Map-It – Mapping Time Team

TL;DR – Today we chart every location visited during 20 Seasons of Time Team one of the most wonderful shows to ever grace British television.


Well, today we are continuing our Mapping British TV week with Time Team (after looking at Grand Designs earlier). Time Team is one of those rare shows that was at its heart is an educational show, but it also was one of the most entertaining things on TV in its time. That is such a difficult balance to get right and like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego this is one of the other rare shows that actually managed to pull that off.

For those who don’t know about Time Team, it is a show about exploring the history of the British Isles (and some other places). The show would arrive at a site where people have some questions about a hill, or lump of stone, or an odd blip on a map, and from here they have just three days to excavate as much of the site as possible. They are looking for important finds like mosaic floors of the Romans, motte-and-bailey castles of the Normans, WW2 fornications, ditches next to roads, and never any Roman temples, okay bar that one time. The team includes host Tony Robinson, lead field archaeologist Phil Harding, and experts like Mick Aston, Francis Pryor, Helen Geake, John Gater, Raksha Dave, Stewart Ainsworth, and many more.

The format might be something that goes against most archaeological digs that happen over months and years, but it makes for some great TV. In the end, what the show is mostly doing is engaging in the first prep work on sites for local archaeological groups who could not afford the geophysics themselves. Through this, they have made finds that have reshaped the way that we look at parts of British history.

My love for the show comes from many places. There is the interaction between the hosts and the teams, the allure that at any moment something major could be found that would have Tony Robinson dashing across the site to instigate, Phil’s hat, and also learning about the history of the world. I think thanks to this show I can give you a more in-depth view of the history of Great Britain than I can of my own country, but that may also be an indictment on the history standards in 1990s Australian schools. So without further delving into the past, let’s delve into the past.

Continue reading

My Top 30 TV Shows (24-21)

24) Black Books – Now I was tossing up whether to put IT Crowd or Black Books here, they’re both by the same creator Graham Linehan, they both have a main cast of a smarmy guy, confused guy and a normal-ish lady, and are both very British comedies. But after much consideration I think Black Books just slips out in front. Black Books tells the story on Bernard Black the owner of Black Books, his assistant Manny and next door neighbour Fran. Bernard runs the store but would rather get wrecked by a bunch of skinheads than do his tax. Manny is stuck in a dead end job and has somehow absorbed the little book of calm, or not, or maybe. Fran runs the gift shop next door which sells nothing but ‘wank’ and enjoys more than the odd bottle of wine. It is the dynamic of this trio which is the core of the show and it is what brings you through every episode and makes you wanting more.  So to conclude why do I like Black Books, One, it is hella funny, it perfectly encapsulates the slow descent into chaos that is a hallmark of British comedy’s. Two, the show was solid all the way to the end, and some truly wonderful moment were had. Three, it launched the career of Bill Bailey one of my favourite comedians. Four, it’s set in a book store, I love me some book stores. Five, “Bernard look, Bernard, Bernard, Bernard, look Bernard, Bernard, look, look, Bernard, look Bernard” “WHAT “ “I am a prostitute robot from the Future”. Black Books is a lot of fun and I will always have fond memories of me and my friends watching it.

23) Orphan Black – This is a TV Show that is on this list for its technical and acting accomplishments, and by that I mean the performance of lead actor Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black is a story about clones, and that is not a spoiler because you find it out in the first episode. This means that Tatiana plays at least 5 distinct roles throughout the series and more amazingly each of them feels like a real character. The main story revolves around Sarah Manning who has to juggle her past life and impersonating Beth Childs who committed suicide in front of her, Alison Hendrix who just wants to be a suburban mum and is not ready for her world to explode around her, Cosima Niehaus who has devoted her life to science only to find out she herself is a science experiment and Helena, who has been abused and tormented all her life and turned into a weapon to unleash on her sisters.  As well as this, there is so many levels to this show, to the point I wanted to make a chart to visualize all the links. Sure not everything works, Mrs. S, is a bit over the top, some of the betrayals on top of betrayals feel a bit forced. However, these are but small gripes, watching Tatiana Maslany play four different characters in the same scene is just a delight, and it good that she finally got the recognition of the Emmys. This was a TV Series that I was not planning to watch until it was recommended to me, a recommendation I am glad I was given.

22) Time Team – To this day I know more about the History of the British Isles than just about any other place on this planet. This is not from School or Uni, nor even my Civilization infatuation, well maybe a little bit from them, no just about everything I know is because of watching Time Team.  Time Team is based on a simple premise, the team have three days to discover as much as possible about a given location. Because you only have three days you have triage what you can do, so they use geo-imaging and test pits, and even then they have found, cities, manor houses, factories, places that historians never knew about. Sure most of the artefacts were shards of pottery and corroded coins, but every now and again they would find something truly amazing. The team have dug up sites from all over Great Britain and from every part of its history up until WW2. From Tony Robinson’s hosting, to Mick Aston’s hair, to Phil Harding’s hat, to whatever was happening between Raksha and Matt, to there always being a Roman Temple but there never being a Roman Temple, I love this show. Not only is it entertaining but it was educational, do you know how hard that is to get both of these without sacrificing one for the other, hell even entire TV Channels can’t pull this off, yes I’m looking at you “History” Channel.  I’m sad that it had to end, and who knows one day someone might have the idea to bring it back, in the meantime, it was an amazing ride.

21) Amazing Race – Take two people with a prior relationship of some sort (family, lovers, childhood friend etc), drag them across the world, make them compete in challenges against other teams, all with the pressing concern if they make it to the pit stop in last place Phil Keoghan eliminate them from the game. Like Survivor I absorb every episode of the Amazing Race, it is a simple premise but it just works. Part of why you turn up is to see the amazing places they will visit, and boy do they visit some truly wonderful places. Like I don’t know how they got to visit many of the places that they have been allowed to shoot in. There are many things you can look forward in a season, that one team that implodes and end up going out in an explosion of fighting (well bar that one time they actually won), that person who hates heights who ends up having to jump out of plane, two teams running to the pit stop, Phil pretending they’re in last place when they’re not. Yes it have been pretty much unchanged since they worked out how to have the Fast-forward and non-elimination rounds, but I don’t think that shows stagnation but rather years of refinement. So in the end I will be looking forward to seeing where they go next, as long as it does not involved a forced dating component.