Could the axed Time Team return in honour of a former favourite? A campaign backed by 17,000 fans is gathering momentum
Mick Aston’s death in June last year, a few months on from the official demise of Time Team, had come, as fellow presenter and archaeologist Tony Robinson puts it, a couple of years after the Professor had left the hugely popular Channel 4 show “in a bit of a grump”.
© Courtesy G de la Bedoyere
“He left every organisation he ever worked for in a bit of a grump,” adds Robinson.
“It’s quite extraordinary he spent 20 years with us before he did.”
Aston may have been moody, but he was also revered. Lee Brady, a fan who created a tribute page to him on Facebook, also launched a petition calling for a Time Team one-off in honour of its former stalwart. Personal circumstances have caused the campaign to stall slightly, but more than 11,000 supporters have joined the page, with the petition signatories nearing 5,000.
“I’ve just got to keep promoting it,” says Brady.
“With Time Team ending after 20 years – Channel 4 axed it and that – I wondered if the old team would all get together and do a one-off special in memory of Mick. He would have liked to have been a part of that.
“I’m using my Twitter account to kickstart it again. Hopefully we’ll get the special.
“I’ve always been into little bits of history and stuff. I got into metal detecting as a hobby, you see – I just remember going out with a friend who said, ‘here you are, try this, we’ll go out.’
“I was like, ‘ah, yeah, it’s brilliant that.’ I remember seeing it on Time Team after that, someone using a metal detector, and I said, ‘that’s what we were using on there the other day.’
“I was just glued after that.”
The groundswell for the idea, hashtagged DIG4MICK, is impressive. Channel 4 may take more persuading: Brady sent bosses an early version of the petition, receiving a reply acknowledging his desire for the dig and Professor Aston’s “integral” part in the programme.
“Who knows?” ponders Robinson. “There are always political problems.
“Certainly as far as televising the dig is concerned, I think Channel 4 might be uneasy about bringing Time Team back to life because they might feel that they would be subject to even more flack than they got when they cancelled it in the first place.”
Brady feels any new episodes should go back to basics.
“They changed the format and started bringing daft games into it,” he rues. “The way they were getting dressed up, daft things like that.
“They should do away with all that – we just want to see the digging part and what they find and more archaeology.
“I think a few viewers were turned off. That was what Channel 4 done. And then they turn round and go, ‘oh well, the viewers are gone now, we’ll have to.’
“It was like, ‘hold on, give it a chance, you’re the ones who changed all the stuff – put it back to the way it was.'
“But obviously you don’t know what’s gone on. With a little bit of promotion I think it would be a big hit and loads of people would watch it.
“I’ll even start using my own wages – that’s how passionate I am about it.”
He suggests Wessex Archaeology, who were strongly involved in the programme, as potential supporters, and has the unequivocal backing of Robinson.
“From my point of view, I think it would be a wonderful thing to do,” says the broadcaster.
“I would love to see one final Time Team conducted in the very best way it possibly could be, and let’s hope the campaign succeeds.”
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