As most of you are aware, the BRP has featured a lot in the British television media in recent months. We’ve had spots on the BBC’s Countryfile and Digging for Britain, and we’ll feature in an episode of Time Team to be aired in sometime in the Spring of 2011. In the past, we’ve also worked with film crews from the Discovery Channel and on the BBC’s popular Meet the Ancestors programme.
These programmes follow a long tradition of archaeology on British television, which began in 1952 with the programme Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, starring the famous Sir Mortimer Wheeler.
The BBC is currently offering access to episodes of its Chronicle series, which broadcast for twenty-five years and was arguably one of the most popular and influential series about archaeology. As the BBC website explains:
“For 25 years, the BBC’s archaeology series took viewers around the world to explore historical excavations and discover long-gone cultures and civilisations.
With a mix of live broadcasts and filmed documentaries, ‘Chronicle’ brought some of the greatest archaeologists of the 20th Century into our homes. In this collection, we look back at a selection of programmes from the series, including reports on ancient Greece and Sutton Hoo, plus a memorable live broadcast from the Silbury Mound.”
You can watch these fascinating programmes at the Chronicle page of the BBC website. Unfortunately, if you live outside the UK you may not be able to access these pages!
Wherever you are in the world, we’d love to hear about your most loved and loathed TV archaeologies/archaeologists. What do you think about archaeology on television? What would you like to see on your screens in the future?
You can also find out a little bit more about TV archaeology in the UK irrespective of where you live reading some of the material suggested below:
Television Archaeology: Education or Entertainment? by Don Henson, Council for British Archaeology
Ray Sutcliffe, Chronicle: Essays from Ten Years of TV Archaeology. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1978
If you’re interested in archaeology in film and television more broadly, you can also check out:
Cornelius Holtorf, Archaeology is a brand! The meaning of archaeology in contemporary popular culture. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007
Cornelius Holtorf, From Stonehenge to Las Vegas: Archaeology as Popular Culture. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2005
Miles Russell (ed.), Digging Holes in Popular Culture: Archaeology and Science Fiction. Oxford: Oxbow, 2002