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There is far too much rubbish on television these days. Thank goodness therefore for wonderful, engaging, intelligent programmes like Time Team (and its spin-off Extreme Archaeology by the same producer Tim Taylor).
Presented by Tony Robinson (of Blackadder fame) the premise of the programme is to bring together a number of Archaeologists, experts in various fields, to try and investigate a particular problem in three days.
The team works on various of locations, mainly in the UK but occasionally abroad. They investigate a wide variety of historical periods from stone age man living in Cheddar Gorge, through Roman villas up to an American World War II bomber which crashed in South East England.
The expertise and resources, both human and technological, that Time Team can bring to a dig means that they can often discover more about a site in the three days than the local archaeologists had been able to find out in previous years. In fact local archaeologists often invite the team to investigate problems that they haven't been able to deal with themselves. At the other end of the scale the team sometimes investigates anomalies that viewers have found in their own back gardens.
Another important part of the programme is a task or reconstruction relating to the dig. For example when working on Josiah Wedgewood's first kiln, the team showed the process that he went through to produce his pottery. In another episode when excavating a Roman villa, they produced a reproduction of a mosaic.
Overall this is an extremely intelligent programme with a superb presenter and interesting experts whose obvious enthusiasm really comes across when they are describing what is going on.
Finally it is worth mentioning the excellent 'Time Team Live' digs, where Time Team have conducted an excavation over the course of a few of days with a number of live programmes over that period where they give an update of what is happening and what they have found.
What is so wonderful about this programme is the thrill of discovery. Nobody knows exactly what is going to happen and the direction of the programme can change halfway through based on the evidence that has turned up. Its a long way from the latest boring, predictable soap opera!
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