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the BBC test card

932 of 1160 nominations


the BBC test card

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the BBC test card

With the advent of 24-hour television, the famous BBC test card is gradually disappearing from our screens. The first version – A – was introduced in the late 1940s, becoming the world's first transmitted television test facility. Its purpose was to check for picture and sound tuning.

Later versions included Test Card E, used specifically on BBC2 from 1964 until colour was introduced in 1967. Test Card F, the most famous of them all, replaced it on both BBC channels.

The celebrated image of the girl in the Alice band, playing noughts and crosses with a scary looking toy clown, was the creation of BBC engineer George Hersee. The uncertain-looking girl was his daughter Carole (who got the gig over her sister Gillian). Hersee only intended to use Carole for a test card mock-up, but it was decided that, since adult fashions changed so quickly, a child's image would be longer-lasting. Young Carole was paid £100 – the only fee she ever received.

Test Card F has, to date, been screened for around 70,000 hours – more airtime than the longest-running soap – and been used in 30 countries.


Your comments

Because it was so much more fun than the shopping channel

Stuart Walton

It's exported to 30 different countries. It may well be the single most viewed image on television worldwide. It is a piece of English cultural heritage.
Mark Childs

Symbolic of the technology of its time it came to mark the change to colour television and was seen by millions not only at home but in every television rental shop in the country
Colin Keane

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My nomination is the garden shed.