A very small casserole

A conversation I was having reminded me of this…

This short clip is from the tremendously popular series, ‘Blackadder’ starring Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder and Tony Robinson has is his servant Baldrick. It only ran for four series although there were several single episode ‘specials’ In case you don’t know it, it was a comedy series with each season set in a different historical period but with the same two lead characters. Over the series there were many well-known actors who ‘guested’ some on a fairly regular basis. The first series set  in the Middle Ages, the second in Tudor times at the court of Queen Elizabeth, the third in the Georgian period, and the last in World War 1. Rowan Atkinson co-wrote the first series with Richard Curtis, all following episodes were by Curtis and Ben Elton.

My featured image is of an Irish castle – no Blackadder was filmed here, although The Game of Thrones might have been! It’s Dunluce in County Antrim.


Watching Time Team

Lovely sunshine meant loads of washing, and loads of washing means loads of ironing. I set up the ironing board in the sitting room and went through the channels on the TV to find something to watch. I was pleased to find that my all-time favourite programme was being repeated, Time Team.

Time team is a programme about archaeology, using a team of renowned and revered archaeologists and other experts. it is presented by Tony Robinson, now Sir Tony, who is well-known as an actor, and the premise is that the team have three days to do a ‘dig’, usually to find a particular thing, or the truth about a particular place, or at the behest of a viewer, or history club or society, who believe they have something of interest in their local. It may seem on paper to be an artificial concept ‘only three days to find out whether…’ but if it was just an open-ended challenge it would go on forever! However, because of the quality of those involved, their knowledge, their personalities, the seriousness with which they took on the challenge – and yet with friendly humour among the team, it was not only a huge, huge success, but must have inspired thousands upon thousands of people young and old to become interested in history, and what lies beneath our feet.

There were twenty series plus ‘specials’, for example week-end events, and although there were many different people involved, the main team consisted of a lead archaeologist, usually Professor Mick Aston, a couple of diggers and archaeologists including the amazing Phil Harding and his hat, a landscape investigator, a geophysicist, a surveyor and an illustrator. There were other regular diggers, who appeared week after week, series after series.

The programme was eventually cancelled which was a great shame; it had begun to change, in my opinion, as although the core team remained strong and never, ever, ever, ever  dumbed down, somehow the emphasis seemed to shift as if trying to appeal to an imaginary audience  who wouldn’t know the first thing about archaeology. In fact, I believe the viewers were enlightened and educated, enthralled and intrigued – even young children loved the show, as I know from my own family!

Watching it again as I busily ironed, I thought again how sad it was that it no longer had new series, and how grateful I was to all concerned for the twenty years of episodes I have enjoyed.


Goodbye, Time Team… I shall miss you

Last night saw the final episode of a television series which has been running for twenty years, and every programme (and I’ve watched most of them) was a winner! The series is Time Team and thhe premise is that a team of archaeologists should dig a site in three days. It sounds amazing that they should hope to find anything in these three-day events, but they do, because of the skills and expertise of the team and the use of technology.

The programme is fronted by Tony Robinson, an actor, the archaeology team is led for the most episodes by either Professor Mick Aston, or Francis Pryor. As well as the lead field archaeologist  the fabulous Phil Harding (and his hat) there is a geo-physics team  organised by John Gator; the other ‘regular’  and a man I find fascinating in his ability to ‘read’ a landscape, Stewart Ainsworth.

What is nice about watching the programme over the years you see people who start as diggers and become  more and more prominent as the series evolves such as Raksha Dave, Matt Williams It is the personalities of the team, and their interaction which adds to the interest in the programme, even Ian the digger driver is an archaeologist!

I vividly remember the first ever Time Team because the site they chose was Athelney, not too far from where we live; following the programme we went to Athelney and it was so interesting to be able to look at the area and have some grasp of what went on there a thousand or so years ago…. and that was what Time Team did, it made you go out and look at place with new eyes  see the history around us. There were events organised which involved whole villages, or young people, or the whole country, such as the Big Dig – people dug a square metre of their back garden to see what they could find. We dug, but sadly found nothing!

Time Team dug all across the British isles, and on the continent, and in the Americas… even when they found nothing, which did occasionally happen, it was interesting.

I’m shocked that the plug has been pulled on such a great programme; it had everything, serious archaeology,   fun,  skill, personalities, history, information… everything… and not forgetting the wonderful pictures by Victor Ambrus the site artist.

Goodbye Time Team, I’m really sad you’re finished, shame on Channel 4 for cancelling you, but luckily I can continue to watch the repeats… not quite the same as the excitement of a new episode.