Of all the many side-effects of the coronavirus, perhaps the least expected (though most welcome) was a sudden revival of interest in a plucky little archaeology-based television series which last graced our screens way back in 2013. During the lockdown, however, it was reported that millions of people in more than 40 countries had been whiling away their newly enforced leisure hours by tuning in to classic episodes of Time Team on YouTube.
One thing led to another, and before long it was announced that Tim Taylor, the show’s original producer, had secured the backing of thousands of supporters, both new and old, via online funding platform Patreon, and that Time Team would officially be returning, with major new digs in Oxfordshire and Cornwall scheduled to be filmed later this year, should Covid conditions allow. For the programme’s many fans, the news came as a shaft of light at an otherwise dark time.
This week on The Past, we are celebrating the return of the Sunday-teatime show which became an unexpected national obsession: on the site and in the new issue of our sister magazine Current Archaeology, we talk to the creators of Time Team about what we can expect from its new incarnation; while on the latest edition of PastCast, our unmissable podcast, Carenza Lewis, a regular on the show, reveals some of her favourite memories.
Appropriately, we’ve also been excavating the Current Archaeology archives in search of buried Time Team treasure: in CA 252, we spoke to Tim Taylor about the show’s ongoing success and presented our pick of the Top 10 Time Team episodes; in CA 274, we charted the highs and lows of the format that brought archaeology to the people, and turned presenters such as Phil Harding and former CA columnist Mick Aston into some of TV’s first reality stars; and in CA 286, we joined Tony Robinson and the rest of the team in East Sussex as they searched for the real site of the Battle of Hastings.
Finally, if you’re as thrilled as we are at the return of Time Team, why not test your knowledge with our fiendish Friday quiz, which this week is also devoted to the show. Good luck, and we hope you enjoy The Past!
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