More Time Team Drama?

The Daily Mail said good morning with a rather harsh article about yet another Time Team shake-up:

While not quite as exciting as excavating buried treasure, the boffins of Channel 4’s archaeological show Time Team have managed to dig themselves into an extraordinary hole.

For just a day after it emerged that Bristol’s emeritus professor of archaeology Michael Aston had quit the programme, I learn that his much younger, attractive co-host has also walked out.

Cambridge beauty Mary-Ann Ochota, 30, a former model, has told Time Team fans she is leaving her post and will not be in the next series.

‘I always loved Time Team, and was very excited to be working with Mick — he wasn’t so keen!’ she revealed yesterday.

‘The series didn’t work out quite how I wanted it to either — needless to say I’m not coming back for the next series either!’

Mary-Ann, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge, also mounts a robust defence of her position on the show amid continuing speculation that she and Prof Aston did not get on.

‘I was brought in to be a co-presenter, not an archaeologist, so I could ask the questions viewers might be asking,’ she writes on Time Team’s Facebook page.

But within minutes, the site was abuzz with comments from viewers. One said: ‘You really have to establish your archaeological credentials first on the show [or] it looks like the programme producers have employed you purely for the “totty factor” despite having the appropriate academic qualifications.’

The walkouts were apparently triggered after producers decided to reformat the show, which is hosted by Blackadder star Tony Robinson, after 19 series.

Part of the reshuffle included recruiting Miss Ochota — married to children’s author Joe Craig — and archaeologist Alex Langlands this year.

According to programme  sources, Miss Ochota appeared to have a happy working relationship with most of the Time Team crew on set.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman says: ‘Mary-Ann will not be returning for the next series of Time Team, which will be aired in 2013.’

The Daily Mail article sort of glazes over two important points, which I’d like to briefly address.  The first being the Miss Ochota does tout the necessary credentials (a Master’s Degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University) to be involved with the series.  Everyone is hot to mention she modeled for Special K cereal or something, but glazes over the fact that she is an academic.  The second, and more severe tidbit that the media should be highlighting is that the network wants to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology.”  Therein lies the true crime.  “Informative stuff?”  I thought pissing on science education was limited to the US Department of Education.

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