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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Time Team, Time Over?

In October 2012, Channel 4 decided that 2013 will be the final Time Team series, with a few special episodes to be shown in 2014.
The reasons for axing the show are that the Ratings have dropped, to around 700,000 viewers per episode.

Time Team began in 1994.
Initially the concept was about excavating potential archaeology in homeowners gardens, with three days to find out as much as possible.
The number of episodes was four.

Tony Robinson, who then was well known from "Blackadder", "Maid Marian and her Merry Men" as well as numerous history documentaries such as "Boudicca", all for the BBC.
He brought his passion for history to Time Team, in the early episodes even reading source information on the subjects being investigated.
There was a fast pace to the concept as well.

Becoming popular, in hindsight Channel 4 overstretched Time Team.
Both by giving them extensive fields to survey and excavate and also the number of episodes, in series six, 1999, for example going up to thirteen episodes.

The three day format could never cover the potential that lay in extensive fields and large ancient complexes, often much more was being found out in the final hours of the third day and the Team had to stop.
For viewers it was a put off, it not being easy to find out more on the further work undertaken on the sites by other archaeological groups.

Perhaps if a few large sites were chosen and numerous episodes given over to them so that as much as possible could be found out without a "three day limitation"?
This sort of happened with the special episodes.

What the later series showed is that there is a lot out there in the UK and beyond to learn and discover about the past, and that a wide range of people are interested in this.

Because Channel 4 has changed (for the worst?) since it started in 1982, it seems that Time Team is too much for it to maintain.
They moved the production team from London to Cardiff which did no good, and also brought in two new presenters, Alex Langlands (best known from BBC 2's "Edwardian Farm") and Mary Ann Ochota (a broadcaster, Anthropologist and model).
It seems that for viewers it was a change too much, and perhaps the "writting was on the wall" well before series nineteen because of the way the series had become. 

Team members such as Professor Mick Aston, Phil Harding, John Gater, Stewart Ainsworth, the late Robin Bush, Doctor Carenza Lewis, Ian Polesland, Mick Worthington, Raysan al-Kubaisi, Victor Ambrose, Brigid Gallagher, Matt Williams and Raksha Dave have added their own unique views and talents to produce results, as well as all the other experts. They have all become National Treasures in their own right because of making viewers aware of prehistoric and historic national treasures.

The BBC has dabbled in some archaeological programs but nothing to the consistency of Time Team.

The pursuit and discover of our past does not end with the end of Time Team, and of course the academic world will not end with it (though it is stated that Phil Harding and Doctor Carenza Lewis have written more field reports than most universities put together).

TV has its Niche programs, so surely it is obvious there still is a Nich audience who like history?
After all, there is now a "Yesterday" channel, about history, that even shows repeats of Time Team.

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