingham, in the neighboring county of Suffolk.
Detectorists airs on Afternoon Tea Tuesdays at 1pm, and you can let me know how you’re liking it by writing to me at...
To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
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