Monday, 9 April 2012

Digging up Trouble

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love the archaeology programme 'Time Team'. I record old episodes and they are a staple ‘play in the background’ type of programme while I work on the Computer. Since I don’t kweep up very well with the news of the day I was unaware that it was rocked in February by a major row.

Mick Aston and Tony Robinson

Mick Aston, he of the multi-coloured jumpers, who has been in team since it started 19 series ago, has resigned in a row over the programme being dumbed down. The 65 year old professor of archaeology said he’d been left seething at alterations which resulted in “a lot less archaeological content and a lot more pratting about. The time had come to leave. I never made any money out of it, but a lot of my soul went into it. I feel really, really angry about it.”

Mary-Ann Ochota

The archaeologists were told last year by producers that the Channel 4 show was seeking a female co-presenter who “does not have to be overly experienced or knowledgeable as we have plenty of expertise within the existing team”. So ex-model Mary-Ann Ochota, 30, (dubbed the show’s “totty”) was introduced as Tony Robin-son’s co-presenter. Now Cambridge-educated Mary-Ann has told her fans she will not be returning either. It sounds like the team is in a mess.

P.S. Dictionary definition of pratting' :
(verb) to behave stupidly, especially when you should be behaving in a responsible way; messing about; fumbling; mucking about; particularly used in the north of England in a derogatory way,

Dictionary definition of 'totty' :
(noun] a girl or woman, especially one regarded as sexually desirable.


  1. Since totty rhymed with hotty (which American males call attractive, sexy women), I figured that one out. Sounds so sad, that kind of thing happens on TV here. They seem to think we all prefer sex and violence over thinking kinds of shows. That's why I love PBS and BBCAmerica to get really creative shows.

  2. It's not a programme I've ever set out to watch although I was happy to watch it if someone else wanted to. However dumbing everything down seems to be the objective in most things these days. Find the lowest common denominator and cater for it. Then we wonder why the West is becoming a conglomeration of nations of losers. Am I beginning to qualify as a Grumpy Old Man?

  3. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to look up Mary-Ann's credentials because my general understanding of the word 'totty' is that as well a being sexually desirable there is a tendency also to attribute a certain lack of, shall we say, academic achievement when using the word. It's not generally a word associated with high acclaim.

    Mary-Ann does, however, at least have a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge and, whilst she may have been a former model, it doesn't seem to have featured at the top of her list of attributes and jobs.

    So while she obviously is not likely to be able to bring the same level of knowledge as Prof Aston she probably wouldn't have been a complete ignoramus.

    I know you weren't suggesting that she was but I rather jumped to the conclusion that she was rather more eye-candy than substance whereas that may not be the case.

  4. Yes, GB - but she herself pointed out, in her interview, that she was not taken on to the programme for any educational / archaeological background but as a co-presenter to ask the questions the public would ask. Hence the fact that I only referred to her Cambridge background and not specifically to her archaeology one.

  5. Nought wrong with having a programme presented by someone who knows their stuff AND looks good at the same time. But there is a lot wrong with dumbing down programmes.
    My weekly paper sometimes does the same, I'm afraid; every now and then, they seem to be going to great lengths (or, more correctly, rather shallow depths) to atrract a broader readership. Of course the TV stations and newspaper publishers need to have a certain number of audience or readers in order to survive, but if I want to be merely entertained without any learning or stimulating effect on my mind, I know where to go and do not want my paper or programme to be spoiled.

  6. Afraid I'd got to the same point as Mick Aston a few series ago and gave up watching Time Team. It got to the point where there was so much chatting or re-enactments that there wasn't enough time to fully understand what they had found or the significance of it. You could tell that the producers knew that as they would send you to the website for more information on each dig. If they know there is more to say, then they should have said it and dropped the extraneous fluff.

  7. Oh for the days when Carrensa (not sure of the spelling of her name), used to be on Time Team. I too love the programme and have
    several programmes stacked up for "wet day" viewing. Phil is an absolute joy to listen to and Tony Robinson darting about like a demented rabbit at times is worth a watch. I have understood the past so much more by watching this programme. It is a great shame that the Professor is leaving. I wonder who knits his sweaters?

  8. I love this programme too, it's on one of my cable channels. I suspect we're behind in the broadcasting though and I don't think I've seen any of the episodes with Mary-Ann Ochota. Nor have I heard anything about this break-up of the team.

  9. Loved the earlier editions of this show! They always found something so interesting -- like the evidence of stone age settlements under the town square or in some farmer's field. Really made the past seem close at hand.


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