This week: Time Team

Time Team excavations in 2003. IMAGE: Victuallers/Portable Antiquities Scheme/Wikimedia Commons.

Last year, we could barely contain our excitement at news that Time Team, the much-loved archaeology series that became a long-running Sunday-afternoon TV favourite, was planning to pick up its trowel again after a near-decade-long hiatus.

As many readers will recall, the original Channel 4 programme first aired in 1994, and ran for 20 series and more than 230 episodes before it was finally decided to call it a day in 2014.

That was not the end of the story, however, because a strange thing happened during the Covid-19 lockdown – when against all expectation (and to the astonishment of national newspapers), it was revealed that the series was still attracting around two million views a month, in 41 countries around the world, as archaeology fans chose to spend their time in enforced isolation watching favourite episodes on the Time Team Classics YouTube channel.

With such obvious pent-up demand, the scene was set for a comeback – and before long plans were put in place to film two brand new, three-part episodes, for online consumption only, with backing provided by supporters worldwide via the crowd-funding platform Patreon.

This week on The Past, we are delighted to take you behind the scenes on those new episodes, as incoming presenters Gus Casely-Hayford and Natalie Haynes join returning Team regulars including John Gater, Carenza Lewis, Helen Geake and Stewart Ainsworth to explore an Iron Age souterrain (or fogou) in Cornwall, and the site of a large Romano-British villa on the estate of Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire.

As Felix Rowe reveals in the new issue of Current Archaeology magazine, and John Gater explains on the latest edition of our brilliant PastCast podcast, it was to prove both an emotional reunion and an exciting beginning, with two new partnerships set to shed light on Sutton Hoo, and more sites currently in development for further excavations this year.

Elsewhere this week on The Past, we have also been digging into the archives to discover more about the Time Team phenomenon: we looked at the show’s rise and fall over 20 years in the trenches; we joined the presenters on a dig at Kenfig, near Bridgend, to find out what working with a film crew is really like; and we celebrated the programme’s 200th episode by recalling how it first brought archaeology to the masses.

And finally: if all that simply whets your appetite, don’t forget to have a go at our latest themed Quiz, which this week is focused on favourite Time Team locations. Good luck, and we hope you enjoy The Past!

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