Filming in Dorset (& reprogramming the TV)

I’m giving you my essential guide to retuning your TV soon, but first a bit of archaeology. This is Maumbury rings, a nice earthworky sort of earthwork near the centre of Dorchester. It looks how it does now because of corporate curation, remodelling during the Civil War and before that as a Roman amphitheatre, but it began as a neolithic henge around 2000BC. The now invisible ditch just inside the bank consisted of a ring of around 50 or so interlocking pits that went down 10m into the chalk. It was partly excavated shortly before the first world war, so really we need to go back and dig some more. Were those pits great empty shafts, as most believe, or could they have held large posts?

I was there yesterday filming for a TV programme, and I was reminded that I should update the Time Team/Mick Aston saga. The public support for both Mick and the TV series (and all the crew, including Mary-Ann Ochota) has been striking. I will be publishing a selection of the many, sometimes quite moving letters I have received in the next British Archaeology. Among the online pieces worth seeing I’ve not noted before are these:

A piece from Mick in the Western Daily Press, that tells about the member of the public stepping in to identify a find (worth reading the whole story):

A brief statement from Mary-Ann, that puts her own spin on the affair:

And this from Mick, defending (quite rightly) the quality of the fieldwork on Time Team:

So I get home from Dorset, and later switch on the TV. No signals. We’ve just had the second round of analogue switch-off. I spent much effort trying to figure it out the first time, and only last night did I get there. Looking for online help, I saw I’m far from the only one who had trouble with this, and curiously many of those struggling with it seem to be people who really know their way around gadgets. If you Google phrases like

i cant find any of my TV channels (25,700,000 results)

how do i find digital channels on my tv? (71,700,000 results)

how do i program my tv for digital? (599,000,000 results)

you get masses of debate, information, gossip and whines, and strikingly most of it seems to lead nowhere useful. It’s not that we weren’t told about the digital switch-over: it’s that we were told too much. Expensive TV adverts, leaflets, press notices, a big website, everywhere for many months, spilling out all sorts of stuff. It certainly got me worried. But I never learned, plain and clear, the simple thing I really needed to know: what to do.

For most of us the TV set is not a piece of technology, but a thing we look at for what it shows us. Many TVs must have been set up by nice delivery men, and the instruction manual (if it’s still around) is long, complex and intimidating. We just watch the thing, we don’t wire it up and re-invent the silicon chip every time we switch on. We want to know how to get BBC1, not what a relay transmitter is or how many sugars the operator needs in his tea.

So if anyone falls on this who hasn’t yet got it sorted, this is what you need to know.

1. The old type of TV signal (analogue) is being switched off so we can move to a new and better one (digital)

2. When that happens, you have to re-program your TV set. That means going back to the beginning, as if you’d just bought it, and telling it to find all the channels. Every set has its own way of doing this, but it’s quite simple. You press “menu”, and select something like “set up” or “installation”, and look for channel selection, retuning or something like that (one of the sets I did actually had a button that said “digital retune”). The key point here is that you want to completely wipe out the old stuff and start again. So you don’t want to find more channels, or update your list: you want to delete all the old channels, and go for factory reset, first installation etc.

3. If none of this seems to work at all, you probably need to buy a new TV.

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