Team not the same without wise old sage

A while ago, comment was passed in a column about stumbling across a seldom viewed television station and ending up somewhat hooked. CNN was the network referred to at the time and while stations like Discovery and History tend to get an airing a lot more frequently than the American one, it’s admittedly only for certain shows.

Prof Mick Aston, Time Team

Favourites across the board include American Restoration and Counting Cars and Air Crash Investigation. The latter for the forensic and scientific elements thereof, rather than the more gory details. At the top of any such list, however, would undoubtedly be Time Team – the archaeological programme fronted for most if not all of the show’s duration by Sir Tony Robinson.
Now, the mere thought of having machinery and archaeologists come in and dig the place up could well be nauseating for most land owners. This has been seen very close to home. However, for someone to whom history and geography represented some of the more enjoyable aspects of time spent in education, it can be fascinating.
Not only in terms of actual finds discovered but – perhaps even more so – due to the intricacies of the detail that goes into the digging itself as well as the tools used at the carrying out thereof. It’s a programme that’s very aptly titled, because any team is only as good as the people thereon.
The line up is – or at least was – extremely well balanced. Robinson always looked the ideal anchor for such a job as it was clear he had a genuine interest in the subject matter. Professor Mick Aston being the worldly, educated font of wisdom while archaeologist Phil Harding giving off the air of a rough and ready country man with as much of an affinity to the land being excavated itself as anything it threw up.
Recently it was learned, with great regret, that Aston passed away last summer. And that he had – in fact – ended his association with the show a good while before his death. Even more disappointing, it appears that the show itself has been discontinued altogether. One can’t help wondering that such an unfortunate decision was arrived at simply because the team wasn’t the same without the wise old sage.
Whatever about from an entertainment viewpoint, Time Team would also – in fact maybe even more so – be a tremendous loss from an educational perspective were it not to make some class of a return. In relation to the latter, another column from earlier this year is recalled.
In the offering in question, the main theme was the – in my view misguided – plans to alter the status of history vis a vis what the future holds for it in education going forward. Right, so the situations may not be quite as drastic as each other, for all that, the loss of any historical outlet is both upsetting and worrying.
In the piece commenting on the proposed curriculum changes, the point was made that – apart from anything else – the loss of history – if it came to pass – would be a catastrophe owing to the undeniable role the past plays in shaping the future. So much of so many facets of life is based on tradition. How will these traditions be learned of and – more importantly – upheld if the link to the past is severed.
It is for that reason that it’d be hoped that the show will be revived. To this end, it’s at least encouraging to hear Robinson opine that he feels the show still has a future. The road forward may not be the same without Aston. Furthermore, it’d be a great pity if the reported dulling of the content which supposedly led to Aston’s departure was to lead to a permanent cancellation.
Credence is, mind you, afforded to Robinson’s assertion that all may not be lost when it’s considered that a crew did convene for an episode in tribute to Aston shortly after his passing. That could be a theme worth sticking to, as well. Surely, the retention of a good quality Time Team would be a fitting and lasting monument to the man who did so much to make it the great programme it was.


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