Saturday 27 August 2022

Take Some Metal Detectors, Put a Tent in a Field and Film. Instant TV.

I could not watch "Digging for Treasure Tonight" and was unable to get it recorded, so I am grateful to British colleague Andy Brockman for his comments and permission to quote it here. Since I see one of the presenters has switched her shirt to a Zelenski-green one with "Learn by Trowel and Error", perhasps his comments might be of interest in developing the further direction of the show:
Hi Paul,

Digging for Treasure is truly bad.

The format is all over the place and the finds were the usual crud, worn hammered, a broken trumpet brooch, and 20th century military badges with no story or context.

Landscape dismissed in a few shots and one liners.

No sense that people live in places.

No attempt to plot the finds across the site. Not enough time in one day?

Take away the inserts about the Lancaster/shipwreck/looking for lost rings etc and there was probably half an hour of nothing.

There was no sense anyone on the production team had any knowledge or insight into the subject, so we got a professionally shot production, with tick box PAS and being told constantly about responsible metal detecting is actually boring.

The whooping and clapping comes across as an effort by a professional presenter to drum up excitement where there is none.

In the end TV is best when it tells stories and there was no story here because apparently they couldn't be bothered to research and frame one.
The Sun review (you know it's bad when you get a bad review from the Sun for being lowbrow) has a video that is a fragment of the programme. It is odd to hear about the lack of finds plotting, given that the extract begins with "our field survey(sic) has been carefully-planned, it's all about the special permission (sic) we got before we actually turned up here". That in the circumstances is a pretty ignorant thing to say, and who got the permission, the detecting company they filmed, or the TV company? 

From the archaeological point of view, from what is said, this was a wasted opportunity, the next wasted opportunity. And I would say the real tragedy is that the CBA and PAS agreed to lend their authority to such ersatz crap. Once again. What actually would be wrong with saying "no, this is not what archaeology looks like, this is not the way we want to be encouraging the archaeological resources of our country to be exploited, we do not support this"? Once again, we have the prevalence in archaeology of the view "any old crap is better than nothing". That should not be what teh Codes of Conduct and Codes of Practice of our major archaeological bodies should be allowing. But then, actually, if you look at them, they have nothing at all about this issue.

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