Time Team

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Time Team
Time Team logo.png
Created by Tim Taylor
Presented by
Theme music composer Paul Greedus
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series22
No. of episodes 286 [lower-alpha 1]
Executive producerTim Taylor
Running time47 minutes [lower-alpha 2]
Production companyVideoText Communications Ltd
Original release
Network Channel 4
Release16 January 1994 (1994-01-16) 
7 September 2014 (2014-09-07)
Network YouTube
Release2 April 2011 (2011-04-02) [1]  
From left to right: Tony Robinson, Mick Aston, and Guy de la Bedoyere in 2007 TimeTeam2007.jpg
From left to right: Tony Robinson, Mick Aston, and Guy de la Bédoyère in 2007
Aston with producer Tim Taylor in 2005 MickAston.jpg
Aston with producer Tim Taylor in 2005
Aston and Robinson, Time Team Series 8 shoot at Waltham Fields, Whittington, Gloucestershire, England, 2000, transmitted 2001 Mick Aston and Tony Robinson, Waltham Fields, 2000.jpg
Aston and Robinson, Time Team Series 8 shoot at Waltham Fields, Whittington, Gloucestershire, England, 2000, transmitted 2001

Time Team is a British television programme that originally aired on Channel 4 from 16 January 1994 to 7 September 2014. It returned in 2022 on online platforms YouTube and Patreon. Created by television producer Tim Taylor and presented by actor Tony Robinson, each episode featured a team of specialists carrying out an archaeological dig over a period of three days, with Robinson explaining the process in lay terms. The specialists changed throughout the programme's run, although it consistently included professional archaeologists such as Mick Aston, Carenza Lewis, Francis Pryor and Phil Harding. The sites excavated ranged in date from the Palaeolithic to the Second World War.


In October 2012, Channel 4 announced that the final series would be broadcast in 2013. [2] Series 20 was screened from January–March 2013 and nine specials were screened between May 2013 and September 2014. In May 2021, Taylor announced the return of the series, with free episodes to be shown on YouTube. [3] The first episodes of the revival began appearing on YouTube in 2022.


At the start of the programme, Tony Robinson explains, in an opening "piece to camera", the reasons for the team's visit to the site and during the dig, he enthusiastically encourages the archaeologists to explain their decisions, discoveries and conclusions. He tries to ensure that everything is comprehensible to the archaeologically uninitiated. The site is frequently suggested by a member of the viewing public. Time Team uncover as much as they can of the archaeology and history of the site in three days.

Excavations are not just carried out to entertain viewers. Robinson claims that the archaeologists involved with Time Team have published more scientific papers on excavations carried out in the programme than all British university archaeology departments over the same period and that by 2013, the programme had become the biggest funder of field archaeology in the country. [4] [5]

Team members

A team of archaeologists, usually led by Mick Aston or Francis Pryor (the latter usually heading Bronze Age and Iron Age digs), including field archaeologist Phil Harding, congregate at a site, usually in Britain. The original Time Team line-up from 1994 has changed over the years. Historian and archivist Robin Bush was a regular in the first nine series, having been involved with the programme through his long friendship with Aston. Architectural historian Beric Morley featured in ten episodes between 1995 and 2002. [6] In 2005, Carenza Lewis left to pursue other interests. She was replaced by Helen Geake, Anglo-Saxon specialist. The regular team also included: [7] Stewart Ainsworth, landscape investigator; John Gater and Chris Gaffney, archaeological geophysicists; Henry Chapman, surveyor; and Victor Ambrus, illustrator.

The team was supplemented by experts appropriate for the period and type of site. Guy de la Bédoyère has often been present for Roman digs, as well as those involving the Second World War such as D-Day and aircraft (such as the Spitfire). Architectural historian Jonathan Foyle has appeared in episodes relating to excavations of country estates. Paul Blinkhorn (pottery), Mark Corney (coins), Carl Thorpe (pottery), and Jackie McKinley (bones) have appeared from time to time. Mick 'the dig' Worthington, an excavator in the early series, occasionally returned as a dendrochronologist, whereupon he was dubbed 'Mick the twig'. Osteoarcheologist Margaret Cox often assisted with forensic archaeology, mainly between 1998 and 2005. Other specialists who appeared from time to time include historian Bettany Hughes, archaeologist Gustav Milne, East of England specialist Ben Robinson, architectural historian Richard K. Morriss, and David S. Neal, expert on Roman mosaics. Local historians also joined in.

In February 2012, it was announced that Aston had left the show because of format changes. The disputed changes included hiring anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota as a co-presenter, dispensing with other archaeologists and what he thought were plans to "cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology". [8] [9] "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," he told British Archaeology magazine. [8] Time Team producer Tim Taylor released a statement in response to the news reports saying "His concerns are of great importance to me. We have addressed some of them" and that "you've not heard the last of Mick on Time Team". [10]

Regular team members in later years included archaeologist Neil Holbrook, Roman coins specialist Philippa Walton, and historian Sam Newton. Younger members of Time Team who made regular appearances include Jenni Butterworth, Raksha Dave, [7] [11] Kerry Ely, Brigid Gallagher, Rob Hedge, Katie Hirst, Alex Langlands, Cassie Newland, Ian Powlesland, Alice Roberts, Faye Simpson, [12] Barney Sloane, Tracey Smith, and Matt Williams. [13] [14] [15]


Time Team developed from an earlier Channel 4 programme, Time Signs , first broadcast in 1991. Produced by Taylor, Time Signs had featured Aston and Harding, who went on to appear on Time Team. Following Time Signs' cancellation, Taylor went on to develop a more attractive format, producing the idea for Time Team, which Channel 4 also picked up, broadcasting the first series in 1994. Time Team has had many companion shows during its run, including Time Team Extra (1998), History Hunters (1998–1999) and Time Team Digs (2002), whilst several spin-off books have been published. The programme features special episodes, often documentaries on history or archaeology and live episodes. The programme has been exported to 35 other countries. [16] [lower-alpha 3] Time Team America , a US version of the programme, was broadcast on PBS in 2009. [lower-alpha 4]

On 13 September 2007, during the filming of a jousting reenactment for a special episode of Time Team, a splinter from a balsa wood lance went through the eye-slit in the helmet of one of the participants and entered his eye socket. 54 year-old Paul Anthony Allen, a member of a re-enactment society, died a week later in hospital. [17] Channel 4 stated that the programme would be shown, but without the re-enactment sequence. The episode, dedicated to Allen, was transmitted on 25 February 2008.


In 2012, Aston announced he was leaving the show after criticising format changes that focused less on archaeological activities. [2] Channel 4 subsequently announced that the final Time Team series would be broadcast in 2013. [2] Viewing figures had been in decline from 2.5 million in 2008 to 1.5 million in November 2011. [2] The regular Time Team programme ended on 24 March 2013. Aston died unexpectedly on 24 June 2013. [18]

In October 2013, Robinson said in an interview with Radio Times that he believed Time Team still had life in it and suggested that after a three- or four-year absence it could make a return. He also expressed support for a fan-organised Facebook campaign to bring the Time Team crew together again to carry out a dig in memory of Aston. [19] The final Time Team special aired on 7 September 2014.


In December 2020, producer Tim Taylor announced that Time Team would begin airing episodes on a YouTube channel called "Time Team Classics". [20] Taylor also announced the launch of the Time Team Patreon page, allowing fans to financially support efforts to revive the series. [20] On 29 January 2021, the project exceeded its goal of 3,000 patrons. [21]

On 17 May 2021, Taylor made an announcement on the return of the series, with episodes planned to air for free on the YouTube channel. [3] Confirmed team members included Carenza Lewis, John Gater, Helen Geake, Stewart Ainsworth, Raysan Al-Kubaisi, Neil Emmanuel, Naomi Sewpaul, Matt Williams, Henry Chapman, Dani Wootton, Brigid Gallagher, Neil Holbrook, Suzannah Lipscomb, Jimmy Adcock, Natalie Haynes, Derek Pitman, Lawrence Shaw, Pete Spencer, and several returning production team members. [3]

In September 2021, it was announced that Gus Casely-Hayford and Natalie Haynes would present the revived series. [22]

Series 21 featured two three-part episodes, each covering a new dig conducted in 2021. [23] The first of these episodes, which premiered between 18 and 20 March 2022, covered the excavation of an Iron Age settlement on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. [24] [25] [26] The second episode premiered between 8 and 10 April 2022 and featured the excavation of a Roman villa in the grounds of Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire, discovered by metal detectorist and amateur archaeologist Keith Westcott in 2016. [27] [28] [29] [30]

Time Team returned to Broughton Castle to answer questions related to a mysterious stone sarcophagus. The first of this two-part episode premiered on 22 December 2022. [31]

Further episodes were released in 2023 and 2024:

On 8 March 2024, the Time Team YouTube channel announced plans to dig Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, in June 2024. [37] A feature-length documentary of the dig will be presented by Tony Robinson and is to be released in 2025. [38]


The series' original theme music was composed by Paul Greedus. [39]

The majority of the incidental tracks and main themes for the show, and for many of the specials (Dinosaur Hunting in Montana, D-Day, The Big Dig etc) were composed by Steve Day. [40] [ better source needed ]

Other formats

Time Team's Big Dig was an expansion on the live format. A weekend of live broadcasts in June 2003 was preceded by a week of daily short programmes. It involved about a thousand members of the public in excavating test pits each one metre square by fifty centimetres deep. Most of these pits were in private gardens and the project stirred up controversies about approaches to public archaeology.

Time Team's Big Roman Dig (2005) saw this format altered, in an attempt to avoid previous controversies, through the coverage of nine archaeological sites around the UK which were already under investigation by professional archaeologists. Time Team covered the action through live link-ups based at a Roman Villa at Dinnington in Somerset – itself a Time Team excavation from 2003. Over 60 other professionally supervised excavations were supported by Time Team and carried out around the country in association with the programme. A further hundred activities relating to Roman history were carried out by schools and other institutions around the UK.

Time Team Specials are documentary programmes about topics in history and archaeology made by the same production company. They are generally presented by Robinson and often feature one or more of the familiar faces from the regular programme of Time Team. In some cases the programme makers have followed the process of discovery at a large commercial or research excavation by another body, such as that to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the ending of the First World War at the Vampire dugout in Belgium. Time Team usually does not carry out excavations for these programmes, but may contribute a reconstruction.

Time Team History of Britain saw Robinson and the team document everything they have learned up to now and show a history of Britain. Behind the Scenes of Time Team showed meetings of the archaeologists, and material not transmitted during the episode of the dig. 10 Years of Time Team presented a round-up of what has happened in Time Team over the past 10 years and what they expect to happen in the future.

The Time Team website (editor Steve Platt) won a BAFTA for interactive entertainment (factual) in 2002. [41]


Time Team has been credited with promoting archaeology in the UK. In a 2008 report produced by English Heritage, a working group of Palaeolithic specialists recognised the importance of the show in "promoting public awareness" of Palaeolithic Britain, something which they argued was to be encouraged. [42]

DVD releases

Complete series have been released in Australia starting with Series 15 in 2010. [43] Since then, Series 12 (2014), [44] Series 14 (2012), [45] Series 16 (2010), [46] Series 17 (2011), [47] Series 18 (2012), [48] Series 19 (2012) [49] and Series 20 (2013) [50] have all been released in Australia. 'Best Of' DVDs were released in the UK over the years; however, a complete series had never been released until Series 18 was released by Acorn Media UK on 6 February 2012. On 15 May 2012, Acorn Media released a collection of Roman-themed episodes on Region One DVD.


  1. Including specials
  2. Excluding advertisements
  3. Time Team was made in partnership between VideoText Communications Ltd and Picturehouse Television Co. Ltd (based in London). Recently formed Wildfire Television was involved in the production of The Big Roman Dig (2005) and The Big Royal Dig (2006). It was produced by Taylor, the show's originator, with Robinson as associate producer.
  4. Time Team America was co-produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Videotext/C4i.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mick Aston</span> English archaeologist (1946–2013)

Michael Antony Aston was an English archaeologist who specialised in Early Medieval landscape archaeology. Over the course of his career, he lectured at both the University of Bristol and University of Oxford and published fifteen books on archaeological subjects. A keen populariser of the discipline, Aston was widely known for appearing as the resident academic on the Channel 4 television series Time Team from 1994 to 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phil Harding (archaeologist)</span> English archaeologist

Philip Harding DL FSA is a British field archaeologist. He became a familiar face on the Channel 4 television series Time Team.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carenza Lewis</span> British archaeologist

Carenza Rachel Lewis is a British academic archaeologist and television presenter.

Time Signs is a British television series that aired on Channel 4 in 1991. Presented by Mick Aston, the series tells the story of a Devon valley throughout history. Phil Harding does some reconstruction archaeology. The series was narrated by Ray Brooks.

Time Team Digs is a British television series that aired on Channel 4 in 2002. Presented by the actor Tony Robinson, the show is a spin-off of the archaeology series Time Team, that first aired on Channel 4 in 1994. It is also known as Time Team Digs: A History of Britain.

This is a list of Time Team special episodes that aired between 1997 and 2014. These special episodes often depart somewhat from the regular Time Team format, by revisiting previous sites to do a follow-up story; travelling outside the UK to excavate other sites of interest; chronicling digs overseen by other organisations; or using information gleaned from other Time Team episodes to draw a more complete picture of ordinary life during a particular historical era. Other specials may focus on a dig with a particular holiday theme; a more complex excavation over a longer period than the standard three days; or a visit to a particularly famous historical site.

Time Team Live was a British television series that aired on Channel 4. The first programme was shown in 1997 and the most recent was in 2006. Presented by the actor Tony Robinson and guest presenters, this is a live version of the archaeology series Time Team, showing more of what happens in real time, than when the cut-down episode airs on Channel 4.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 16. The series was released on DVD in 2013.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 17. The series was released on DVD in 2013.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 4.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 5. Each episode in this series is accompanied by an episode of Time Team Extra where the team's historian Robin Bush and a guest look back at the respective excavation.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 6.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 12.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 11.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 9.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 8.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tim Taylor (producer)</span> British TV producer

Professor Timothy Taylor is a British television producer best known for his work as the originator and producer of Channel 4's archaeology series Time Team. He is an executive producer for Time Team America.

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 18. The series was released on DVD in 2012 as "Tottiford and Other Digs".

This is a list of Time Team episodes from series 19. The series was released on DVD in 2014.

<i>The Great British Dig</i> Channel4 reality television series

The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden is a factual television programme about community archaeology, that airs on More 4 and Channel 4, produced by Strawberry Blond TV. Presented by comedian and actor Hugh Dennis along with three archaeological experts, each episode sees the team arrive in a local community somewhere in Britain, and knock on people's doors to ask if they can dig in their gardens and shared spaces.


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