Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter

Mick Aston, the archaeologist, has quit Time Team after producers hired a former model as the programme’s co-presenter.

The 65-year-old, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter Mary-Ann Ochota and some archaeologists being axed.

In an interview with the magazine British Archaeology, Prof Aston, the show’s former site director, said: “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 was responding to changes first proposed by producers at Channel 4 in late 2010, which included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology”.

An email to archaeologists last year from Wildfire Television, which makes the programme, said it 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”.

Though Professor Aston appears with the new recruits in the current series, he will not join the 20th series, which starts filming in April.

“Whatever happened, we’d all thought, we’ll complete the 20th series. It feels very sad that I shan’t do that. I’m not proud of Time Team, it hasn’t worked,” Prof Aston added.

He compared the reshuffle at Time Team to the changes at the BBC’s Countryfile in 2008, which introduced younger presenters and, he said, reduced it to “cliché-ridden pap”.

Miss Ochota, 30, holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University and has previously done modelling work, including shoots for Special K.

You can find Tim Taylor’s response to the announcement here: http://www.scribd.com/tim_darch/d/80914164-Tim-Taylor-Statement-regarding-Mick-Aston

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