I have to agree with Anastasia.
I initially put Catherine's comments down to robust academic argument,
Whatever Catherine's experience, mine was (at a reasonable level in the
worlds of museum-, planning- and field- archaeology) that many very senior
members of local authority staff, politicians and developers or their teams
of architects, etc., were convinced by the three-day concept as a means of
'evaluating' or even 'mitigating' the archaeological impact of proposals. It
probably tailed off after a few years, but by then my role had changed.
Nobody wants to deny, or can deny, that TT was seminal and opened up
archaeology to a wide audience that in many cases continued an interest
beyond the lounge.
I suspect that one reason why I was fascinated by archaeology may have been
a predecessor hit TV programme with such characters as Glyn Daniel,
Jacquetta Hawkes, Stuart Piggott and Mortimer Wheeler (who make the
eccentricities of the current crop of TV personalities pale into
But TV has a different role from that of the professional or even dedicated
archaeologist. In many ways the archaeology could have been delivering goods
by lorries, or looking at people's bodily disorders, or any of a thousand
other quirky subjects. It may have been important to the originators of the
programmes, but to those chasing ratings, the subject is largely irrelevant.
If they can't sell advertising on the back of it, or maintain their share of
audience figures, it becomes dead weight.
We need programmes like TT, no matter how much some of us may have been
unhappy, because they enable small-scale local questions to be addressed, if
not always answered and because they give the uncommitted an insight into
our very strange world.
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 9:01 PM Subject: Re: Time Team
/"I am sorry but I find all this waffling on about Time Team misleading
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.
-------- 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
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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> that it was unrealistic to expect the archaeologists to go into a site
> a 3-day period and work miracles. The facility with which geophysical
> surveyors were found, illustrators worked and all the other 'add-ons' to
> 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
> 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
> 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
> intelligent detecting, fieldwork often but not necessarily including
> excavation, landscape archaeology and study, and then the conclusions is
> example of the sort of thing I have in mind. It isn't quick, and it may
> 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
> the expense in such programmes. The creation of superb life-sized mosels
> something which the average museum can only dream of, simply because of
> cost. And that was nother problem with TT. I don't know how true it was,
> I was told early on that the budget of a single programme was enough to
> covered the entire archaeology costs to the City Council for more than
> 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
> ---->--@ --->---@
> Anastasia Tsaliki PhD
> Biological - Funerary Archaeology, Anthropology& Palaeopathology
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