After 18 years, 20 series and more than 40 specials, Time Team will air its final series on Channel 4 in 2013. Further one-off specials are planned for at least into 2014 and the series will continue to be repeated across both More4 and Channel 4.
Channel 4 will increase its focus on new and innovative history programming; with new commissions with exclusive access to archaeological discoveries including the recently announced The King in the Carpark: Richard III and the brand new The People of Stonehenge (w/t), The Hood (w/t) - as well Attack of the Zeppelins (w/t) with Hugh Hunt.
Head of Factual Ralph Lee says: "I am incredibly proud that, as well as providing hundreds of hours of education and entertainment on Channel 4, Time Team has invested, over and above production costs, more than £4m in archaeology in Britain over the past 18 years. Time Team will continue to be on our screens for at least a further two years and we are discussing other ideas around archaeology with Tim Taylor, Time Team's creator and the production team behind it.
"Time Team was one of our first returning Factual formats and entirely original when it first aired - but with innovation vital to Channel 4's DNA, 2013 will see a renewed commitment to history programming with bold new approaches and formats as well as a range of one-off programmes."
Commissioning Editor for History Julia Harrington says: "Channel 4 history is all about bringing the past to life in eye-opening, entertaining and innovative ways, from the best archaeological scoops, to big factual dramas such as The Mill, to experiential formats such as Hilary Devey's Dole Office, and Guy Martin on our industrial past in the current series How Britain Worked."
Channel 4 is working with broadcaster Tony Robinson on a brand new history series Walking through History (w/t) for which he has devised four walks through major stories in British history: from charting the Second World War along the Dorset coast to the progress of industrial revolution in the Derbyshire Peak district, the Jacobin rebellions in the Scottish Highlands and the source of Tudor noblemen's' power in the Kent Weald.
Tony said: "Not many performers are given the privilege of featuring in two iconic TV series - but I've been lucky! Time Team was not only high-quality public service television; it also attracted a large and passionate audience both in the UK and overseas. I'm proud to have been associated with it."
Twenty years of Time Team will be celebrated in the last programme of the final series in 2013 - looking back over the highs and the lows, the people and the places and the achievements of a series which ran for over 250 episodes.
The digs have provided a wealth of information and research material currently stored by Wessex Archaeology. Channel 4, along with the programme makers Videotext and Picture house TV will work to maintain this archive as part of Time Team's academic legacy.
New History on Channel 4
The People of Stonehenge (w/t) tx early 2013
For centuries, historians and archaeologists have tried to unlock the mysteries of Stonehenge. Until now, most of them have concentrated on awe-inspiring structure itself. But Stonehenge isn't just a monument, it's a vast burial ground. And in this 90-minute special, those who were buried - the most important collection of human remains ever found in the British Isles - will give up their secrets for the first time. This is the story of the people of Stonehenge - a story that radically changes our understanding of Stonehenge's origins and purpose and that offers a revelatory new perspective on the pre-history of the British Isles.
Oxford Scientific Films has followed the world's leading Stonehenge expert, Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues as they complete a decade-long study, analysing over 400 human remains including the ‘Stonehenge 63' - the cremated remains of 63 individuals discovered within the monument itseld, some of which are believed to have been buried when the first stones were laid.
The film will exclusively reveal the results of Parker Pearson's team's latest tests. Using cutting edge scientific analysis of the bones, animal remains and artefacts, Parker Pearson will be able to unpick the story of the people of Stonehenge for the very first time. Pioneering isotopic analysis of their teeth will reveal where they came from and lipid analysis will be used to deconstruct their diet. This is combined with the analysis of 80,000 animal bones providing evidence of feasting on a massive scale - and crucially help locate where the people originally came from. Radio-carbon dating and CT scanning will determine what sex they were where and when they died and laser scanning of a single skull will reconstruct the face of one of the people.
Parker Pearson's study, unravelling both who the people were and where they came from, has provided the most definitive account to date of the history of this Neolithic structure - exploding the many myths and theories surrounding the site including the idea it was a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple or sacrificial site. In their place, he finds startling evidence of a well-travelled and surprisingly unified society - the first pan-British culture.
The production company is Oxford Scientific, the producer/director is Nick Gilliam-Smith. Executive Producer Alice Keens-Soper says: "For the first time science is revealing key details about the people who were buried at Stonehenge during its heyday - it's incredibly exciting to be working on a film about the people of Stonehenge, whose lives are slowly starting to come into focus as never before."
The King in a Carpark: Richard III (w/t) tx early 2012
Channel 4 has commissioned independent production company Darlow Smithson to make a history programme about the extraordinary hunt for the remains of Richard III - beneath a council car park in Leicester.
Having followed the project for the last two years, the Darlow Smithson team have been filming the archaeologists from University of Leicester leading the search for the burial place of King Richard III - capturing every incredible unearthing. The dig, also involving Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society, has made remarkable breakthroughs including the ruins of a medieval friary - and human remains.
The human remains, which show evidence of near-death trauma and curvature of the spine, will now be sent for forensic tests to establish whether they have indeed discovered the last English King to have been killed in battle. The DNA material will be tested to see if it matches that of a 17th-generation descendent of the monarch's sister. The results will be revealed in the documentary to be aired later this year.
Richard III is one of the most notorious Kings of England - his death at the Battle of Bosworth effectively ended the Wars of the Roses. The disappearance of his young nephews - known as the Princes in the Tower - and William Shakespeare's play 'Richard III' have also contributed to his infamy.
Darlow Smithson Executive Producer Simon Young says: "This documentary will reveal every step of this incredible search as it unfolds. Richard III has been immortalised in history by Shakespeare, but this account was based on Tudor spin and propaganda, these archaeological discoveries present a unique opportunity to find out who he really was."
The Hood (w/t) tx early 2013
Darlow Smithson is making a 1 x 60min programme following an expedition to solve the last mysteries of HMS Hood: the greatest British warship of WWII.
The "Mighty" Hood was the pride of the British Navy for more than 20 years - revered around world as the largest and most powerful warship afloat. But when it met the German battleship Bismarck off the coast of Greenland on 24th May 1941, its end was shockingly swift. Although Hood opened fire first with her massive 15-inch guns it was Bismarck who struck the telling blows - hitting Hood at least twice and causing an enormous explosion and fire. Hood shattered hull sank in minutes and only three of its crew survived. 1415 were killed - the largest loss of life ever suffered in a British warship.
For decades, no-one was able to discover why the Hood sank so quickly. Two official Boards of Inquiry investigated but failed to explain the tragedy, and a 2001 expedition that discovered the wreck was largely inconclusive. This time, though, two of the world's leading shipwreck detectives have returned to crack the puzzle of the Hood's end.
The programme follows Deep Water Search and Recovery Expert David Mearns and Marine Archaeologist Innes McCartney through three dives in perilous conditions as they piece together evidence hidden nearly 3km beneath the ocean's surface. It also highlights a recent effort sponsored by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who volunteered the use of his expedition yacht, M/Y OCTOPUS, in an attempt to recover the Hood's bell as a memorial to the ship and her crew. Along the way it tells the story of this epic battle, and pays tribute to the men who lost their lives on board.
Attack of the Zeppelins (w/t) tx 2013
London's burning. German bombs decimate British homes. The dead lie in heaps. But this Blitz has nothing to do with World War Two. This is the story of a terror bombing campaign on the capital that took place during the First World War. Zeppelins, the biggest flying machines that have ever existed, delivered their deadly payload straight to the heart of a nation and, for a time, there was nothing the British could do to stop them.
This largely unknown story of the first Blitz, the first aerial bombing campaign in history, will be told through the engineering arms race that unfolded between Germany and Britain.
Engineer Dr Hugh Hunt (Dambusters: Building the Bouncing Bomb & Escape from Colditz) will investigate the technical challenges that each side had to overcome in their war in the air. Much of the detail about what happened a century ago has been lost to history, so there are plenty of outstanding engineering mysteries about the Zeppelin story for Hugh to get his teeth into - mysteries that can only be solved by doing practical experiments.
He will attempt to find out why it was so difficult for British guns to bring down Zeppelins - a surprising problem given that the airships were filled with flammable hydrogen gas. He will test genuine WWI Zepp-busting munitions and reverse engineer WWI bombs to find out exactly how these technologies worked. And he will investigate the magical properties of oxen intestine - the wonder material that the Germans used to hold the hydrogen gas. Hugh will fire up the engine of the actual 1914 German Grand Prix winning car, whose secrets eventually won the war in the air - for Britain.
Ian Duncan is executive producer for Windfall Films.
Time Team - 2013
Tony Robinson leads the team of enthusiastic experts as they tackle the mysteries posed by sites right across the country. On Salisbury Plain the team join the Ministry of Defence on a special dig with wounded and traumatised soldiers as part of their process of rehabilitation. They set to work on Bronze Age burial barrows excavating 12 Saxon burials, the seventh century bodies accompanied by spear heads, shields and jewellery.
During the 12 x 60 min series Time Team also explores: the famous Roman fort at Brancaster in North Norfolk, a grand Tudor mansion which once stood at the heart of Henham Park in Suffolk and the remains of the once grand home of Cardinal Wolsey.
In other episodes, the team investigates three very different castles - one in West Wales, one in Northern Ireland and one in Rutland. They examine the remains of a huge unexplored Iron Age hillfort on the edge of Cardiff and a Roman Villa on the banks of the Thames and they climb high above Coniston Water in the Lake District to investigate the copper mines that date back to the Elizabethan age.
Time Team Specials 2013
There will be four Time Team Specials in 2013 - the sites include: the sunken wrecks of two of the earliest prototype submarines dating back to before the First World War; Lincoln Castle, one of Britain's finest medieval castles, housing one of the four copies of the Magna Carta, an attempt to reconstruct a bronze age Dover Boat using just materials and tools from the time and an investigation into the evidence for a devastating tsunami that flooded huge areas of land at a time when the first permanent inhabitants of Britain were just beginning to settle as farmers.
Notes to Editors
Time Team Highlights
Some of the most notable digs have taken place at the Royal palaces, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle where the home of the original Knights of the Garter, the Circular Chamber was uncovered.
Other iconic digs have included Salisbury Cathedral (2009) and Hadrian's Wall (2003) as well as Alfred's Abbey in Somerset (1994). Time Team has secured official government permission to dig at over 60 scheduled ancient monuments including world heritage sites Blaenavon and Westminster Abbey (2010) where the skeletons of Anglo Saxon monks who settled the site were unearthed.
Thousands of viewers reported on small trenches dug in their gardens during the Live Big Dig and in the Big Roman Dig, eight days of live programming uncovered major Roman sites all over the country, with a huge previously undiscovered villa at the heart of the broadcast.
Time Team has unearthed a staggering array of historical objects, treasure, shipwrecks - not to mention human and even prehistoric remains in its 20 years:
Time Team discovered the remains of the first Spitfire to be shot down during the Battle of Britain (2000) and found a Chieftain's brooch in the centre of a Viking Boat Burial in Scotland (2003). In a ditch of a medieval castle in the Midlands a gold coin featuring Henry V was uncovered (2008) and in Durham the Mausoleum of a Roman soldier (2008).
Time Team dived down to the Spanish Armada wrecks and found chests of richly decorated Spanish pottery (2002) and disappeared into swamps uncovering the machine gun from an American B17 bomber (1999).
In 2007 on a golf course in the Isle of Man the graves of a Viking war party, including a woman with a completely preserved length of hair was unearthed and in a nearby burial a stone covered with Runes that told the story of their arrival.
The remains of mammoths in Oxfordshire were discovered in 1996 and burials of English settlers in Maryland in 1997. In Richmond, London, (1998) we uncovered the Palace of Queen Elizabeth I and on the Caribbean Island of Nevis, deep in the jungle (1999) the remains of an English stately home and a slave village.
A set of Byzantine vessels were found in an Anglo Saxon burial site near Southampton (2002) as well as the remains of Henry Vs flagship the Grace Dieu (2005) in Hampshire.