Sunday, 25 October 2015

25th October 2015 - 24 hour TV, Test Cards, and Clocks

Thought for the day:"I am one step away from being rich - All I need now is some money"

As with many days, something on the net often catches my eye and then I wish to share it. I recall well the early days of television - prior to colour television being launched, when on the occasion that I might be young home and ill, the newly launched BBC2 channel in 1964 would put on a random program to test the abilities of the potential colour broadcasting.

One that I recall especially was the Monaco rally. It would come on unexpectedly, which begs the question of why the television was on. I do not remember properly if I was one of the earliest children raised by the television as a nanny - well in fact it would have been after July 1964 - so I would have been at least ten. Unless my memory is faulty. It is possible that it was on BBC 1 or similar and I was younger - after all, television was very sporadic in those days. After Watch with Mother there was very little to see.

But I remember the Monaco Rally. It was in Black and White of course, but the title was "Colour Tests" so I always tried to imagine it in colour. It was a bit later, after July 1967 that programmes like Bonanza and High Chaparral were repeated in the days of early colour vision and the titles were just fascinating. I cannot recall when we actually got our first colour television, but I have a feeling it was quite early.

I looked up the launch of  BBC2 and found that though the channel was scheduled to begin at 19:20 on 20 April 1964, at around 18:45 a huge power failure, originating from a fire at Battersea Power Station, caused Television Centre, and indeed much of west London, to lose all power.

BBC1 was able to continue broadcasting via its facilities at Alexandra Palace, but all attempts to show the scheduled programmes on the new channel failed. Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday ITV franchise-holder, offered to transmit on the BBC's behalf, but their gesture was rejected.

At 22:00 programming was officially postponed until the following morning.

As the BBC's news centre at Alexandra Palace was unaffected, they did in fact broadcast brief bulletins on BBC2 that evening, beginning with an announcement by the newsreader Gerald Priestland at around 19:25. There was believed to be no recording made of this bulletin, but a videotape was discovered in early 2003.

By 11:00 on 21 April, power had been restored to the studios and programming began, thus making Play School the first programme to be shown officially on the channel. The launch schedule, postponed from the night before, was then successfully shown that evening, albeit with minor changes. In reference to the power cut, the transmission opened with a shot of a lit candle which was then sarcastically blown out by presenter Denis Tuohy.

Why do I recall? Well today I found some nostalgic pictures - mainly of the test card..

In 2009 we find that the BBC test card, known as Test Card F, which shows Miss Carole Hersee wearing a red shirt and red hairband, and Bubbles, the clown, surrounded by colour scales and test graphics, was transmitted from 1967 to 1998. Designed by Miss Hersee's father, George Hersee, a BBC engineer, it is being broadcast again on the BBC's high definition (HD) channel to help viewers tune their HD sets, and is currently shown for 90 seconds every two hours when programmes are not on air. Technicians have rescanned the card in HD to allow viewers to set the colour, contrast and sharpness on modern televisions.

And the follow up is what the test card girl looks like today - or maybe a few years ago depending upon which article you see.

But that is enough for nostalgia..

Today the clocks went back. I normally do not have to do anythign. The computers change automatically as does the phone. I do nto wear a watch. And I have a wife who always puts the other clocks right except the kitchen clock which I can do later...  But, this morning it seemed too light for 8am. A nice bright day. The dog had not wakened but that is not uncommon these days. She has given up expecting everyone to get up at the crack of dawn to provide her breakfast.
So.. I decided that it must be nine o'clock and dutifully got up and let the chickens out.

And, unlike the 60's, the 24 hour television availability means that news 24 was switched on as the kettle boiled...  to find that it is Sunday morning, and I am up before 8am..

Best have a cup of tea ..


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