History on TV

(89 Posts)
MadBusLady Sat 15-Sep-12 15:03:58

Sooo, this comes off the back of this thread about Richard III and then this thread about MN History Club.

I thought it might be good to have a big general thread about any history on TV we are watching/looking forward to/really enjoyed in the past. And I see we are already tackling some of the major themes such as the rugged cheekbones and leather jackets of the presenters on the other thread. wink

We're currently watching Neil Oliver's Vikings series, which is ace - what I really like about it is he starts out in the first programme in the Scandinavian bronze age/iron age, and showed where the Vikings had come from as a culture.

Is it safe to bitch about time team? I hate anyone who brings a jcb to an archaeological excavation!

I loved the BBC series on the Royal Manuscripts.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0192nrg

Sadly, no especially dishy blokes. sad

MadBusLady Sat 15-Sep-12 15:09:19

As Eddie Izzard has, YOU'VE GOT FIFTEEN MINUTES TO FIND THE CITEEEEE! LET'S GOOOOO!

Well, on the one hand they're getting people interested in archaeology etc etc and so on and so forth, and also they do a very limited number of keyholey trenches so it's usually "only" a bit of 18th century broken china in a few spots they're destroying.

But on the other hand, yes.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 15:11:07

I would love to discuss Time Team. The whole 'three days to dig up the goodies' seems so at odds with the ethics of responsible excavation.

And Guy de la Bedoyere is not a real archaeologist, surely?

MadBusLady Sat 15-Sep-12 15:12:57

(I have to go and buy jeans now, bane. of. life., but back later)

MadBusLady Sat 15-Sep-12 15:13:39

He has THE coolest name though. I suspect he is actually a medieval knight and has fallen through a hole in the space-time continuum of some kind.

Time team made archaeology fashionable and meant there was an influx of students onto courses at universities who just saw it as a way of getting into the media...

Ooh, yes, please, let's be allowed to diss TV history! grin DH won't let me because I interrupt the telly too much. blush

silly - I heard the same about Bones and forensic anthropology (though from a very patronizing lad who was sneering that all these silly women had signed up to do it assuming they'd meet David Boreanaz-type men).

Having experience of both archaeology and forensic science (different jobs) I can sympathise with the ire held for programmes like Time Team and Bones (although CSI is my particular forensic bugbear!).

alcibiades Sat 15-Sep-12 16:12:16

I've just added a Neil Oliver DVD - A History of Ancient Briton - to my Amazon wish list. smile

I liked the early series of Time Team, but the more recent ones don't seem to have as much scientific content and seem to be going more for the wow factor. I think the show does have some value, though, because TV money pays for explorations that couldn't otherwise be afforded.

There's a series being repeated currently (probably for the umpteenth time) on Discovery History about the American Civil War. There's a lot of content in that, and it was that series that first got me interested in the history of the USA.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 16:35:19

Most of the Time Team sites haven't needed digging up, though.

Turkdean villa was a classic - they were all so disappointed because they didn't find a bloody great mosaic, despite the fact that the site was actually otherwise fascinating.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 16:37:48

I don't get Discovery, <sad> I only have Freeview.

IKnowItsMyFaultBut Sat 15-Sep-12 16:43:27

The vast majority of archaeological sites will at some point have a JCB on them! Removing the overburden (topsoil etc) by hand would take forever.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 16:46:49

And there was some trouble with Time Team digging up skeletons in Gosport or Portsmouth, wasn't there?

IKnowItsMyFaultBut Sat 15-Sep-12 16:50:06

You do need a licence to do it. Time team doesn't really resemble normal, commercial archaeology. It's a TV program first and foremost.

What gets me is when they don't find anything pretty enough for the tele, so they borrow stuff from the local museum and stand around on site holding it and talking about it. Very bizarre.

Time team is all about glory finding rather than doing anything of significant historical interest. Plus baldrick pisses me off with his whole "only I am worthy of speaking directly to the camera" thing.

And yep, removing topsoil by hand takes time, I've done it myself on digs, but is worth it to preserve the layers and to accurately record finds.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 17:24:05

They should have removed the topsoil by hand at Turkdean because the most interesting thing about the site was probably the immediate thin post-Roman layer, just under the topsoil. Which was scraped off by machines, to get to the villa (and the mosaics).

IKnowItsMyFaultBut Sat 15-Sep-12 17:34:04

Removing overburden by hand is the ideal, however it would massively increase time and budget to the point that many sites would just not get done.

Some machine drivers are amazingly accurate too. Some however, should not be put in control of a lawnmower!

The recent one about Henry V111 "Patron or Plunderer" was good. Enjoyed seeing the tapestries, etc. very much. The presenter was strangely dishy too.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 18:06:27

I know hand excavation of the topsoil can't be accomplished in rescue / developer-funded archaeology. But no-one's making Time Team dig anything.

Christ they give me the rage.

MadBusLady Sat 15-Sep-12 19:22:48

To be fair I'm pretty sure I've read about TT being fully aware that they are usually doing an experimental probe dig, which may or may not pave the way for someone else to come along and do a proper excavation.

My problem with them (apart from "Is it ritual/human sacrifice?") is more that they can't help giving the impression that you "study" archaeology by digging stuff up. Which is just as misleading as the idea that you work in archaeology by going on TV. There's a point of view that we'd get more benefit from having more stuff published, catalogued and studied thoroughly that's already been dug, rather than spending every summer producing yet more wheelbarrowfuls of potsherds.

LineRunner Sat 15-Sep-12 19:25:09

God I love cataloguing.

Ritual!!! Aaaarrrggghhh!

Breakfast is a ritual!

Putting on socks is a ritual!

It means nothing!!!!

<Goes for a lie down>

Tryingtobenice Sat 15-Sep-12 19:35:26

Anyone see 'the British' on sky? Truly horrible dumbed down history. If you need that much cgi and russel brand opining to interest people then don't bother, just do another dance contest show or something.

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