Open Eye: Speaking up for our nameless ancestors

"I didn't go to university because I couldn't go - I hated school work so much that I didn't do any. This is why the OU is so important - there must be so many children, who like me are smart but dumb, who have within them the latent ability to study but are prevented in some way.

"Both consciously and unconsciously I thought that there was an awful lot of life fenced off from me by a high-flown vocabulary and by an elite group of people who were much cleverer than I was. As I became older I became aware that it wasn't true. I am more radical now about education than I was as a young man. Like the Open University, I want to see improved access to education. I want doors kicked down and people called to account about what they are doing.

"If there is a common thread that has run through my work - and it has not been a conscious one - it is that itch I have always had to know more stuff. How do you know who you are unless you know where you have come from? How do you know who we are unless you know about the movement of peoples, geography, language?

"I love history and archaeology - I love the scraping and probing side of archaeology and I love the narrative side of history. I have always been a storyteller so Time Team was a dramatic way for me to bring two of my passions together.

"I am passionate about ordinary people because that is the stock I have come from. Most of history's great narratives are by people who think of themselves as the great movers and shakers. What I try and do is to tell that story, but to see it from the perspective of the people whose skills made those narratives happen, but whose names we don't necessarily know."

Tony Robinson is currently making a new series of The Worst Jobs in History, which features Italian immigrants who tarmacked Britain's streets in the 18th century and Roman slave boys who prepared food that made the Romans sick. He says that one day "when all this merry-go-round comes to a halt" he will sign up for an OU course.

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