12 thoughts on “Please Do Not adjust Your Set”

    1. Yup – it always was. For years as a child one would turn on the tele and see this test card for big chunks of the day. Proof that the ‘old days’ were not always better.

    2. I spent a lot of time in my early years staring at test cards, and into the back of televisions. My father was an electrical engineer, and the “go-to guy” for family friends and neighbours when their TVs broke down, which they did a lot in the era of valves (the semiconductor devices that predated transistors and integrated circuits) and cathode ray tubes. For the youngsters out there, this is what the innards of a typical valve TV looked like:

      The test card above was specific to the BBC. There were widely used generic versions, such as this from the black-and-white era:

      If the TV was beyond repair, the best way to dispose of the cathode ray tube was to take it to the end of the garden, move back ten paces and lob a lump hammer at it. The resulting implosion was impressive…

  1. Daniel, that brings back memories! The TV repairman would often be round our house near Christmas time with the back of the (Rumbelows rented) TV off. I’m surprised we didn’t invite him to stay for Christmas lunch.

    Remember when you (gasp) had to stand up to change the channel? Remember when TV remotes had a single rocker switch on them that cycled through the channels? I feel 500 years old. Bloody kids today don’t know they’re born!

    1. Hi John. I well remember the pre-remote control era. One of the benefits of that era for broadcasters, particularly the commercial channels, was that, unlike today, viewers would stick with one channel and sit through the ad breaks. More choice and remote controls has made viewers very promiscuous, even if still “there’s nothing on the telly!”

      As to the visits from the TV repairman, my dad was that guy in our neighbourhood (where TVs seemed to have been owned rather than rented). Accompanying him on visits to neighbours’ houses, the routine was always the same: rotate the big, heavy TV through 180° then remove the pressed cardboard back, and commence investigations. On many occasions, the family would be sitting in their usual TV viewing places, observing my dad doing his magic, which was probably more interesting than what was on RTÉ, the single Irish channel when I was a child.

    2. I’m old as well… I remember our first TV set when I was about 4 or 5 years old. It had 8 buttons to choose a channel, no remote of course. I don’t even think our antenna caught enough channels to fill all the buttons.

  2. The test card often had an annoying and deeply disturbing whine but I also remember some musical pieces were played in later years. I also remembered the slot above the picture resembling a letter box, the corner strakes being drain/ gulley covers and the girl appeared on something like Blue Peter, about 35 years later. Mind you, it could’ve been the news, definitely before the internet took over the world.

    1. BBC 2 was the pioneer channel for colour TV in the UK and used to show short colour films called Trade Test Transmissions during the day, long before the advent of daytime TV. I recall a rather charming one about a guy restoring a classic car and, would you believe it, I found it on YouTube:

  3. I recall that we had the first colour TV in our street. The neighbours were openly quite dismissive, but when FA cup final came round, we seemed to have quite a few visitors…

    Remember when there was one channel, then two, and they actually stopped broadcasting after about 11.00pm? Here’s the final transmission of the “goodnight” filmlette we used to enjoy: https://youtu.be/7jCuSt9MjSY

    1. Hmm, forgot how to embed. Is there a handy guide to embedding content in these here comments?

  4. Hi Paul. Embedding YouTube videos is really easy: simply click on the “share” icon below the video and then click on “copy link”. Finally, just paste the link into your post, and job done. Here’s your video:

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