Goodbye, CEEFAX

Last night saw the final transmission of “pages from CEEFAX” on BBC 2. As the digital TV switchover completes in Belfast in the not too distant future, a stalwart of analogue television takes a final bow. CEEFAX – the BBC’s teletext service was included as part of the analogue signal, and before digital TV, a suitably equipped television could display these pages. During breaks in transmission – there was a time when television output paused for a few hours during the day – selected pages were regularly transmitted in place of the testcard, accompanied by what I can only remember as “cheesy” music.

This tradition was continued on the BBC’s digital services, late at night on weekends on BBC2.

CEEFAX carried news, sport, weather and many other features, all compressed into the very low resolution display. During the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project, they carried support information as well as programmes that could be downloaded onto the BBC Micro computers using a special Teletext adapter box. In the early 1980s, before the Internet, this seemed like some kind of witchcraft.

As a fitting tribute, Pages from CEEFAX was introduced using the old 1980s BBC2 ident, as well as a nice “goodbye” at the end of the transmission. The gallery above shows a selection of pages taken from a recording I made of the final hours of the service.