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Friday 10 February 2012

Sexed Up?

I am an avid viewer of the UK Channel 4 TV program "Time Team".

For those not in the know, it is a program all about archaeology and it has been broadcasting now for many years. Every program visits a different archaelogical site and spends 3 days excavating there. Sometimes they find very little and other times they strike the jackpot and find something historically exciting and significant.

The program has been in the news this week after two of its presenters have quit the program. One a long serving archaeologist and the other, a new presenter brought in for the latest series, the 19th, which started airing on Channel 4 a few weeks ago.

Whilst i have no intention of trying to read between the lines of statements, from various parties, that i have read and second guessing what actually caused those resignations. Some things, to fans of the program at least, are pretty evident.

Before the current series starting broadcasting, i saw pieces saying that the old format had been changed slightly. There was a new, second presenter for example, Mary-Ann Ochota, one of those who has quit. It was also revealed that some other regular contributors would not be as visible this time around.

This has been born out when watching the start of the new series. Some people seem to have gone altogether and others are not present for whole episodes, but turn up occasionally in others.

Of course i understand that there can be many reasons for this. People move on to pastures new, although i've not seen any suggestion of this. Others could be busy with their own careers as professional archaeologists, or experts in their own particular field and, maybe, just can't spare the time to appear in a tv program.

But, what has become evident to me as i've been reading the fall out of these resignations over the past few days, is that the whole program production of Time Team has changed for this new series.
For some strange reason the producers seem to have decided to mess with a well loved formula and to try to sex it up.

I fully understand that things might have to change. Things can get a little stale, but we're not talking about a comedy show that has to dreamt up and written here. We're talking about a factual program with a seemingly endless supply of material.
This seems to me to have been a classic case of trying to fix something that wasn't broke in the first place.

Sure, Time Team isn't for everybody, but it never will be. It is what i would call classic niche market tv. The audience will never be huge, but those that do watch will be passionate about the program and the subject matter. They will and have, become very attached to the program and don't want to see change just for the sake of it.

I feel very sorry for those presenters that have felt the need to resign. After all, it's hardly their fault that they've got caught up in all of this.
They have, in effect, become the victims of the changes, as have the viewers as well.

How many more times are we going to see perfectly good tv programs and radio shows being sexed up to, supposedly, make them more appealing to the general public?
We can probably all think of examples of our favourite shows being changed and usually changed for the worse too. I know that there are several shows that i now don't either listen to, or watch because of this trend.

I just hope that Time Team doesn't become another one.
Thankfully, the fall out from this latest debacle suggests that lessons have been learned and that the next seires will feature a return to "normal service".

Only time will tell.


  1. Actually, the series sounds kind of interesting. I'd love to see something like that on American TV. And, no, it doesn't seem to need the additional "sexing."

    1. There was an American spin off in 2009 Time Team-America. A new season in in the works for 2013 on PBS but from what I remember of the 2009 series it was very dumbed down and not as interesting as the UK series.

  2. Ken: It's a really good prog & well worth watching if you can get it. I find it both fascinating & informative. let's hope it stays that way.

    1. Yikes...I didn't hear about any of this. I noticed and didn't like the changes in this series but didn't know if it was the crews choice or the production company. If Mick is gone I don't know if the series has much longer to live-I think some of the older crew members might think about leaving too and the series won't work with a new "sexier" cast. But saying that, I have to agree it has been slowly going down hill for awhile. I don't know if it's the production or if it's the fact that they are running out of interesting digs after all these years. Maybe it's time to move away from the "3 days to find out" and try some longer more in depth digs.

    2. Paul: I follow Time Team via Facebook & there are some interesting statements & news on there about all of this. Like you, i've seen a bit of a decline, but this series has been a bit of a let down. Old faces missing, or not as visible & i really didn't see the need for a new presenter. Although i don't blame her. Apparently she has a degree in Archaeology & Anthropology, so is hardly underqualified.
      I guess the 3 day limit is done for a reason, but it does restrict the archaeology.