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Archaeology and Television

  • Glyn E. Daniel

Serious and sustained archaeological broadcasting began only after the end of the 1939-45 War. It was the result of the general purpose of the S Third Programme and the particular endeavour of the West Region in the persons of Frank Gillard, Head of Programmes at Bristol, and Gilbert Phelps, one of the talks producers there. There had of course been archaeological broadcasts in the pre-war years, and Sir Leonard Woolley’s best-selling Digging up the Past began as a series of talks ; but it was not until The Archaeologist was created by the West Region, and taken over, first by the Third Programme—it was actually the first series of talks to appear on that programme—and then by the Home Service, that archaeology began to have a recognised and acceptable place in sound broadcasting. There have been plenty of archaeological broadcasts outside this series, and so there should be ; but it was the existence of a regular series providing for the discussion of current discoveries, new techniques and new ideas and demanding thought on the part of producers and editors that, to my mind, really put archaeological broadcasting on the B.B.C. map.

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1 As a matter of private interest my own first archaeological broadcast was as a substitute for the editor of ANTIQUITY, who was unable to accept Mr Phelps’s invitation at the time.

2 And those with ideas or suggestions should write to The Producer, The Archaeologist, B.B.C. Bristol.

3 We are still being told this by TV critics in the Press. Do they, and the B.B.C., consistently underestimate the public?

4 Dr Kathleen Kenyon tells me that Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s autograph now ranks in value as a swap with Dennis Compton’s but below Len Hutton’s.

5 The value of reconstructions was splendidly demonstrated in the Crown Film Unit film The Beginning of History, on which see Jacquetta Hawkes, ANTIQUITY, 1946, 78 ff.

6 On the relative merits of sound and visual broadcasting for archaeology see articles and correspondence in The New Statesman and Nation during September, 1954.

7 I have discussed some other aspects of archaeology and broadcasting in The Archaeological News Letter, for May, 1948, and The B.B.C. Quarterly, VIII, no. 2 (1953).

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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