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Professor Mick Aston quits Time Team, and now Mary-Ann Ochota is leaving too

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 10, 2012

  • Professor Mick Aston quit Time Team amid fears it was 'dumbing down'

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Just days after Time Team’s experienced presenter Professor Mick Aston walked out on the show, it’s newest arrival has also left.

The controversy surrounding Prof Aston’s departure appears to have proven too much for his more ‘glamorous’ replacement Mary-Ann Ochota, who has announced she is leaving after its experimental 19th series.

The show’s new format, which included the introduction of Cambridge graduate Ms Ochota as co-presenter, triggered Prof Aston’s departure. He argued that there had been a “dumbing down” of the programme, as reported in the Western Daily Press yesterday.

The archaeology expert, who lives near Cheddar, in Somerset, has been with the show for nearly two decades.

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Hinting at their working relationship on Time Team’s Facebook page yesterday, Ms Ochota said: “I always loved Time Team, and was very excited to be working with Mick – he wasn’t so keen!”

She added that the series hadn’t worked out quite as she had wanted it to. Now neither presenter will return for the 20th anniversary series, which begins filming in April for broadcast next year.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 who said it originally introduced Mary to ‘complement the pre-existing line-up,’ denied suggestions that she had quit, saying a decision not to renew her contract was made in December.

She added: “Mary-Ann will not be returning for the next series of Time Team, which will be aired in 2013.” She did not comment further.

Ms Otocha, 30, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University defended her role on the show after her former career as a model had been mentioned in news reports about her departure.

She said: “I’m sad about how this story has been told in the press...I was brought in to be a co-presenter, not an archaeologist, so that I could ask the questions that viewers might be asking.”

Yesterday comments on the programme’s official Facebook page moved from outrage at the overall changes to the show and Mick Aston’s resignation, to support for Ms Ochota.

One of Ms Ochota’s friends on Facebook, Robin Sayer, commented: “There are problems with series 19 but none of them have anything to do with Mary-Ann. With more face-time the public could have gotten to know a passionate, hard-working, funny lady.

“It is a shame that Time Team will not be able to profit from her enthusiasm and I feel that the show has lost an asset.”

Carl Marland, added: “I think Mary-Ann has done a great job. It can’t be easy walking in to a new position with such an established team.”

Sharon Allbright said: “I think Mary-Ann has many more supporters than she does detractors here and everywhere, and please do let her know that. If people don’t like the new format: don’t watch it.”

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Professor Mick Aston quits Time Team over 'dumbing down' row
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  • marysussex  |  June 25 2013, 11:47AM

    marysussex - never liked the man and even less robinson himself. the true experts were phil harding and john gater geophys. tony was always so unpleasant to him it was a wonder he stayed. archaeology is not supposed to be fun as it is a serious subject. as for mick responsible for losing a writing board from a somerset well which after translating may well have referred back to the time of Christ and Glastonbury. ref somerset archaeology. nevertheless rest in peace mick.

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  • 26it073  |  April 20 2013, 12:28PM

    No comments after more than a year?

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  • Terencezl  |  October 21 2012, 10:09AM

    Professor Astons concernes of bumbing down the program are well founded, unfortunatly this is in responce to the bumbing down of society in general over the last few decades, which has resulted in a drop in ratings. I suspect the thinking was that a bit of glamour up front combined with a bit of "pratting about" might boost the numbers. It is a pity to see such a brilliant and educational program such as Time Team falling apart like this. However you do still have educational programing on the public broadcasting netwok in the UK, unlike here in New zealand where we have vitualy none. We have plenty of reality Tv, every country on earth has talent and endless cooking programs, but brain food, no.

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  • NickWestley  |  April 06 2012, 12:30AM

    "If something isn't broken do not attempt to fix it is the adage that comes to mind. The loss of Professor Aston is far more of a blow than the loss of Ms. Ochota. Series 19 is in my opinion by far the worst series of Time Team to date and yes I think the content is decidedly less academicaly based than the previous series. Apart from Tony the co-presenters of Time Team have seemed to come from an almost organic growth as the show aged. Grafting two individuals into such an established group was a very tall order indeed. The beginning of what may prove to be the end of one of the most remarkable and instructive programs ever screened by any channel would seem to be on the way. I think that the show will survive the loss of Ms. Ochota, but will it survive the loss of Professor Aston? Of that I am not so sure."

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  • DrJohnWells  |  March 30 2012, 4:16PM

    It is all very sad. What I find disappointing is that Time Team does not encourage community archaeology groups to use powerful, cost effective techniques like kite aerial photography (KAP). Our group, West Lothian Archaeology (WestLothianArchaeology.org.uk) uses KAP as one of its primary techniques. The use of non-invasive techniques should always be considered before digging into the ground. We image sites in the visible, near and thermal infra-red parts of the spectrum.

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  • cardinal_sin  |  February 10 2012, 11:53AM

    One of Ms Ochota's friends on Facebook, Robin Sayer, commented: . "It is a shame that Time Team will not be able to profit from her enthusiasm and I feel that the show has lost an asset." Hmm, in my opinion from her photo Time Team has lost a couple of assets!

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  • johnskipper  |  February 10 2012, 10:38AM

    Well said. I feel very sorry for Mary-Ann Ochota. It's not her fault, any of this. She's a tv presenter, I'm sure a very good one, who has just been offered the chance of a great job on a well-respected tv programme. It's sad that she has had to leave over all of this, it's the programme's bosses who should be made to answer.

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  • adrianbastin  |  February 10 2012, 10:26AM

    The issue is not with MS Ochota's appointment or 'resignation' but the dismantling of one of the best archaeological units in the country. Each member of the team was a specialist in their particular field, which allowed the programme to move so fast over the 3 day digs. It's now ruined by meddling from from the 'top'; the top was actually Mick and his ability to put such a fine team together in the first place.

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