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BRITARCH  October 2012

BRITARCH October 2012

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Subject:

Re: Time Team

From:

Catherine Petts <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 20:54:19 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (258 lines)

None of my comments were personal.  Many people on Britarch over the years 
have expressed the view  that Time Team misleads people into thinking you 
can do a whole archaeological project from start to finish in three days and 
I continue to think that view intellectually arrogant and silly.  It is 
patronising to think that the average  television viewer is incapable of 
reading the sub-text in television programme, whether archeological or not. 
If I have respect for the average viewer, that is not being 'self-centric' 
it is reflecting the evidence of viewer research that is published widely.

My contribution was a paeon of praise for Time Team. I was not, and never 
have been a critic of the programme but what so many contributors forget is 
that in making a television programme content is the servant of 
presentation. The prime purpose of a programme like Time Team is to 
entertain and maximise viewers. If at the same time it is possible to inform 
and educate viewers about archaeology that is a bonus and Time Team's 
brilliance was that it managed to do that. As for your comment about 
archaeologists being eccentric. If Mick and Phil were characters, I assume 
you meant them in your comments, of course they were, that was  part of the 
format, to grab peoples interest by having presenters who appeared 
intellectually unthreatening and amiably eccentric. They were after all only 
two of hundreds of professional archaeologists seen on the programme over 
the years and would you describe, Carenza Lewis, Stuart Ainsworth, and Guy 
de la Bedoyere  to name but three as eccentric and wearing mismatched 
clothes?

When Time Team was being developed I very much doubt whether Tim Taylor, 
Tony Robinson, Mick Aston et al started by thinking  about the archaeology.. 
They started by thinking about a format that would attract viewers. 'Why 
don't we make it a three day challenge, where we go in, find all we can 
about some aspect of archaeology in three days and then present the results, 
all in one programme? The challenge format has been successful in other 
programmes'. Further thought probably brought the decision to use small 
unknown sites where they could seem to go from nothing to a result in three 
days at a reasonably low cost. Obviously as the programme took off they 
could take on bigger projects and as their audience became more 
knowledgeable, they could look at larger sites, look at sites that had 
already been investigated and develop the programme. But in the beginning 
was the format. So if you want to develop new ideas for putting archaeology 
on television you must start by developing the format, once you get the 
format fit the archaeology to that. then go out and market the idea to a 
production company and a television channel. If you are successful the 
programme might just get on to our screens.



--------------------------------------------------
From: "AnastasiaT" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 8:01 PM
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Time Team

> /"I am sorry but I find all this waffling on about Time Team misleading 
> people
> into thinking that archaeology can be done in three days and they don't 
> not
> know about all the preparatory work silly"/
>
> Your huge generalisations about who is watching TT,  and other 
> documentaries for that matter, are rather self-centric.
> Also, I find it very rude in this list, that people call other people's 
> views "silly" or "pathetic" without hesitation, just because they happen 
> to disagree. Where has common courtesy gone? In any case, from the 
> discussions online I got the feeling that most people agree that TT was a 
> pioneering programme with a great impact on community archaeology and the 
> public. One of the problems was that the programme failed to progress 
> through the years, or, as its creator Tim Taylor said in his formal 
> comment, it progressed in the wrong way, the way of  tv economics, losing 
> momentum. Reading his comment I felt that he was disappointed as well, 
> this is why he wants to take this experience and try again with a new 
> archaeology programme. So, let's wait and see.
>
> Anastasia
>
> -------- Original Message --------
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Date:    Thu, 25 Oct 2012 19:27:25 +0100
> From:    Catherine Petts<[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Fwd: BRITARCH Digest - 23 Oct 2012 to 24 Oct 2012 (#2012-258)
>
> I am sorry but I find all this waffling on about Time Team misleading 
> people
> into thinking that archaeology can be done in three days and they don't 
> not
> know about all the preparatory work silly
>
> Firstly it insults the intelligence of the people watching the show. They
> are not stupid and know darn well that an incredible amount of work on 
> each
> subject that goes on before hand and after.
>
> Secondly, one of the reasons they know that is that this applies to any
> programme on television. Whether you watch gardening programmes, cookery
> programmes, or house renovation programmes, all the casual, oh look we 
> have
> a project behaviour of the presenters is backed up by months of 
> preparation,
> research, and rehearsal.  I really cannot believe that any contributor to
> Britarch, let alone the tens of millions of non-Britarchers, who watches
> television programmes aren't aware of all the before, after and during the
> show, but not shown, work that takes place around any factual programme..
>
> What people need to realise is that Time Team is first and foremost a
> television programme, and as with all television programmes it manipulates
> its subject to achieve its aim of getting as many people as possible to
> watch it. If viewers fall - and Time Team's have, the programme is pulled.
>
> 20 years is a heck of a along run for any television show let alone one on
> archaeology and it has done an inestimable amount of good for the public
> knowledge and understanding of archaeology. I knew it was a winner when
> about a year after it was first broadcast there was a pocket cartoon in 
> the
> Daily Mirror, I cannot remember the joke but the person in it had lots of
> fuzzy hair and a striped sweater and that was enough for the ordinary 
> Mirror
> reader to know, without being told, that the man in the cartoon was an
> archaeologist.
>
> Catherine Petts
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "AnastasiaT"<[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 7:02 PM
> To:<[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [BRITARCH] Fwd: BRITARCH Digest - 23 Oct 2012 to 24 Oct 2012
> (#2012-258)
>
>>  Very well said.
>>
>>  My elderly relatives who watched the series kept asking me if I could do
>>  this or that because they watched it on TT and there they were oh, so
>>  clever!
>>  I've had enough. On the one hand it was great to make archaeology more
>>  public and make so many people enthusiastic over it, but on the other,
>>  like every tv production, it was also misleading people into thinking 
>> that
>>  you get great results in 3 days (without mentioning all the survey and
>>  research work that it was obvious to the professional eye that had
>>  preceded), that archaeologists just grab a common sherd and immediately
>>  can date it with accuracy - ...and even tell you who made it and who 
>> broke
>>  it, I might add - and my pet hate: making the public think that all
>>  archaeologists are eccentric, wear mismatched clothes and are a funny 
>> lot
>>  in general; that is, the exact opposite of CSIs who are portrayed always
>>  on tv as cool and handsome.
>>
>>  Having participated in 3 documentaries produced in different countries, 
>> I
>>  was very surprised by the conventions that take place during shooting 
>> and
>>  editing, which are undetectable to the viewer, and by how difficult it 
>> is
>>  to do proper science on tv. The bigger the channel, the more
>>  sensationalistic the result had to be.
>>
>>  All the best
>>
>>  Anastasia
>>
>>
>>  ------------------------------
>>
>>  Date:    Wed, 24 Oct 2012 08:53:17 +0100
>>  From:    Malcolm J Watkins<[log in to unmask]>
>>  Subject: Re: Time Team axed
>>
>>  Time Team was both good and bad. The issue that nobody seems to have
>>  addressed is precisely this 3-day format.
>>  When I was fighting hard to raise the profile of local archaeology, and 
>> to
>>  improve the way in which it was integrated into the planning process (a
>>  golden age that may now have slipped past, I note) one of my biggest
>>  problems was in trying to convince (often unsuccessfully) the
>>  powers-that-be
>>  that it was unrealistic to expect the archaeologists to go into a site
>>  over
>>  a 3-day period and work miracles. The facility with which geophysical
>>  surveyors were found, illustrators worked and all the other 'add-ons' to
>>  the
>>  holes was misleading to my bosses and developers.
>>  So, although TT undoubtedly made 'good' TV, and brought to life our
>>  discipline for many more than might otherwise have discovered it, I view
>>  its
>>  demise with mixed feelings.
>>  The need to find an alternative to show how even small, insignificant,
>>  details can help build a picture about our past is clear.
>>  I would like to see something which could develop the idea of bringing
>>  together the different elements in a more structured and (dare I 
>> suggest)
>>  honest time frame and story. People understand the time it takes to
>>  conduct
>>  research projects in the real world, so why not on TV?
>>  I envisage something which identifies an historical
>>  event/mystery/story/whatever, and tries to interpret it and get to the
>>  bottom. Recent work on such things as Bosworth, combining historic
>>  research,
>>  intelligent detecting, fieldwork often but not necessarily including
>>  excavation, landscape archaeology and study, and then the conclusions is
>>  an
>>  example of the sort of thing I have in mind. It isn't quick, and it may
>>  not
>>  always provide the answers expected, but it is real research on a large
>>  scale, and ought to show how different aspects join together to reach a
>>  probable answer.
>>  TT was almost there, but the sexing-up by imposing an artificial 
>> deadline
>>  (as if we don't have enough real ones) undermined it in my view.
>>  I am (sort of) enjoying the current series (Prehistoric Autopsy) with 
>> the
>>  mesmeric Alice Roberts, but would dearly like a little more openness 
>> about
>>  the expense in such programmes. The creation of superb life-sized mosels
>>  is
>>  something which the average museum can only dream of, simply because of
>>  the
>>  cost. And that was nother problem with TT. I don't know how true it was,
>>  but
>>  I was told early on that the budget of a single programme was enough to
>>  have
>>  covered the entire archaeology costs to the City Council for more than 
>> two
>>  years, at a time when we had a decently-sized team.
>>  Compare TT with Julian Richards' 'Meet the Ancestors' and my vote would
>>  almost invariably go to the latter.
>>  As for Neil Oliver? Please, no! Some of us see more than enough of him
>>  already.
>>
>>  Malcolm
>>
>>  -- 
>>
>>
>>  ---->--@ --->---@
>>  Anastasia Tsaliki PhD
>>  Biological - Funerary Archaeology, Anthropology&   Palaeopathology
>>  http://bioarchaeology-palaeopathology.blogspot.com/
>>
>>  WEB PROJECTS:
>>  http://www.paleopathology.org/links
>>  https://www.facebook.com/groups/208521802515969/
>>  http://environmentalarchaeology.wordpress.com
>>
>>  ************************************
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>>  please notify the sender and delete this e-mail.
>>   ************************************
>>
>>  Save a tree! Please, do not print this email unless you really have to.
>>
>>
>
> 

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