Thursday 12 July 2012

Michael Buerk Interview: Imagining Blood and Gore in the Arena and a bit of Nationalism.

Presenter of "Britain's Secret Treasures", Michael Buerk is interviewed on a brightly-coloured page with flashing icons belonging to low-brow magazine "TV Choice".The programme is billed as one in which "celebrities also help to reveal the stories behind some of the country’s most important historical finds". Celebrities? The interview gives a taste of what we can expect:
For example, one of the things found was a slave’s shackle, dating back to Roman times. It’s rather topical at this time of year with the Last Night Of The Proms approaching, and the lyrics to Rule Britannia, ‘Britain never ever ever shall be slaves’. Well some clearly were. The speculation about this is that it might have been a shackle on one of the slaves being driven up the road from Winchester to Silchester for the games. And what happens to them in the games? The slaves get killed and eaten by wild animals. Also, there are stories about the people who found them. I think people like these little leaps of imagination. 
 This apparently will be presented by former Lebanon hostage John McCarthy to give it added realism. So jingoistic patriotism meets 'Spartacus', an archaeological "little leap of the imagination" to British 'slaves' being gored by wild animals as a public spectacle in the amphitheatre at Calleva Atrebatum.  Let us hope in the broadcast, the presenter actually gets the wording of "Rule, Britannia!" right. People who prefer "little leaps of the imagination" are probably not so concerned about the actual facts.

Asked by the interviewer is "he thinks" Britain's Secret Treasures "will encourage people to go out with their metal detectors?" he fluffs it, not really understanding what the issue is. He merely mumbles something about "context" and "a big issue about whether the use of metal detectors should be encouraged" on archaeological sites. He concludes "the more we encourage people to look for, appreciate and value these found objects from the past, the better". Hmmm.

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