Thursday, August 27, 2009

Encroaching Reality And A Television Test Card

We are approaching a Bank Holiday weekend here in Britain. We have guests coming for the weekend and a substantial family party planned for Sunday. I am being reminded of my duties : the house is to clean, the lawn is to cut, the bottle store is to be replenished. I fear that I will not have the opportunity to construct any decent posts until the tide of entertainment and jollity subsides. I have forgone the pleasure of participating in Theme Thursday this week and I will postpone the next installment of the "Family Six Pack" series until next week. I will concentrate my efforts on doing the rounds of my favourite blogs and seeing how the world beyond Fixby progresses.
Back in the early days of television, transmissions would be limited to just a few hours each day. In order that television installers could tune TV sets outside these limited hours of transmission, the television companies would broadcast static images known as Test Cards. These came in weird and wonderful forms but they acted as a reminder that although transmission were not currently taking place, the broadcaster lived on. The above example comes from the early British broadcasting experiments undertaken using the Baird system.
So over the next few days I will try and post my own Test Cards - just to let you know that the broadcaster lives on.


  1. There are times when I think that for all the extra hours of transmission, not much has improved on TV. Thank God Big Brother is to be 'deep sixed'.
    You'd better get on with your chore list or your Boss will be at you!

  2. I remember children's TV being very limited when I was small. I wonder how my mother coped with our boredom outside of these times. And I remember being freaked out by the test card girl, with all of those lines and colours and that horrid clown. The funny thing is that I never gave the test cards any thought before now - why they were there and why they are no longer used!
    You may not have time to blog for the next few days, but imagine all of the stories you will have to tell when you 'return' from the 'real world' !

  3. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Alan, off with you now! You've a party to make ready for!-LOL! Will be interesting to see some of the British versions of the test cards. I believe Silver Fox did something similar for the American ones, some time back...will be "watching" this space, wot?

  4. very cool. i remember these images...i miss them in the all day event that has become television...a forced break if you will...maybe thats what is wrong with our kids these days?

  5. Have a wonderful time on your holiday weekend--& great idea with the test cards.

  6. I can't believe it's bank holiday again. Can't wait to see the test cards.

  7. Aww, no TT? Never mind a weekend of jollity sounds wonderful. We don't even have test patterns on TV any more, now it's a 24 hour service full of infomertials. It's a plot to dupe us into not realising how late it was . .how will I know what time to go to bed without the appearance of the national anthem or a test card?

  8. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I really enjoyed this post. It brought back memories. I can also remember when we sat around on Sunday afternoon just to watch the Kraft Cheese commercials in color. Wow was that exciting.

    ANd father back in time we also had broadcasts in the morning for a couple of hours and then again in the afternoon. I remember when the stations were on all day but signed off with singing the Star Spangled Banner at midnight.

    Pick a Peck of Pixels

  9. This just in: "News from Nowhere" seems to be threatening us with hiatus!!!


Black Friar

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