Channel 4’s popular archaeological show ‘Time Team’ has radically changed tack in an attempt to relate to its viewers’ own experiences of digging for ancient treasure in their back gardens. The final show, broadcast on Sunday, climaxed with the dramatic discovery of a broken bit of plant pot, a rusty nail and some pebbles.
‘It was very exciting…’ said producer Charlie Pryor. ‘The dig had been going on for several hours using unsatisfactory gardening implements from my Dad’s shed. We had broken the wooden handle of the garden fork, and completely bent the handle of the tablespoon from the kitchen. But finally we hit something hard and flat. At that point we knew it was time to bring in the experts.’
Dr Arnold Lebowitz of the British Museum later expressed irritation at having been called to a back garden in Redditch to look at a piece of broken plant pot from the 1970s. ‘It was a complete waste of my time.’ he snapped. ‘I mean they wanted me to carbon-date it and everything.’ But he was able to confirm that the long thin metallic object was ‘a rusty nail’ and that the medium sized stony objects were ‘stones’.
‘Obviously you always hope you are going to find a horde of Roman coins or a Bronze Age shield or something…’ said Time Team’s producer, ‘but in retrospect I suppose that was never going to happen in my Dad’s back garden. But we think the broken plant pot and bit of slate suggests that a rubbish tip once existed beyond the compost heap and that’s very exciting…’
In a short follow-up programme, the Time Team return to the dig after complaints that there is now a big dip in the lawn where ‘the hole wasn’t filled in properly’. The producers’ Dad also suggests to presenter Tony Robinson that he should ‘do some more of them Blackadders. That was much funnier than watching people dig about in the mud.’
The Hit Squad