We haven’t been able to go out to a play, concert, or movie since mid-March, so we’ve been watching more television. We are not fans of police dramas or car chases, scary movies or even sit-coms.
Nope. We like documentaries, history, and cooking shows.
Alton Brown is always fun and educational in his approach to cooking, and the Great British Baking Show is delightfully dotty. I have gotten more adventurous in my baking because of Mary Berry’s demonstration lessons.
But the hidden gem is a British series called Time Team. This show ran from 1994 to 2014 on BBC 4 and is all about actual archeological digs in England. It is hosted by Tony Robinson, who I first knew as “Baldrick” on the old Black Adder series, and is unapologetically British.
Tony presents the digs, which happen all over the UK, but the actual archeology is done by Dr. Mick Aston, Dr. Carenza Lewis, and Phil Harding. Each of these very real and very educated people has their role to play, because each dig is seen as a story in and of itself. It has exposition, character development, conflict, mystery, and resolution.
Since they are all called by their first names, I will, too. Mick is the academic, fascinated by Anglo-Saxon history and dubious of anything too obvious. Carenza is enthusiastic but cautious, making sure the diggers don’t damage history while exploring it.
And then there’s Phil Harding, who has the best voice on tv. He comes from Wiltshire, southwest of London, and has a West Country accent like Rubeus Hagrid. He is enthusiastic about every aspect of his work, happiest on his knees with a trowel, looking for bits and bobs of history. His main answer to every conflict is, “Ya gotta dig.”
There are other folks, of course. Geophysics, the folks who see into the ground with radar and magnetometers, archivists who find the old records, and the artist who makes everything come to life. They all add to the mix for a perfectly satisfying dive into British history.
I have learned about Iron Age foundries in the Midlands, Roman villas near London, Anglo Saxon churches in Cornwall, and even a World War II Spitfire crash in Brittany, on a rare foray to the Continent. Time Team is like a class with five of the coolest professors ever.
I know you like learning new things. Maybe you could find Time Team on YouTube, like we did, and enjoy!