|Time Team is a very
succesful TV series now in its 12th season
(started 1993), a very respectable feat. This
series, taking a fast approach at archaeology
has, besides the ubiquitous criticism, generated
immense support and enthusiasm with the public.
Their formula, a speedy dig in just 3 days, has
become a very popular format.
normal Time Team format is a one-hour programme
documenting a 3-day, archaeological excavation at
a chosen site in the UK, but there have also been
Time Team Specials with live reporting over the
course of several days or showing what goes on
'behind the scenes'. In the early summer of 2005,
Time Team visited The Netherlands on one of their
very rare shoots outside of the UK, allowing me
one such rare look 'behind the scenes'.
Panoramic shot of the tower during filming.
special characteristic of the Time Team format is
that, on each site, a fairly down-to-earth, local
historical question is being investigated by
excavating in front of the cameras. The regular
team featured in the series consists of presenter
Tony Robinson (formerly seen as Baldrick in the
comedy series Blackadder) and the professional
archaeologists Mick Aston, Carenza Lewis, and
Phil Harding who have all become minor
celebrities. In addition, there is a large team
of support staff and a pool of experts that are
consulted when evidence in their area of
expertise comes to light. Besides excavations,
the programmes also involve experiments and
demonstrations with recreated techniques and
reconstructed artifacts. This time though, the
focus was not on a new excavation, but on an old
one, the 're'-excavation of a Roman
ship, while only a limited
number of experiments (in woodworking) took
Filming the first intro.
Shot from below for the
Getting ready for the
I had been asked to lend a hand
before (with a draco), so
when I was asked to make some arrangements for
filming at the tower, I took the opportunity to
meet the people of Time in the flesh. They
arrived on a very hot Friday morning, with
temperatures going past the 30 mark (signalling
an official heatwave, the earliest in the year on
record), but without the cameras, a minor
inconveniance. And while waiting for the rest of
the crew to retrieve these, Dennis and Graham
went on researching, looking for the best angles
and what to shoot where. After I had managed to
find a ladder, me and Dennis prepared the tower
by unscrewing some modern information signs that
might get in the way. Tony, meanwhile, prepared
his lines in the airconditioned car.
last the crew arived in their vans with the
cameras, and shooting commenced in the already
high tempratures. Tony's first line was something
like "As a Roman soldier, where would
you rather be, on Hadrian's Wall facing the
Pictish hordes, or here on the Lower Rhine,
amongst the swamps?" After finishing
that shot (plus once from underneath as well), it
was time for the second one. This time, Tony
descended the ladder (and I must add that it was
not a particularly steady one) while speaking of
the invitation by the Utrecht archaeologists to
the Time Team.
"Where would you rather be as a
My usual shot of the
A local bike was
requisitioned for the third intro.
Finally, we could move into the
shade, for Graham had thought of an intro for the
third day, in which Tony was supposed to ride a
bike. The team liked the lines of trees along the
Marsdijk (the road along the tower) that much
that they wanted to do that shot as well. The
problem was just that, although this is a major
bicycle route, no bikes happened to be found
anywhere.. At last a young lady on a very new
bike arrived, and she kindly leant her bike to
Tony, who then did his job like a true
professional. With a big thank you they then
loaded the cars and drove back to the site of the
excavation to do a last afternoon of filming.
Just in time, the next day we had some
thunderstorms that not only cooled us down a bit,
but also made it very wet all around the
Dennis and Graham on the tower for first
Toni, Graham and Dennis.
The camera crew on the tower.
Second intro - Toni gets a 'feel'
for the ladder.
intro - Toni gets down to earth again.