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Best known as Gareth from The Office or one-eyed Ragetti from Pirates of the Caribbean (see below), at 43 Mackenzie Crook has already expanded his range from comedy to legitimate theatre and drama. Now, with BBC4’s Detectorists,  a wonderfully wry comedy about middle age and metal detectors, he’s a writer and director too. But what else has he learned?

 

“Qualifications keep you out of catering”

“When I started in stand-up, I did a lot of temping jobs. I was qualified to do nothing so I ended up in catering. I worked in a hospital kitchen alongside some hulking hunchback bloke shoving chicken carcasses into a garbage disposal machine. Every now and then he’d spot a juicy morsel and eat it. It was a vision of hell.”

 

“Acting isn’t hard work”

“I’m working on a BBC drama now and there are times where you’re sitting in a trailer waiting for the next shot. On Detectorists, I was in control – writing, directing and acting – and that’s actually hard work. It properly feels like you’re earning your money when you don’t have time for naps.”

 

“There are many different types of fame”

“Anytime I leave the house, someone will reference either The Office or Pirates of the Caribbean, but I’m more recognisable than I am famous. I noticed that when I was in the play One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with Christian Slater. I’d walk down the street with him and people would ask him to take a picture with me. They don’t expect to see someone movie-star famous but I’m believable.”

 

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“Don’t believe everything you read”

“On my website, I wrote a biography that was just refuting all the things made up about me on Wikipedia. It was like somebody had been in there and sabotaged my page but put in things that could be true: my mother’s maiden name, that I’m a big basketball fan. I didn’t mind until I went on The Andrew Marr Show and the researcher started asking me about my Green Party activism. I’ve never been a member.”

 

“A man needs an imaginary hobby”

I have a metal detector and I own some woodland but I wouldn’t actually call myself a detectorist. It’s the same with fishing, another of what my wife calls my imaginary hobbies. I’ve got all the equipment, all the know-how but I don’t actually go.

 

James Medd

 

Detectorists is out now to buy on RLJ Entertainment DVD. 

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