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Time Team is a Britishmarker television series shown on Channel 4 since 1994. Presented by actor Tony Robinson, a team of specialists carry out an archaeological dig in three days, with Robinson explaining the process in layman’s terms.

Time Team has had many companion shows during its run, including Time Team Extra, History Hunters and Time Team Digs. The series also features special episodes, often documentaries on history or archaeology, and live episodes.

Time Team was developed from an earlier Channel 4 series Time Signs, first broadcast in 1991. Produced by Tim Taylor, it featured Mick Aston and Phil Harding, who both went on to appear on Time Team.


A team of archaeologists, usually led by either Mick Aston or Francis Pryor (the latter usually heads Bronze Age and Iron Age digs), and including field archaeologist Phil Harding, congregate at a site, usually in the United Kingdommarker. The site is frequently suggested by a member of the viewing public who knows of an unsolved archaeological mystery, or who owns property that has not been excavated and is potentially interesting. Time Team uncover as much as they can about the archaeology and history of the site in three days, often in conjunction with the local archaeological unit.

At the start of the programme, Tony Robinson explains, in his "piece to camera", the reasons for the team's visit to the site, and during the dig he enthusiastically encourages the archaeologists to explain their decisions, discoveries and conclusions. He tries to ensure that everything is comprehensible to the archaeologically uninitiated.

Excavations are not just carried out to entertain viewers. The archaeologists involved with Time Team have published more scientific papers on excavations carried out in the series than all British university archaeology departments put together over the same period.

Other team members

The regular team also includes:

The original Time Team line-up from 1994 has altered over the years. Historian Robin Bush was a regular in the first nine series, having been involved with the programme through his long friendship with Mick Aston. In 2005 Carenza Lewis left to pursue other interests. She was replaced by Anglo-Saxon specialist Helen Geake.

The team is supplemented by experts appropriate for the period and type of site. Guy de la Bédoyère has often been present for Roman digs, as well as those involving the Second World War such as D-Day and aircraft (such as the Spitfire). Margaret Cox often assists with forensic archaeology, and other specialists who appear from time to time include David S. Neal, expert on Roman mosaics. Local historians also join in when appropriate.

More recent regular team members have included archaeologist Neil Holbrook and historian Sam Newton.

Younger members of Time Team who have made or currently make regular appearances include:

Mick Worthington, formerly nicknamed "Mick the Dig" (to separate him from Mick Aston) as he worked largely on site excavation in the early years, occasionally still appears in his current occupation of dendrochronologist but with his nicknamed changed to "Mick the Twig". He is currently a partner in the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory.

See for a full listing


Time Team is commissioned by Channel 4 Television (the broadcaster) and made in partnership between VideoText Communications Ltd and Picturehouse Television Co. Ltd (based in Londonmarker). Recently-formed Wildfire Television was involved in the production of The Big Roman Dig (2005) and The Big Royal Dig (2006). It is produced by Tim Taylor, the show's originator, with Associate Producer Tony Robinson.


Sites may be suggested by landowners, local archaeologists, academics, interested bodies or members of the general public, and have included everything from the Paleolithic period to World War II. For example programmes have featured the excavation of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, Roman villas and medieval churches. Several excavations have resulted in the discovery of sites of national significance.

Other formats

Other shows

Time Team's Big Dig was an expansion on the live format. A weekend of live broadcasts in June 2003 was preceded by a week of daily short programmes. It involved about a thousand members of the public in excavating test pits each one metre square by fifty centimetres deep. Most of these pits were in private gardens and the project stirred up controversies about approaches to public archaeology.

Time Team's Big Roman Dig (2005) saw this format altered, in an attempt to avoid previous controversies, through the coverage of nine archaeological sites around the UK which were already under investigation by professional archaeologists. Time Team covered the action through live link-ups based at a Roman Villa at Dinnington in Somerset - itself a Time Team excavation from 2003. Over 60 other professionally-supervised excavations were supported by Time Team and carried out around the country in association with the programme. A further hundred activities relating to Roman history were carried out by schools and other institutions around the UK.

Time Team Specials are documentary programmes about topics in history and archaeology made by the same production company. They are generally presented by Tony Robinson and often feature one or more of the familiar faces from the regular series of Time Team. In some cases the programme makers have followed the process of discovery at a large commercial or research excavation by another body. Time Team usually does not carry out excavations for these programmes, but may contribute a reconstruction.

Time Team History of Britain Tony and the team document everything they have learned up to now and show a history of Britain.

Behind the Scenes of Time Team Shows meetings of the archaeologists, and material not transmitted during the episode of the dig.

10 Years of Time Team We get a round-up of what has happened in Time Team over the past 10 years and what they expect to happen in the future.

Time Team America A US version of the programme broadcast on PBS from July 2009, and co-produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Videotext/C4i.

Impact on public interest in archaeology

Time Team regularly receives two to three million viewers, with at least 20 million turning on at some point over any one series . Foreign audiences also enjoy the programme, with particular interest in the Netherlandsmarker. The programme has also been transmitted on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United Statesmarker, on TVOntario in Canadamarker, on ABC1 and ABC2 in Australia, on Kanal 9 in Swedenmarker and some episodes have also been broadcast by History International.

There is no doubt that Time Team has substantially raised public awareness and understanding of archaeology. Time Team contributor Francis Pryor has written: "Before the first series of Time Team in 1993, it was hard work starting an excavation. I can remember arriving at a building site in Fengatemarker, where I was to cut some exploratory trial trenches. When I announced that I was an archaeologist, some wit in a JCB quipped that I had lost my way to Egyptmarker. Much hilarity. After Time Team that same chap would be asking when I was planning to bring in the geophysics."

Archaeologist Robert Van de Noort, Head of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources at the University of Exetermarker, said: "Tony Robinson's Honorary Doctorate, and the Honorary Professorships for principal presenter Mick Aston and producer Tim Taylor, reflect our great appreciation for what Time Team has done for the public understanding of archaeology in this country. We know that the enthusiasm and skill of those working on the show has contributed greatly to creating a new generation of archaeologists, some of whom we hope to teach here at Exeter."

2007 accident

On 13 September 2007, while filming a jousting re-enactment for a special episode of Time Team, a splinter from a balsa wood lance entered the eye-slit of one of the participants. Paul Anthony Allen (1953–2007), a member of a re-enactment society, died a week later in hospital. Channel 4 stated that the programme would be shown, but without the re-enactment sequence. The episode was transmitted on 25 February 2008 and was dedicated to Allen.




  1. Channel 4 programme website (Retrieved 23 October 2007)
  2. Francis Pryor Quote, 2005
  3. Honorary degree for Time Team's Tony Robinson, Exeter University, conferral 2005-07-25
  4. BBC News(Retrieved 22 Oct 2007)


  • Current Archaeology magazine
  • Ambrus, Victor and Aston, Mick, Recreating the Past (Tempus, 2001).
  • Aston, Mick, Mick's Archaeology (Tempus, 2000, new edition 2002).
  • Gaffney, Chris and Gater, John, Revealing the buried past: Geophysics for archaeologists (Tempus, 2003).
  • Lewis, Carenza, Harding, Phil and Aston, Mick, edited by Tim Taylor, Time Team's Timechester (Channel 4 Books, 2000).
  • Pryor, Francis, Flag Fen: Life and death of a prehistoric landscape (Tempus, 2005).
  • Robinson, Tony and Aston, Mick, Archaeology is Rubbish (Channel 4 Books, 2002).
  • Taylor, Tim, with photographs by Bennett, Chris, Behind the Scenes at Time Team (Channel 4 Books, 2000).
  • Taylor, Tim, Digging the Dirt (Channel 4 Books, 2001).
  • Taylor, Tim, Time Team Guide to the Archaeological Sites of Britain and Ireland (Channel 4 Books, 2005).
  • Taylor, Tim, The Ultimate Time Team Companion: An alternative history of Britain (Macmillan, 1999).

External links

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