Living in the Past was indeed an intereesting example of the 'reality' genre
- I had some interesting discussions with Peter Reynolds and Jack Langley of
the Butser Project about LitP when I worked at Butser. It was, basically,
an exploration of the psychology of survival, the archaeological setting
being convenient in terms of being able to provide tools and equipment, and
there being technical assistance available (in the form of PJR and JL). Not
all the advice was followed and there was a fair amount of behind the scenes
manipulation by the production team. There have been more recent, but
shorter term 'archaeology' based programmes - basically they seem to involve
taking a bunch of fairly clueless (in terms of living in primitive
conditions) individuals and letting them get on with it, the degree of
ineptitude leading to mass food poisoning in the 'Iron Age' to my
Tales from the Green Valley was a far superior production in terms of
demonstrating how people may have lived in the past as it was actually
staffed by a group of people who knew what they were doing!
I met a lot of the survivors of Living in the Past when I worked on the Peat
Moors Visitor Centre in Somerset - they had some interestin tales but didn't
seem to have continued their interest in 'Living History' particularly. One
of the women told my other half that 'you can't spin with a drop spindle
that size' (it was a replica of a Glastonbury Lake Village whorl), which was
blatantly not the case as the other half had a perfectly good reel of yarn
on the spindle, having been inspired to learn how to do it by LitP and had
been practicing for the ensuing 20 years or so.
From: David Bowler [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 27 July 2006 09:17
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BRITARCH] TV opportunity on Channel 4
An alarming thought:-
The very first Reality TV show, much earlier than Big Brother and the rest,
may have been 'Living in the Past', first screened I think in the late
1970s, about people living in a recreated Iron Age village, loosely modelled
on Butser. There were animal sacrifices, Beltane ceremonies, and some of
the (female) participants going about au naturel, for reasons I cannot now
recall (other than the obvious ones). I believe one of the couples involved
split up in the course of the series.
We had better not say too much, as some of the participants may now be on
this list, but I suppose we ought to be proud that our profession was so far
on the leading edge of what has proved to be a major cultural trend. I
think we should all seek a written undertaking from David Connolly not to
take his clothes off on camera for any pretext whatever.
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