So, news has come out that 2013 marks the final series for Time Team, although 2014 will see some special episodes. This has saddened me a bit, as Time Team was something we watched each week with relish in our household as I grew up, a good blend of entertaining and informative (albeit if memory serves with the occasional grudging comment from mum about more holes in fields and how it all gets the same after a while) Then at uni we would chat about it, even blagged a lecture form one of the team. Now it's a cup of tea and a chill out while I mentally map how I'd display the finished site to the public (as if! But it keeps my cogs whirring!).
It occupies a funny place with many I know interested in archaeology – usually they both appreciate the mass audience and interest it has brought to archaeology, while cursing the simplification, failure to show the full pre and post work required, the dramatics... Plus there are only so many times you can hear “Archaeology? I like Time Team too!”, “Do you want to be on Time Team then?” And “Shall we get you a stripy jumper for Christmas?”
There has been quite a bit of faff around it this last year, with a co-presenter hired who was an ex-model and “does not have to be overly experienced or knowledgeable as we have plenty of expertise within the existing team” . This then led to both her and Prof Mick Aston leaving the series. He had been understandably very vocal about his concerns and anger in response to decisions to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology”. It was very saddening to read his comments that " I’m not proud of Time Team, it hasn’t worked,”.
Perhaps it didn't work for him, it may not have become the show he saw the potential for, or may have reached that only to descend into something he hated. However, for many it opened their eyes and from there they were willing to discover more. The intake of students to archaeological courses went up during the peak of the series, and no doubt it has encouraged more people to volunteer who otherwise would have put their time elsewhere, and encouraged more visits to archaeological sites as the general populous gained a greater appreciation for their value and edutainment potential on a day out.
Lack of context sheets being filled out on screen, camera angles down the female student’s tops, sudden revelations on the third day (just after the final ad break) and much more can, in my eyes, be forgiven for what was overall a show that helped the wider cause of archaeology. I really hope that Mick can see all that his idea did achieve, no matter how far that falls short of his hopes.
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