Mick Aston talks to Radio Times

Mick Aston talks to Tim Taylor, series producer of Time TeamTime Team has taken over my life. I'm basically an academic - Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol - but these days my university work fits around the filming. Channel 4 has provided the money for a lecturer to do a lot of my administrative and teaching work so the programme now has first call on me. I work for them nine or ten months a year as a consultant and team leader and I'm also involved in spin-offs such as lectures and the rapidly expanding Time Team club.

I still see a number of students on various courses at the university - it would be cutting my umbilical cord if I didn't teach at all. I come from a working class background in Birmingham but I've been fascinated by archaeology since I was a boy. I've been a continuing education tutor for 21 years so I knew there was a tremendous public interest, too. The feeling was that on TV it would be really dull and boring, but I said, 'it's not, it's really exciting. You just have to do it the right way.' Now we're making our seventh series and I'm recognised all the time, which I don't find very easy.

But I still get a tremendous buzz out of it - I suffer from enthusiasm, I sometimes say. We're never sure what we're going to discover, if anything, on our digs. We're not in the Tutankhamen business, but we've uncovered everything from a Palaeolithic site from 200,000 BC to a Flying Fortress bomber from 1943. A lot of original research takes place and we're constantly discovering new bits of information which help make up the picture. It is an absolutely finite resource - once you've bulldozed a site, it's gone forever.

When we're not filming I work from home - a rather grotty sixties bungalow in a village between the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels. It's an interesting area archaeologically - I've found 12th-century pottery under the bungalow and a 16th-century fireplace on a building site down the road. There's a rumour that we even have a Roman villa here. The bungalow is quite big now - I've built a chunk on the front and a chunk on the back, digging the foundations and shifting all the spoil myself. I suffer from asthma and farmers lung - an allergic response to fungal spores in hay - so I do get a bit breathless. But the exercise is good for me, and in the summer, I usually work on the place naked - it's easier to shift stuff when you don't have a shirt and trousers flapping around. I've been a sort of naturist for 30 years and always try to find naturist beaches on my summer holidays.

VegetarianI have a wild garden with lots of different compartments - a pond, a pergola with roses, a Roman area with a circular patio, a herb garden and a bit with trees and hedges that you would have found here in 3000BC. The perfect way to unwind on a summer's evening is to have a glass of red wine in the garden, listening to music and eating lasagne. I'm a vegetarian and cook for myself and my son James, who is 14. My partner and I split up last summer.

Tony Robinson once said you could distinguish archaeologists by their poor dress and terrible haircuts. Well, we're complete scruffbags, but I don't care. I'm not remotely interested in appearances, life's too short for that. I've always worn bright jeans and socks, and now I'm famous for wearing rainbow pullovers on Time Team. I have one or two friends who knit them for me and life would be dull without them.

Professor Mick Aston talked to David Gillard for Radio Times Magazine 28th Aug - 3rd Sept 1999. Minor corrections by Jean Manco after conversation with Mick.