It was a peculiar idea - a series of short archeological digs, each just three days long, with just one person among the team with television experience, playing the fool in the comedy series, Black Adder. The rest, genuine archeologists. Not a one telegenic in the least. And it was a huge hit in the UK while also finding an audience here in the U.S. What's there to dig up on that island, you might wonder. The answer, not much compared to major sites from the Roman Empire, Greece, Egypt, the Middle East. Oh, there was Roman settlement for centuries in England, but it was modest. But, as with the people you see in the show, the point is not elite, world-shaping history. England has been continuously settled and occupied since the stone age. Thus it's of keen interest to English people because they live there. And it's interesting to other people because it mirrors the distant past of many, many people too.
Yes, many well-known archeologists scoffed at this show. At first. Yet it built broad interest in the subject of archeology, not just with this videotaped version of the show but subsequent Time Team programs broadcast in real-time over live television.
And, yes, as with many popular British series there was an attempt to create a U.S. version but, like anything U.S., all the participants were young, fantastic looking on camera and the series was pretty much a dud. Not at all the success here that British shows like House of Cards and The Office were in their American incarnations.
Sadly, after a decade or so, this version Time Team too tried to sex it up with people chosen for their looks and a co-host that was a former fashion model. Time Team's time had passed. But there were so many marvelous shows over many years before that happened.